There’s been a lot of talk lately about Internet bullying and the damaging effects it has on those who are targeted. Remember the story of Amanda Todd, the teen who committed suicide in October after years of constant online and physical shaming? Google “teen commits suicide after online bullying” and you will get over 4.5 million hits--a staggering amount. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to damage done to people of any age through Internet harassment.
Does it make it okay, then, if the tables are turned on cyber-assholes who post racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive content? That’s what Matt Binder, creator of the Tumblr blog Public Shaming, has done--carefully curating offensive screen-capped tweets and juxtaposing them with tweets from the same people to expose their hypocrisy and, some would say, attempt to make their lives seem pathetic.
Binder has written in the about section of the blog: “I discovered that as I would retweet these, my followers would start @replying these people and let them know they were idiots. They would then delete their offending tweet. Well, I couldn’t let that happen. So, I screenshot away.”
Truthfully, every tweet that Binder posts on his blog is downright offensive, and I would advocate accountability for such hateful language on a public site. However, do the jerks deserve to be harassed, repeatedly? They should never have posted hateful comments on a public site, but the ensuing attacks they receive may push the boundaries of how to handle such ignorance and idiocy.
Some “shaming” blogs can be funny--if they aren’t directed at human beings. The Dog Shaming blog is hilarious, and I’m sure Fido and FiFi won’t know the difference if their cuteness is exploited on the web every time they piss off their owners.
In this case, does fighting public nastiness by throwing it back at someone make it all right, or does it just propagate the vicious cycle of trolling, with potentially horrible results? Discuss...
Screencaps via publicshaming.tumblr.com