Shaming and the modern Pillory

“We’ve given the word ‘mob’ a bad name”, says Dr Hibbert sadly in one of the Simpsons’ episodes. It’s knowing irony, because the type of mob in which he is participating – armed with pitchforks and burning stakes – is a throwback to medieval times and the worst of group-think and public shaming. We don’t have those angry mobs anymore, randomly imposing vigilante justice on their neighbours, and when we do, the police intervene.

But the human tendency for public shaming and victimisation goes on. We do that now – as we do many things – on social media. And when that victimization happens, it can be devastating for the individual involved, and totally out of proportion to their ‘crime’.

Continue reading »