Jan 262011

On Monday a friend and I were lamenting how horrifically and enthusiastically a person of our mutual acquaintance is publicly celebrating her adulterous affair.  The destruction of one’s family is regrettably blasé all by itself anymore, so commence the mainstreaming of also thoroughly humiliating one’s spouse, I suppose.  Did you catch that New York Times story, by the way?

Anyway, my friend mentioned the omnipresence of social media as a frequent factor in such behavior, and I’ve been chewing on that since.  Doubtless it’s a profound sociological force, but have you ever mulled exactly what it does?  Does it change behavior?  Magnify it?  Both?  Something else?

Some people use a ubiquitous online presence to pretend to be a different person.  Of that I am thoroughly convinced, because I’ve seen it so much.  In 17 years of having an identifiable net persona, that’s never interested me at all.  I don’t think anyone who knows me in real life would tell you I was a markedly different person online.  I have trouble writing an innocuous motive for someone who does want that.

I guess there are situations like the one involving the above skank person where such might be a factor.  But I think a more important characteristic of self-publishing (particularly to a personal network, as opposed to the web at large) in such situations is that it magnifies poor judgment.

Mind, I don’t think the mistakes it enables are any worse morally than the mistakes anyone ever made.  But they’re much harder to take back, and I think they also acquire an unfortunate gravity that then feeds on itself.  Hmmm…I already trashed him once; this is just more of the same.  No big deal.  Submit.  Let me post some nauseating lovey-dovey talk about mah boyfran, and who cares who sees it?  The children I have with my cuckolded husband can handle it.  Submit.

Or is it hopelessly wishful thinking to suppose that there is even that much self-reflection?

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 Posted by at 7:57 pm

  7 Responses to “Social media didn’t kill shame, but they’re an accessory to the crime”

  1. I am continually amazed at what people will post on social media sites. To keep from being one of “those people”, I follow a strict policy: my boss & my mother-in-law are both FB friends, and my husband has my password. Goes a long way in encouraging me to run it through the filter first.

  2. Well said Bo.

  3. My husband and I have discussed this sort of behavior before and I’ve said (and still believe) that shame and personal accountability are in short supply. When there’s no danger that others will shame you for inappropriate behavior and no one will even try to bring you up short for behaving like an animal (apologies to animals) people will continue to behave like sociopathic pleasure junkies. We don’t need to start hanging scarlet letters on anyone but come ON…when a friend or relative is doing something you know is wrong, how do you stand by and silently endorse this behavior? I had a friend who once said she’d date a married man. I was shocked. I always thought that maybe I could sympathize with a woman who’d fallen in love with someone who had lied about being married BUT that I’d still expect her to end it when she found out. But then to find that someone I knew, someone I thought was a decent person, could be so blase about destroying someone else’s home was a real shock. I did not, however, say “Oh, that’s cool.” because it damn well wasn’t and I made that abundantly clear.

  4. A narcissist in real life will use any social media outlet as an amplifier. Likewise, a person who is able to exercise self-control in all other aspects of their life is not generally going to go hog-wild on the ‘net.

    I think the biggest difference is that engaging people on social media platforms increases the amount of actual encounters, and that larger number – and the greater exposure one gets as a result – seems to make anyone’s voice that much stronger or prominent as a result.

    If that made any sense. I know what I want to say, but the brain is failing to comply.

  5. Good inputs, all. Thank you.

    What’s it take to make promise keeping a hip thing to do?

  6. Promise keeping? I dunno. That’s a question for the ages, my man.

  7. […] this topic while I cut the grass today.  I kept coming back to comparing it to my online persona.  I’ve blogged before about the motivations of people who want to be someone different online, and wondered whether any […]

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