D. T. Max’s article, The Public Shaming Pandemic, talks on multiple stories ranging from Covid-19 victims to racist actions and our society using the internet to publicly shame others for their actions and circumstances. Shaming is not a new idea, as it has long been an accepted moral behavioral correction tool. Shaming is inherently not meant to be truly harmful, but instead is meant to correct negative moral behavior. Additionally, care ethics tell us how we should act in decision making and morality by using a relational approach to ethics and differs from many other approaches because of its consideration of emotions. It relies heavily on relationships among people, particularly individual relationships. Therefore, shaming is most effective when it comes from a close individual relationship, such as a parent or another individual that is respected.
The internet is a very powerful tool that has allowed for connections among people across the world at a much larger scale than was ever possible before. This is great for the spreading of information until it isn’t. It is just as easy for false information to be spread as it is for information that is reliable, and shocking hearsay tends to spread the fastest. Additionally, there is a certain amount of desensitization that comes with interacting behind a computer screen. It doesn’t feel as if a relationship is being formed- it is just you and your screen.
“Cancel culture”, which has become very popular on social media, is one recent way shaming has evolved to fit into our increasingly online society. Unfortunately, this form of shaming is much more permanent and detrimental overall. What was once meant to be a moral behavioral corrector has now become a platform for widespread rejection of a person often based off a single action. In my opinion, cancel culture is not really an effective method of shaming. As it is not a personal relationship, many do not care what random Facebook or Tiktok users are saying about them. Additionally, while often the shaming is warranted, if an individual is “cancelled”, does the reprimand they receive really do anything for them if they as an individual are no longer accepted by society?