When Shaming Goes Wrong
There’s a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing of late and I want to address it as it’s something that has been on my mind for a bit. This will be a longer read but bear with me.
This need to shame folks into supporting our causes is something that needs to stop. This can extend from a variety of topics from politics, race and discrimination or even pop culture and maybe it’s because I’m around more liberal than conservative leaning people on a daily basis but on social media they are the biggest culprits of this shaming mentality. You can’t shame people into thinking like you because it’ll only create resentment and backlash in the end.
I can think of many examples of this. In politics, people want to label those who support Donald Trump or voted for him as just inherently bad people. Now I’m not going to defend Trump’s character because he is an overall sleazy person but he did a great job of speaking to the anger and resentment many feel in this country and some of those emotions are a result of these people being tired of being told how trash they are. I’d get fed up too if I’m constantly told about how privileged I am even if I’m not personally living that reality. If that’s not bad enough, I’d feel even worse not being able to defend myself because no one wants to listen to what I have to say. Say what you will about Trump but his message resonated with many people who felt forgotten about in 2016 and still does today even if the majority of us know deep down that he is a con man.
The friends who I’ve talked to that are brave enough to admit they voted for Trump know he’s not perfect by any means and don’t like him all that much but do respect his unapologetic ways and I personally can’t be mad at that because I understand where it comes from in a society that is forcing people to apologize for every and anything they said or did even if it was 20 or 30 years ago. Yup I’m talking about you Beto as you’ve been guilted to embark on an apology tour.
With popular culture and I’ve kept quiet on this but a lot of folks have asked me how I felt about R. Kelly and the documentary that came out earlier this year. I’ll say this, for me a lot of the outrage came across as hypocritical. I’m in no way defending his actions and assuming the accusations are true he will be dealt with but acting like people should boycott listening to his music when the man is a musical genius and has put out a lot of great music in the past 20+ years is crazy to me. It is possible to separate the craft from the person and if I feel like listening to the Ignition remix before I go out to party, I’m gonna do that.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function” and this quote certainly rings true with R. Kelly. After all, if we were to dismiss every celebrity for their past transgressions we’d be hard pressed to find folks in the entertainment industry who are of perfect moral standing. Me not listening to his past music now because of a documentary that came out two months ago is absurd, I guess Bump N Grind all of a sudden became a trash song now and I can no longer vibe to it because of Surviving R. Kelly? That’s silly and it’s not a coincidence that his music streaming went up significantly AFTER the release of the documentary.
Lastly I’m gonna talk about white privilege. I’ve talked to a few friends about this that happen to be white and they don’t deny the existence of white privilege but when we discount their opinions and experience because of their whiteness that’s a big problem too. It no longer turns into a productive conversation about us finding common ground or solutions on how we can fix things but instead turns into a one sided rant session where white people get told how wrong they are about everything. Can you see how that would create backlash?
That type of backlash creates a resentment and immediately puts folks on the defensive, some even go to the extreme of joining a hateful Alt-Right movement and while that’s a terrible thing to me I can understand the thought process behind why someone would get to that point.
The moral of the story is this, if you want support for your cause, be willing to have those conversations instead of labeling the minute someone disagrees with you or challenges your view point. Some people are brick walls and lost causes at the end of the day but there are others that want to understand and just don’t know how to go about doing so and that’s ok too. Taking the time to educate or share your experience rather than rant and rave at people who have no idea what that experience may be like will get us all further and create a more inclusive environment.