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Should we use Twitter to publicly shame people?

3 min read

I have felt the need to write this post after an incident on Twitter, it made me think! Should we use Twitter to publicly shame people?

I won’t go into what has happened, but it wasn’t me that was attacked and nor was it me in the lynch mob!

Social media can be and is amazing and especially for people like me who do not socialise in the real world, it is a connection for us to to society.

But social media also has a very dark side and it is a beast that can quickly turn around and bite you on the backside, I have seen it happen too often and it happened last night.

What happened and who it happened to is not important here, it was merely X was accused by Y of something, a hashtag group joined in and so X blocked Y before then deleting their account.

They offered no defense!

When we are speaking to someone via social media, someone we only know through a screen, we do not know that persons back story, we have no idea what they have been through and what they are currently going through.

So when we use the keyboard to attack that person for a wrong doing, the keyboard has the potential to cause mental health injury and even death.

The old saying

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words shall never hurt me.

It is wrong!

Words hurt, words have hurt and they continue to hurt, words can be deadly.

What the issue was last night is irrelevant here, the question is should we use Twitter to publicly shame people?

People have become used to platforms like Twitter being used in this way, after all we are all quick to jump onto our phones or laptop to attack the actions of a politician or a celebrity in the latest show on TV.

Some may say that it depends on the severity of the crime as to whether or not we have a say on what has happened.

The recent show Manhunt covered in Season 2 the story of the bomber Eric Rudolph who bombed the Atlanta games in 1996 and how Richard Jewell a security guard at the Olymic Games went from being a hero who got people to safety after spotting the suspicious package, to the prime suspect because of the media.

He was innocent but it destroyed his life!

When someone is arrested, they are offered protection by the law and yet on social media, a lynch mob can form in minutes and there is no protection from it.

I hold my hands up and admit that I have used social media to moan about politicians and to berate celebrities on TV shows.

But I am now very mindful of the words that I type because of the impact they might have!

Social Media should never be the first tool or even the second or third tool used in a situation like this, I am not sure it should even be the last tool to be used because of the impact that these lynch mobs can have.

When someone is outed on Social Media for a wrong doing, we do not see the result of this. That person either blocks the people attacking them, they delete their account or they just log off.

We do not see what happens then!

Some people are very lucky to be able to just forget something like this, but for others it will be replayed again and again in their heads and when they go to bed at night, when there are no distractions, it will bounce around in their head.

As it is replayed in that persons head, it does more and more damage.

Sometimes the result is that person taking their own life!

The same question stands for the online paedophile hunters. Now I will at this point make it clear that I loathe them, they are scum and deserve to be hung, but should social media be used to out them?

The results can and have been that someone is faced with a lawless mob of rightfully angry people.

But should we allow ourselves to work outside of the law?

Again I ask!

Should we use Twitter to publicly shame people?

Is it really ever worth that?

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