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Is Shaming Others Ever the Answer?

I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter. I find it to a great way to connect with other mental healt
Is Shaming Others Ever the Answer?
By Jordan Brown • Issue #78 • View online
I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter.
I find it to a great way to connect with other mental health advocates.
At the same time, it’s also a platform know for a certain amount of hate-spewing.
It’s not as common in the mental health community as it is in the political community.
But it’s still there.
There are people who have experienced unimaginable pain and trauma in this world.
And I realize that, when a person makes a comment, what they say is often more a reflection of who they are than what they are responding to.
But still, when shaming is the subject of a person’s comment, is it ever the answer?

Talking About Emotional Abuse
I’m going to put myself out there and argue that emotional abuse can be much more damaging in the long-term than physical abuse.
Physical abuse is absolutely awful. I will never argue that either type of abuse is OK. Abuse is abuse, and I wish the world had absolutely none of it.
Still, emotional abuse has a way of staying with a person that I think is different from the effects of physical trauma.
There are lots of people who would agree with me. But if you look at what happens online, actions don’t always back up people’s words.
Online, it seems to be totally acceptable to hurl insults at the ones with whom a person disagrees. I think part of it is a false bravery that comes from knowing there are friends online that will quickly rush to a person’s defense if something goes wrong.
But at the core of emotional attacks and shaming behavior is a deep, deep hurt.
It’s healing this deep hurt that needs to happen–not more of the same type of thing.
What Happens When We Shame
When we shame another person, whether it’s by calling them out online or in person, we add more of the same pain to the world. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people.” What it means that it takes a certain amount of self-hatred to feel the need to project it onto others. People who are hurting don’t want to feel that way, so they often try to push the pain on to others.
The problem with this approach is that it never actually does anything to heal the initial pain; it just spreads it around and makes it stronger for both sides. So instead of one person reeling in their pain, there are now two or more people who are feeling hurt.
What's the Solution?
There’s no easy solution. But I think it starts with a personal acknowledgment of pain.
Making sweeping changes always starts with personal awareness. Once one person becomes aware of the damage that emotional abuse can inflict on another, it’s possible to pass this teaching on to others.
Dig deep. Really, truly think about whether shoving pain on to other people through shaming behavior–or other detrimental actions–has ever made the situation better.
When I think about it, I know that it hasn’t.
I know I won’t be as popular online if I don’t join in at making fun of the ones who are the subjects of public scorn.
But I’ll have something greater.
I’ll hold on to myself. I’ll develop my own way of thinking.
At the end of the day, that’s what the world needs most–individuals wrestling with life’s tough questions for themselves, free from the massive influence of public opinion.
Today’s newsletter was a little different. I don’t often choose social commentary as my topic, although all writing is social commentary in a way. Let me know what you thought of this. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I hope you finish the weekend strong,

Jordan
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