I’m a product of the internet age, but I also know what life was like before the internet too.
When you fucked up, you did so with the knowledge that only a few folks might really know about it. You’d go down the rabbit-hole of bad behaviour and would rise to live another day.
These days, not so much. There’s often a camera in proximity. The internet is rife with people experiencing their worst moment while some fucker with a camera has caught it all to share with the world.
I understand there are all kinds of wrongness with being judged for our worst moment. Lord knows I’d be pink-faced if mine got posted. But I’d also deal with it, because like it or not, I was the one who had the power to stop that ball from rolling. I was the one who lacked manners, empathy, grace, or whatever it theoretically might have been that got me shamed on the intertubes. I’d suck it up, own up to my crap, apologize, and move the hell on.
There are all these web pros who talk about just how awful it is that your prior bad act should taint you forever, and how this is some new public-shaming horror we’re living with, but accountability was a big thing in most of history.
Back in the day, newspapers printed the arrest blotter weekly, letting it be known who was busted and for what, often with mugshots there too. The fear of getting caught on the blotter often inspired good behaviour.
Pretty basic, that: Don’t want to be exposed for law-breaking, being an asshole, or other crimes of poor judgment? Then behave like you’re a citizen in a lawful society. With good behaviour in public, your chances of being shamed on the internet decrease dramatically.
If I Can Restrain Myself, You Can Too
I might be a loudmouth on the internet, and I may even speak with bravado and edge in public, but I’m also restrained, polite, and gracious. I hold the doors open for folks, I thank shop staff for allowing me to browse, and all that kind of stuff.
Hell, even when I found out that I was in for a 17-hour flight delay on my 4-day weekend in Vegas to celebrate my brother’s wedding, I started off with “Oh, for FUCK’S sake.” Then I said “I know it’s not YOU inconveniencing me, but–”
I handled it with a couple swear words followed by tact. I think that’s acceptable. Of course we can’t keep every emotion in check. But the way some people behave is not okay, it’s not within the “acceptable” outburst parameters.
Newsflash: Decency Isn’t a Modern Creation
And here’s the thing: It’s not some NEWSFLASH that it’s uncool to harass people or treat them like shit. It’s not like you’ve been on the planet for 30 years and then someone changed the rules and said “being a dick ain’t cool, yo.”
“Oh, man. I can’t be an asshole now? God, why don’t I get these memos?”
We’re taught from KINDERGARTEN that we have to be nice and polite. How are people missing this?
If you’re past the age of 20 and you haven’t figured out what basic human decency involves, maybe you deserve to be shamed on the web. Maybe that’s the only way it’ll get through your thick skull.
If you have outbursts like these and rage issues, then you have a problem and you need to deal with that shit. Because guess what? The rest of us are tired of dealing with it, and we have omnipresent video cameras now.
You Go, Girl: Indian Women Fight Back
Take this incident on an Indian flight where a creepy old man thought he was entitled to touch the legs/ass of a woman sitting next to him. She had enough. She stood up, turned the camera on him, and shamed him.
There is no way a man gets to age 60 not understanding that it’s not his right to touch women. There is no way this behaviour is an “oopsy-daisy.”
Or how about these two Indian sisters who went viral last December for raging against the men pawing them on a public bus?
I’ve been on the bus when a man has fondled my ass. I only wish I had the guts THEN to do this. I sure as hell would NOW. I’m over 40 and I’m over that shit.
In India, a culture of rape has been practiced by some and ignored by the law and most other folks for far too long. The internet is giving these women the chance to fight back for the first time ever, with what is a very powerful weapon in their culture: Shame.
Shame is a big deal in India, much more so than here in North America, and I have no doubt this man will suffer consequences with his family and friends as a result of this outburst. Do I pity him in the blowback he’s about to experience? Not really.
Suck it Up, Buttercup
YOU are accountable for your actions. When YOU act like an ass and then you experience consequences for it, the world isn’t to blame. You are. If you had just taken 10 seconds to think about your behaviour before acting on your basest instincts, then the world wouldn’t have had to take you to task for it.
If you thought for a split second, “Would I want this treatment returned to me?” maybe you would’ve pressed the “no asshole” button and backed off. Are we really saying that modern life is SO HARD that people can’t stop for a split second to consider the consequence? Come on! Get real!
I’d rather live in a world where everyone gets to make mistakes and grow from it the old-fashioned way, but when it comes to men like this and their feeling of entitlement with harassing women, or people who shout and rage at others just doing their jobs, or who are knowingly acting incredibly petty and mean, then maybe this is the only way we, the decent folk on the planet, can say “DUDE, it’s NOT OKAY to do that.”
Because, dude, it’s not okay.