As someone committed to my work from a creative stand point, as well as a compassionate one, I understand my responsibility as a user engaging with online communities. What I say in the digital sphere leaves a mark and will remain searchable for the rest of eternity.
The power of the internet has set us into unprecedented territory. If you want to share something, say anything, you have a platform to do so. This empowers the individual to create, collaborate and connect with others all around the world. Wonderful, but with this ability, the potential of online shaming has become amplified, uncontained and permanently accessible.
Shame is defined as "a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior." And what do all the advertisers out there know? That shaming sells. Public humiliation is a commodity, making an industry out of exposing information in a desensitized manner. The explosion of reality TV, gossip magazines, and news programming is founded on clicks. The more shame presented, the greater the desire to click becomes. If you click this link, click over to this channel, click to watch this video, business remains afloat. But at what cost? We have developed a culture of cyber bullying and trolling, saturated in invasions of privacy to detect and release this kind of information.
In the past, before drenched in social media, if something humiliating occurred to someone, their family and close friends were the only people aware of it. With the passage of time and some reflection, the experience or event would eventually fade into the background. Fast forward to a time of snap chat, hacking genius and location services, and your information is anything but private and unsearchable.
So, what happens when human error is no longer accompanied with compassion? When we lose the capacity to understand and value the human behind the story line we see on the screen? When anything and everything about our lives has the possibility of being scrutinized and publicly shared to sell more copies?
This is a dangerous cycle that is taking the lives of many, especially our teens, who suffer from such humiliation online that they truly don't see a brighter tomorrow, next week, next year. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more we numb ourselves to it and the lives it represents. And the more numb we get, the more we click, continuing to fuel financial gain for businesses off of someone else's suffering.
It is time to return to compassion when engaging with others on the web. We have choice in the matter. In what we choose to click on and what we choose to scroll past. In what we state to our audience and how we respond to others. We all want to be heard and with our hearts leading the discussion, we can set a clear intention of who we are and what we say, rather than speaking up merely for attention.
Before you decide to judge, condemn or shame someone, ask yourself what it would be like to walk a mile in their headline.