The Shame Game


Shame Blame Bullying - Free image on Pixabay

Okay, peeps, this needs to stop. This morning on Facebook, I saw the happy post of a friend announcing that she has an appointment with her hair stylist this weekend. Certainly unruly locks, uncovered gray, and three-inch roots are small annoyances in comparison to the problems that many are facing today. They might even qualify for the dreaded hashtag label #firstworldproblems.

Most of the comments were along the lines of “congratulations” or from those in still-locked-down jurisdictions, friendly expressions of light-hearted envy.

But there amongst the responses was one so-called “friend” who said: “I can’t believe you would risk your life and your family’s lives just to look pretty.” Way to go, Negative Nellie. Let’s turn a happy moment into an opportunity to chastise and an attempt to create fear and guilt for engaging in an everyday, routine, legal activity.


Sadly, this wasn’t an isolated incident. And those on my “side” of the lockdown debate (including myself) aren’t innocent of this tactic, either. I’ve also seen — and thought if not written — similar replies to those who advocate continued stay-at-home orders. “How can you just willingly give up your constitutional rights because of a virus?”

Of course, it’s every individual’s constitutional right to voluntarily give up his/her constitutional rights if s/he so chooses. It’s only when you start trying to make me give up mine that I should criticize or protest.

There are a lot of memes floating around out there, the purpose of which is to shame people into wearing masks or staying home, or on the other side to make people feel that they’re cowards or unAmerican for wanting to isolate longer.

That’s getting us nowhere. It’s making us more divided than ever (no small feat considering how politically polarized the nation already was before this came along). Shaming people doesn’t win hearts and souls and it rarely even changes behavior.

Yes, I know the thought of getting sick and dying of COVID is terrifying to many of you. Yes, I know the thought of having every aspect of your life and health controlled by Big Brother is terrifying to many of you (us). Ridiculing each others’ fears because they’re different from our own won’t make ours any less frightening, though.

Getting through this is going to require some cooperation and understanding. You have every right to get angry if someone wants to force you back out into the world before you’re ready (although you must also be willing to accept the consequences – financial and otherwise – of not going back). And you have every right to get angry if someone wants to keep you locked in your home when the statistics don’t support it (although you must be willing to accept the risk to your health of venturing back into the routine of normal life).

But you don’t have the moral right to get angry at someone else’s personal choices or to berate them for making those choices for themselves. Let’s quit blaming and shaming and start taking responsibility for ourselves and letting everybody else do the same.


About debshinder

Technology analyst and author, specializing in enterprise security. Author of or contributor to over 25 books, including "Scene of the Cybercrime." Fourteen-year Microsoft MVP, married to Microsoft FTE Tom Shinder, and proud mom of two wonderful grown-up human children and three amazing Japanese Chin pups. In my spare time, I love to travel - especially on cruise ships - and write about my grand adventures.
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