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(Peeved guy looking at smartphone) I can't believe it. It's 10 a.m., and I still don't know who we're supposed to be mass-shaming today.

Ain’t that a shame

Ain’t that a shame published on 1 Comment on Ain’t that a shame

It rarely fails. I’ll post a little rant to Facebook about some company that did something I thought was dumb, without disclosing their identity. And someone will chime in with “Who are they? Name and shame!”

They often mean that ironically, without malice. But the temptation to turn vigilante is always there. And often, the accused rarely has any idea they’re even on trial in the court of social opinion until long after the prosecution has rested its case, the jury has returned a guilty verdict and the executioners are knocking on the door of their Twitter account.

And it’s not always mob mentality, although that’s certainly what gets the most attention. (See So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed for a pretty decent examination of how that kind of incident can unfold… and the wildly disproportionate damage it can do.) Sometimes it’s just judge mental, shaming comments on blog posts or news stories.

Try posting about your parenting sometimes, especially if you’re a mom. For some reason, there’s a horde of people ready to judge, condemn and shame every perceived parenting failure. They cart around a metric crap-tonne of unexamined assumptions, and they’ll blithely say the most awful, hurtful, brutal things.

“Be kind,” the saying goes, “for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” That battle is usually hidden, and the glimpses we get — especially online — are just molecule-thin slivers. They have none of the context we’d need to truly understand the choices someone else makes, especially under pressure.

I believe in accountability, and there are times when shame is richly deserved. But we owe it to each other to at least suspend judgement until we can dig deep and find some equivalent to the presumption of innocence that we grant accused criminals. We mostly don’t know shit about each other, and a default assumption of goodwill until proven otherwise seems like a pretty good place to start if we want the online and offline worlds to have at least some sense of community and compassion.

“Be my friend… Godfather.”

“Be my friend… Godfather.” published on No Comments on “Be my friend… Godfather.”

What is it about the mob that makes me think “social media”? Is it the opening scene of The Godfather, where Don Corleone forces Bonasera to ask him to be his friend? Is it the resemblance of most Terms of Service to loan shark agreements? Is it just that the incessant torrent of Mafia Wars advertising has finally taken its toll?

Whatever the reason, here y’go. For the first time in a while, this one was drawn with an actual pen on genuine used-to-be-a-tree paper. And then shot on an iPhone.