You are what you ‘like’ – why we need to stop engaging with social media shaming

Social media shaming culture
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Social media shaming

I’m sure, on more than one occasion, you’ve seen a post pop up on your Twitter feed mocking the content of a fellow blogger. Whether it’s someone venting about photoshopped skies, or moaning about every popular Instagram feed looking the same, the complaints (however justified they may originally be) often spiral into something far nastier, with everyone jumping on the ‘liking’ and subtweeting bandwagon at the expense of whoever is unfortunate enough to be the subject of the original post.

While I do think it’s good that we question the content created, shared, and popularised on platforms like Instagram, I more often than not feel that instead of a healthy debate about the impacts of social media and how we can make our feeds more enjoyable we end up with a seemingly endless stream of comments dragging the content creator at the centre of the criticism. 

Recently, I’ve been surprised and disappointed by the types of people who join in with social media shaming. I can understand people whose lives are far removed from social media mocking it (they play no role in the industry, and it’s easy to laugh at something you don’t understand) but I don’t understand why those from within the community, those who benefit from the support of fellow bloggers, happily engage with shaming content. Yes, some people’s content isn’t going to appeal to you, but it appeals to that person’s audience and I think it’s important we draw a firm line between discussing and highlighting the issues within our community and just outright revelling in someone else’s misery.

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Setting an example within the blogging industry

The number of us who rely on blogging (and social media) for income is rapidly expanding, and with this expansion is scepticism about the longevity of the industry, and the value of what we provide. When my timeline is full of shady subtweets, cry laughing emojis in response to posts mocking others and even retweets of the original shaming post I really do despair. How can we ever expect to be taken seriously if we treat our work environment as a cesspit of gossip?!

While I’m more than happy to get stuck into a debate about the industry, and sponsored content, I won’t ever engage with content that tears the community down. We may not all agree, and we may even dislike the content others create, but as long as we’re not spreading harmful messages via our content I think it’s vital we have some solidarity online, and don’t feed into viral content that mocks others. 

It’s also important to remember that ‘liking’ a tweet isn’t harmless, in fact, tweets that we’ve liked are shown to those who follow us and they work as an endorsement from us. So before you like that shady tweet that has you giggling, think to yourself ‘is it something I would tweet myself?’ and, more importantly, ‘how would the person being talked about feel if I said it to them?’. In fact, as a general rule, I think it’s important we consider the latter question when it comes to anything we post or engage with online.

Consider the impact of what you’re engaging with, and the messages you are helping to spread – not doing so can make social media a toxic place. 

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