I really hate to blame the victim…but I never let that stop me.
Of course, if someone is preyed upon, the true villain is the person doing the preying. I’m not saying, “Well, what was she wearing?” here. Calm down; I’m not a monster. What I’m saying here is “Make a fool of me once, shame on you. Make a fool of me twice, shame on me.” There’s a growing resistance the latter part of that idea. And the key word, I think, is shame.
Social media is the battleground for a war on shame (among other things). Now, shame isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s built into our biological wiring; like pride or jealousy. It feels bad, but much in the same way that pain alerts us of injury. Shame is a social device that alerts us that our behavior may be unhealthy to ourselves or others.
That off-color joke you think is really funny? Maybe you should gauge your audience before you share it so you don’t upset someone. Your tastes in entertainment reveal a lot about your personality. Your favorite anime may be cause for some introspection. That group you associate with that everyone seems to make fun of? Maybe they’re not quite as awesome as you think. And fezzes are NOT cool–you only think so because a fucking TV show said so and even that was supposed to be a joke, you clod.
Before social media, our shame kept us quiet. We were more prone to listen and learn from the examples of those who could take the lead. But now everyone has a voice. And for all the good that’s done, there’s another side of that coin. Rather than listening, people are more interested in talking. And those people tend to only be interested in listening to other people who parrot back their same ideas. Rather than coming together as a community, the folks who feel shame for themselves have instead taken to narcissistic crusades to validate their personal damage.
I have my own shame, but that’s an important distinction: I own my shame. The prime example is how I’m ashamed of my weight. However, instead of crying over societal stigma or accusing others of being fat-shaming sizeists, I’m motivated to make [at least some] effort to get in better shape. No doubt, it’s the most challenging solution, but ultimately it’s the most rewarding if I succeed in overcoming my weight problem. I’m also the first guy in line to label me an idiot…but there isn’t all that much I can do about that. In the meantime, I live with my shame. It’s my burden to bare; not my peers.
When you own your shame, you master it. Shame becomes a tool that you can wield. Either you can use it as motivational fuel to improve yourself or you can accept that part of yourself–embrace it in your own security–and move on with your life.