Snark and Remorse

I read this post on Salon.com and it really made me think about how I have willingly contributed to the public shaming of other people.  This is a fairly common occurrence on facebook, reddit and many other forms of internet-driven social media.  Someone gets their hands on someone’s embarrassing, unfortunate or out of context moment and soon it is spreading like wildfire on a parched prairie.  We laugh, we make snarky comments and completely dehumanize the subject.  As this is happening, those involved completely lose sight of the fact that this is a moment in the life of another person just like us, and that we will hurt them and the people who care about them when our savagery comes to their attention.

seida_viral_photo-620x412In the case of the woman who wrote the article, she knows she is overweight and it is for reasons beyond her control.  She cast aside whatever self-consciousness is attached to knowing how she looks and dressed up like her hero.  In the eyes of others, her appearance is unattractive, her attire inappropriate.  She has been excoriated for wearing short shorts and a tight tank top, the anonymous masses on the internet have determined she should be hiding her body out of shame.  While she is not uncomfortable with how she looks, we are, and that discomfort is taken out on her in public.

This is the first time I had seen this image, and while I was not among those flogging her publicly, I am guilty of similar behavior involving others captured in a moment I have deemed worthy of scorn.  I feel ashamed.  Why do I do it?  Is it because of my own rampant self-consciousness?  Perhaps in heaping snark on others, it’s a way to assure myself that as fucked up and bizarre as I might be, I am still better than others.  Pointing out the flaws of others is such a deeply ingrained part of my persona that I wonder if I can still be funny and entertaining without using others as props for ridicule.

I feel awful.  I need to change.  A lot of us do.

~ by schlippo on February 28, 2014.

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