Don’t Point Fingers Regardless of Your Intentions

Ronson was onto something when he analyzed the Stanford Prison Experiment and interviewed the people involved. He thought he had debunked this widely known experiment but instead, his findings were still incredibly applicable to the observations he makes on social media and the viewpoints danah boyd shares in her book It’s Complicated. Specifically, they both discuss social media as an immensely powerful tool that can be used for good or bad but at the end of the day it is the person behind the screen who is at fault for their actions online.

Boyd examines the presence of bullying amongst teens on social media and Ronson examines the modern publicity of shaming. Regardless, both agree that about root of any good or bad and boyd explains herself when she says: ““People choose what to spread online, but the technologies that they use to do so are created to increase the visibility of content that will attract the most attention” (Boyd 146). Social media users decide what they post, whether it may be an insensitive tweet about AIDS or an attack in response to that. Nevertheless, this content is more public than ever because things like retweets, shares, likes and reposts exist. Just over a decade ago, this wasn’t the case; the only people who had a voice were people in the public eye but now “The silenced were getting a voice. It was like the democratization of justice.” However, some people may not know what to do with this newfound power or how to use it for good.

I think this goes back to Ronson’s discovery: study participant, Dave Eshelman, who played the role as a guard and seemed to have become irrationally violent admitted that everything he did was on purpose because he thought he was doing something good at the time. This directly relates to boyd’s position “The dynamics of drama and attention don’t unfold because of social media, even if teens can use technology for these purposes” (Boyd 147). Twitter is not to blame for the absurd tweets sent to Sacco about deserving to get fired and raped. Twitter users thought they were doing something good by addressing an inappropriate tweet but although their intentions may have been honest they were just adding to the cycle of violence.

I don’t know if this stems from my optimistic nature, but I genuinely feel that the vast majority of people are not evil to the core. Shamings happen because in a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious and teens bully because they are so easily influenced by their peers. Ronson observes the powerful phenomena of public shaming on social media and boyd picks apart the roles of social media and of its users. I feel that they too would agree that everyone has flaws but it is much easier to pick at someone else’s and forget your own.

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Author: Isabella D

I am a junior at the University of Delaware, studying English, Advertising and French.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Point Fingers Regardless of Your Intentions”

  1. I really like the quote that you chose to include from boyd. I agree that the reason we have issues with public shaming today lie in the fact that social media/internet platforms increase visibility. This goes for both those doing the shaming, as well as those being shamed. Moreover, people are more likely to say something online that is taken the wrong way or do something that they will be shamed for. On the other hand, the shaming is amplified because of the fact that these sites increase the number of people who will witness the shaming, and might even join in.

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  2. Isabella-I also believe in that the power of the screen really relies on the person behind it. We can either be big forces of bad or good with the tools that we have at our disposal today. Boyd I think has it right on this one. I mean maybe Ronson feels this way too, but his book WAS on shaming…so the positive promotion that occurs online really wouldn’t have fit.
    I don’t think you’re being too optimistic!

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  3. Isabella, I agree with the points you make here. Since technology and social media are such new and powerful tools, I’m not sure if people know how to use them to the best extent yet. It is overwhelming for those that finally have a voice to share their thoughts and opinions. However, until people learn to control their negativity online, we will continue to face cases of bullying and shaming.

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  4. FYI, we decided to use your post in our presentation Monday, the contrast between the rest of the groups’ pieces and yours in regards to optimism and pessimism with these problems is intriguing. If there is any particular part you thought was interesting or worth talking about for the class then we can present it.

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  5. Isabella, Thoughtful post! I’d want to think more with you about how the internet promotes (or perhaps discourages) the kinds of shaming and bullying that we seem prone to anyway. ~Joe

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