Recently brought to public attention by the internet phenomenon known as Gamer Gate, doxxing (quite popular among SJWs in general) is seen by many as vile, unnecessary and the product of inflated egos. Sending posses, either virtual or in real life, to harass people and many times get them fired, is fanatical in the eyes of anyone with a shred of respect for freedom of thought. Or for freedom as a concept, why not.
The only thing that can be said about engaging with these types is precisely that; engaging – one’s choice to interact with them, the risk taken while knowing (or suspecting) their rapaciousness.
The same cannot be said about the people who are randomly targeted simply for existing, without having initiated any contact with those who point the finger of scorn at them. Note: I am not referring to activists and people who make their opinions public in general, attracting debates and rebuttals. Those are ideological in nature and needn’t become too personal (or personal at all). And in case someone might accuse me of doing the same with PF, I must stress any observations I’ve made were not meant as a personal attack; these people form an ideological group seeking to proselitise.
This grotesque caricature of Police Academy 4, “Citizens on patrol”, is very worrying indeed.
Stranger shaming refers to the public targeting of someone’s life choices or habits, flagged by a feature the “hunter” is looking for in a crowd or on social media. It usually consists of being photographed, paparazzi-style, and displayed on dedicated websites for all to see, along with poisonous comments – just for being in the bastard’s line of sight at the wrong time. The target, implicitly, does not seek out this attention and is often not aware of what is happening, until they find their image (and perhaps even some details) online.
Apparently, this trend was started by the famous “anti man-spreading” campaigners, who freely took photos of blokes sitting on trains or buses, minding their own business, in order to prove that their claim was legitimate. The revenge came in the form of a Facebook page showing women who eat on the tube, in unflattering images and with even more unflattering comments. This was a pointless thing to do for two reasons.
First, it picked on random – as in innocent – people, not on the ones who had engaged in the man-spreading ridiculousness (perhaps that would’ve been classed as stalking). Those who put the page together had no consideration for that fact and for doing the exact same thing those women had done, without even affecting them. Through that, they were indeed being sexist, taking their revenge on women in general. Secondly, there was a pointless backlash to that as well – a day of ostentatious eating on the tube, organised by some women. There’s nothing to suggest a connection between the people being stranger-shamed in any of these phases of the conflict; each group lashed out, in turn, at complete strangers, thus propagating this phenomenon.
As far as I see it, there are three possible explanations for it.
Infantile behaviour. Those who invented the gadgets we use daily gave a great gift to the world. But cameras, akin to other items such as guns and weed, can be dangerous when left in the hands of every idiot. Stranger-shaming can be perceived as flipping the bird to a certain category, though the implications can be more serious, depending on the trait one picks on. Infantile individuals, who laugh at banalities, such as someone’s fly being open by mistake or someone tripping in the street, think just about anything is worth pointing out. They think it’s tongue-in-cheek and does not cause real harm.Surprising funny blunders out there can be great if no one is harmed – take engrish.com for example. But when you make it personal, specifically targeting an individual and pointing the finger, that is needlessly hurtful.
The disappearance of the concept of privacy. Unlike those who laugh at small accidents, but not maliciously, gawking types (some of them pathological gossips) seem to think they are entitled to see and judge the lives of others through a magnifying glass. I’ve no doubt some do it to escape their own frustrations or conceal their true inclinations (holier-than-thou types often harbour deeply repressed aspects). In their quest to prove their superiority, they cannibalise any available target by virtue signalling. “It’s none of my business” does not reside in their vocabulary. It is no surprise therefore that they approach every new ability to snoop and immortalise trivialities as a good thing.
Social engineering at its best. An intelligent, decent person is rightfully worried when the general acrimony gets to the level of people being ready to attack anyone around them, albeit not physically, just for a mild disapproval. When ordinary citizens become data gatherers, informants on others, for little to no reason. This is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes, of having to look over your shoulder constantly to check who is watching and listening. It’s no wonder that social anxiety is growing and some people are simply unwilling to leave their homes except for strict necessity, while being bombarded with images of others being publicly embarrassed. This truly looks like a technique to make people fear each other and the places they live in or travel to.
Needless to say, not all self-labelled humorous material is for humour’s sake. Stranger shaming can involve anything from poor manners, whether accidental or habitual, to personal life choices, which are nobody’s business. These range from wearing leather, using too much electricity, not reusing reusable items and anything like that, to the way you bring your kids up (gender-designed toys only, no TV, certain restrictions or permission others do not agree with). Here’s where social media comes in. Those who are so quick to share details regarding their private lives should be aware of these vultures seeking to put others on “disgrace lists” for not fitting into their hallucinogenic-tinted utopias.
More and more, we are seeing a push towards standardisation in every aspect of life, where diversity, though so trumpeted nowadays, becomes intolerable. In their own heads, people run themselves through the mincer of public opinion before they dare to open their mouths. Just anything can cause outrage to some closeted fanatic, who becomes flushed with anger at the slightest “trigger”.
We might see a push-back from the slowly cooked communal frog, or we might not. Some of us are more hopeful than others.
I will edit sometime to add relevant examples.