There have been an insane amount of people sharing a video of young women taking selfies during a baseball game. The commentators are doing what commentators do, which is tease and poke fun, but with a bit of extra poison, saying “This is parenting in 2015” and other such things.
It’s been shared by one page in particular, where the top comment is “I hate my generation so much.”
A few things about this video:
1. The women were taking selfies because the entire stadium had been asked to take selfies, as you can see in the image below:
2. There is a part of the video you don’t see in which the announcers themselves ask people to take photos of themselves and send them in. This was cut out of the one that was spread on Facebook.
3. In other words, they were duped, and then used as a way to mock “our generation” and particularly women (who, by the way, have a history of being singled out for not actually being sports fans, but just doing it for guys, etc).
But let’s put all that aside for a second. Let’s say NONE of that matters (which, of course, it does).
I’ve seen people I like, people I respect, and people I admire, share this video with what comes close to a virtual head shake (smh, right?).
It’s now been shared by hundreds of thousands, seen by tens of millions.
And no one seems to see a problem with this. They see no problem sharing something in which individuals are singled out for behavior they may or may not disagree with and shamed on an almost unimaginable level.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be one of those women right now. I went to their college, and I imagine myself walking down that campus in their shoes and just cringe in pain.
Our society has officially sanctioned public shaming as something completely accepted.
Nevermind that yesterday there was also a shooting in Oregon, or that 2 parents in Israel were murdered in front of their children, or that there are countless refugees pouring out Syria. None of those things were shared as much as this video.
In other words, not only has public shaming become an acceptable practice, but empathy takes a nosedive in the face of that shaming. While serious, unimaginable things are happening to innocent people by truly evil people, we have chosen to shame perfectly innocent young women who maybe were acting slightly self-centered (which, of course, we know they weren’t because they were asked to take selfies).
So, whether they were asked to or not, we decide that the sign that our generation is doomed is because of some young women taking selfies.
Let me propose a thought:
If our generation is doomed, it won’t have anything to do with selfies. It will have to do with shaming becoming a ritualized practice, and empathy decreasing (plenty of studies actually make this very case).
If our generation is doomed, it’s because we’ve become a world in which we don’t worry about the wellbeing of people who have done something almost unimaginably innocuous subject to the scrutiny of tens of millions (imagine, further if one of these people suffers from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental health issue), and spend perhaps moments, if that, worrying about those suffering in the world, or even close to us (as the empathy studies have shown).
Maybe it’s time we looked at the real causes of society’s problems. Maybe it’s time we stopped for one moment before sharing something on social media, and wondered what our impact might be. Maybe it’s time we became aware of our own sensitivities and why we might feel more inclined to shame than to care.