COLUMN: The disturbing move to public shaming

Instead of simply calling someone with knowledge of the changes and asking questions, it was much easier to post a long rant on Facebook.

I enjoy social media – particularly Facebook.

I still remember getting my first invite to join from a friend in Calgary.

Back then, it was an easy way for far flung friends to find each other and stay in touch.

While much of that original purpose remains, Facebook has developed into something else much more sinister.

When I moved into my new position at the Summerland Review, I joined a couple of Summerland-specific Facebook groups.

While for the most part, they are a good resource for local comment or photos, one group has been turned into a place to publicly shame a local organization.

Recently the Summerland Museum has been undergoing some changes.

As is the case with all change, there are some that disagree. I am not here to pass judgement one way or the other.

My comment relates to the way in which the changes were questioned and discussed on social media. Instead of simply calling someone with knowledge of the changes and asking questions, it was much easier to post a long rant on Facebook.

That seems to be the norm nowadays.

The minute we don’t like the food at a restaurant, the service at a retail store, or the person in front of us in traffic, we hit Facebook to post a public shaming.

The problem with the majority of these kinds of posts is they lack perspective and often lend them themselves to highly inflammatory comments and conspiracy theories.

Most of the discussion is spent attacking the character of individuals and organizations and much of what is written has no basis in fact.

It is like a feeding frenzy and once there is blood in the water, everyone piles on.

What is concerning is that even in the face of facts, the frenzy continues.

There are those that find this upsetting to read on their Facebook newsfeed but they are afraid to try and stop it lest they get attacked with the same vigour.

It really is bullying in its purest form.

In the case of the museum, somewhere in the multitude of rabid conjecture, there might have been legitimate concerns.

They get lost when they are surrounded by unfounded attacks and rumour.

These kinds of public shaming posts aren’t slowing down and are becoming the first reaction when someone takes offence. It doesn’t bode well for our society because it removes respectful dialogue from the equation.

Instead of actually speaking to a person that can solve your problem or answer your question, we retreat to our den to construct a cleverly written declaration of war.

I foresee a future where no one can problem solve because we have lost the ability to express our point of view without including a blue screen and a personal attack.

I know there will be a few that read this column and will immediately feel the urge to open Facebook. Resist that urge.

Write me a letter or pick up the phone and call me.

Our society will be better for it.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.

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