(I tried to write this erudite, all encompassing first sentence, but I'm very mildly hungover and my thoughts are still slightly jumbled, so I'm just going to plunge right in.)
It came to a head when a Facebook fan page I subscribe to, that of an animal shelter that does excellent work and usually places or homes most strays that come their way, had as a status update, details about the brood (is that the right collective? Jumble? Bag? Clutch?) of puppies they had just been foisted with. Included in this update were details about the irresponsible owners, and that's what made me a bit uncomfortable. Rather than just saying, 'oh, you know, this is how the dogs were treated' which was pretty bad in itself, they chose to share that the former owner was blahblahblah (insert details yourself.) I commented on this update, saying pretty much what I'm saying here, don't see how it's relevant and so on and they replied saying the details had been posted to "shame them".
That brought me to a halt. It's not Animal Shelter's job to shame anyone, surely? They could've said, "The dogs weren't vaccinated and allowed to roam about and get pregnant a lot", which is true and everyone would've been equally shocked and disgusted, but I don't think they had any right, any OBLIGATION even, to put up details like they did. It's like saying, "eM is a bad cat owner and SHE SMOKES." My smoking has nothing to do with my cat owning and for another, it's none of anyone's business whether or not I smoke, but if I was a bad cat owner, then I suppose it would be kind of a social responsibility to tell me off about that. Right?
I think we're going too far with social media. This may seem like I'm being all old school and "oh, no one needs a watchman" but the truth is, words that are written are far more permanent than words that are said. Stuff on the internet lingers forever, coming up like a bad meal during a Google search.
Then, there's this blogger I sometimes read (mostly because her life couldn't be more different than mine) and she had a post about Kony and how she refused to say anything to her many hundreds of thousand Twitter followers. You can read the post here, but in a nutshell, she just couldn't be bothered, for the most part. She has other things she supports, and she didn't think just because she had that many readers, that she should force something down their throats. Fair enough. This is where my thoughts about social media responsibility get kind of mixed up. Not specifically the whole Kony thing (which is turning out to be a fiasco, by the looks of it) but then I was wondering, if you have, say, over 10,000 Twitter followers or several hundred friends on Facebook or a blog that gets lots of hits, shouldn't you in some way, shape or form, be giving back, as it were? On the other hand, it's not your funeral. You should be able to do what you dos. But, back in the day, if you were a well known journalist or author or something, you picked your cause and you raised awareness about your cause and people still do that and just because we're all on the internet and it's free, doesn't mean that we don't have to help. On the other other hand, maybe your audience is just like, "Dude, we don't want to hear about all the things you're doing to make yourself feel better! We just want the content you normally provide!" and so by posting about these things, you're basically running the risk of losing your readers.
And, coming back to Facebook, I saw a status on my cousin's wall the other day, where he said he received a bunch of anonymous photos, not too explicit, by someone obviously sending it to the wrong number. He wanted a second opinion on whether it would be okay, if he blurred the faces out, to post them on Facebook. Ultimately, he put himself in the sender's shoes, and decided against it. I don't think a lot of people would be that considerate.
I love Tripadvisor and consult it regularly, but sometimes, I can't help but wonder if the really, REALLY shit reviews are just someone with an axe to grind. I've started moderating my Twitter somewhat, so that I'm a little less gratuitously bitchy. Do I really want to say that, I ask myself, if I'm having a bad meal or someone in the public sphere is pissing me off and so on. And mostly, I realise, it can be avoided, without losing my honesty to my Twitter followers.
Naming and shaming is all very well, but I think at some point, we need to draw the line. It's not our job to be the parent to random people on the internet, or be their Supreme Power or whatever. Say what is absolutely necessary (and I know, I know, I haven't always lived by this rule, but I am now.) If typing out something about someone else makes you feel:
a) slightly sick about how they'll react to it.
b) filled with vengeful glee.
you probably should rethink that.