IN TWEET: PET SHAMING MORPHS INTO SPOTLIGHT TROLLING AS PEOPLE USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INCREASINGLY SILLY (AND OFTEN SAD) SELF-GRATIFICATION. ENOUGH!
By now I’m sure many of you have seen the picture above. If not, give it a click to check out the original post on Facebook. For the sake of this discussion, I'm going to assume the "stop smoking" plea from this girl is genuine. Of course, that’s always a dicey assumption to make online.
This is the latest twist in the already annoying "pet shaming" and "teen shaming" phenoms. Personally, I don't care that your puppy hides meat in the couch, that your teen son or daughter is a selfish brat or that your cat shreds the curtains while you're at work. In fact, I don't know why anyone else would. Sure, much of it is silly and harmless but we all know things like this will eventually take a turn down some sad, dark alley.
What value is there in public shaming anyway? Do people really think their pooch is gonna stop pooping on the sofa or that little Bobby or Caitlin will became model citizens because you humiliated them on Tumblr?I read THE SCARLET LETTER in high school (ok, I really just read the Cliffs Notes) so lesson learned. I'm not gonna Hester Prynne anyone on two or four legs and don’t know why anyone else would. At a minimum, it’s an asinine use of social media. At its worst, it leads to public scorn and other forms of bullying.
At the root of all of these images, cutesy or otherwise, is as an obsessive narcissism. An almost desperate need to grab the spotlight “just because.” The day I use my tiny corner of the internet to slap up a picture of me holding a poorly scrawled note about something in my life that impacts no one other than me, is the day I will happily delete this blog. In other words, not gonna happen.
With all that said, any "daddy" who makes their kid beg for likes on Facebook as a pre-condition for kicking the habit is not what I would call a model parent. It’s already bad enough that he smokes. It’s even worse that he’s using his bad habit as an excuse to cajole his kid into making a very public plea for help. Who does that? Since when did pimping out your kid qualify as good parenting?
At the end of the day, things like this “please like me so pappy stops smoking” campaign denigrate the memory of kids like Jamey Rodemeyer. Teens who endure real pain and suffering and use social media as both a coping mechanism and a way to help others in need.
Jamey Rodemeyer didn’t live to see his 15th birthday. He took his own life at the age of 14. His heartbreaking journey still lives on YouTube (be warned, you will need a box of tissue). More importantly, his video posts have helped countless other at-risk teens choose life. At a minimum, we owe something better than “teen shaming” and spotlight trolling to all the Jamey Rodemeyers out there; past, present and future.