Practice Positive: It’s a shame

Practice Positive columnist Dawn Carson says there's a fine line between humour and bullying when it comes to sharing on social media.

What would do if you saw someone standing with their child, telling anyone who would listen, how they had misbehaved that day? Would you feel badly for the child being humiliated? Perhaps you would approach the parent and say they were being inappropriate. Some people would even call social services on the parent.

You would think that people would understand that shaming their child in public is a bit disturbing. You would think. Recently though, through the false anonymity of social media, parents and pet owners are using shame on a regular basis.

People post pictures of their pets with signs either in front of them or hung around their necks that say things like “I ate the newspaper when my owner was out” or “I destroyed the lawn chair while my owner was at work.” The animal in the picture tends to look a bit guilty, especially if it is a dog. People find this hilarious. They like the photo, share the photo, comment on the photo. It’s all a big laugh.

Then there are some people who post the same sort of photos of their children. The kids hold the signs, or even have shirts with the shaming statement written on them. There have been parents who, when they discovered their child was a thief or a bully, had them hold a sign at the side of the road for all to see. Does this not seem abusive to you? Do we really think that shaming is the right way to go about tackling issues like stealing and bullying?

This kind of activity on social media sites is rampant. I personally think that if we are to make the world a better place it really needs to start at home. Shaming is a technique that has been used throughout history in terrible ways. My thoughts immediately turn to groups who used humiliation and shaming as a way to control another group of people. It was a technique displayed in the movie 12 Years A Slave, for example. Now some may say that it’s just a silly picture; that it’s no big deal. Why make a fuss.

I’m not someone who normally goes on a rant, but when things like this happen, I feel it is important to say something. I am on a mission to help people live more positive lives. When we engage in activities like shaming, we go against positive mindset completely. The sad thing is most people don’t realize that what they turn their attention and energy to, even in a joking way, affects their ability to practice positivity. Let’s make the world a better place through intelligent dialogue,and humour that is actually funny.

– Dawn Carson is an author and public speaker who lives in Cloverdale.

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