Public Shaming… and Your Own Worst Decisions

What is the single worst decision you have ever made?

What if, by chance, your worst decision was caught on video? Or perhaps someone snapped a few photos? What if it was uploaded, shared, and spread across the planet?

(Heck, let’s not even talk about your worst decision. Let’s consider your ninth or tenth poorest decision, down the list of moral or ethical severity. In fact, it might be something you even think about doing or saying everyday, tucked away back in the darker recesses of your mind.)

What if millions of people based everything they thought about you on that single video or image?

Does that make sense? Do you define yourself by your poorest choices? If not, upon what grounds would other people’s poorest choices be appropriate grounds for defining them?

Why do we pounce on the viral mistake of the hour, like a bloodthirsty mob in need of a sacrificial scapegoat?

Perhaps, when we shame others (from the safe distance of our anonymous keyboards) we ourselves can feel just a little bit better about our own slip ups. Perhaps our mob mentality is collective self-appeasement made manifest. As long as another poor victim is suffering on the alter of humiliation, and being pilloried in the stocks of shame, we ourselves, individually, are safe from one another’s prying ridicule.

The mob has not changed. We have simply traded stoning and lynching for mentions and hashtags. It is notably less violent now, but only negligibly less devastating.

Shame on the shamers? No, I am too guilty. This is self indictment. This is a confession.

Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.

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