Social Media: The Shame Game ?

The hyper-sensitivities of online social spaces have created a new moral matrix…

The ways in which the new public (information) spaces of social media are shaping the expectations and assumptions placed, in many cases enforced, on individual behaviour – contain significant revelations for this shared digital world of ours.

This particular online shaming story had a happy ending.

The power of internalised self-perceptions garnered from the assertions and judgements of others – this has always been an energising aspect of human social and psychological identity. The hyper-sensitivities of online social spaces have created this new moral matrix, one in which the baselines for participation and the parameters for acceptable behaviour are so rapidly evolving that just keeping up with the requirements to maintain social relevance, perhaps always an effort, has now become exhausting.

Old school public shaming.

We can expect to observe a reflexive social media effect of “tuning out”, where some people desensitise to the needs and expectations of their adopted online communities. Responding to these new moral pressures with a degree of burnout and fatigue, they will perhaps either: switch off altogether and drop out of the online competition; retreat into more rigidly defined cliques set in opposition to the accelerating moral metamorphoses they perceive everywhere around them; or, in a general panic and anxiety of self-identity which may exist already but have been intensified by the contextual fluidity of this world (and its reflexively dynamic self) – they may turn to aggressively competitive attempts to define their own boundaries and identities through public displays of online trolling and harassment at varying degrees of sophistication.


Context: The Shame Culture
Related: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

5 replies on “Social Media: The Shame Game ?”

What’s interesting is trying to disentangle two causative factors when looking at social arenas like 4chan and tumblr that use anonymous and pseudoanonymous avatars.
1) How much of this behavior is “innate” in the will, and can find expression only because its virtuality prevents any backlash in the real?
2) How much of this behavior is shaped by virtuality, in other words, desires that are created ex nihlio by the social space of the virtual world.

If you know any interesting leads on this question, I’d be eager to find out.

Liked by 1 person

Thankyou. I have been hoping someone would ask me something like this.

These points (1 and 2) are of course two vectors of approach on the same issue: the nature of virtuality in cyberspace and (by implication) the ways in which behaviour in the virtual world is necessarily shaped or patterned by the parameters, boundaries (or freedoms!) of abstraction manifested in the psychological and social identities encapsulated or generated by this notionally virtual space. As I suspect you already know, this is not necessarily a simple bundle to unpack but it is exactly what I enjoy attempting to untangle. I am often enough dramatically incorrect but feel that the discovery innate to creative composition provides ample fodder for future retrospection and growth; I think I require a more generous space with which to construct my partial and incomplete truths…

(I’m a bit “wordy”, apologies in advance…)


It’s also worth pointing out that ironically, getting laughed at by trolls on 4chan seems to have been one of the best things to have ever happened to this person.

Liked by 1 person

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