The shame or lack of shame in social media

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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In the modern ethics of today’s world, self-promoting publicity is acceptable and the notion of privacy and the line of discretion between what is private and what is public is fast disappearing.

Gone are the days when a photograph of one’s self was shared in the tight confines of a family and a few close friends. Today the ‘selfie’ culture is well-established. These self-portrait photographs, taken with a digital camera or cellular phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick are often shared on social networking services such as
Facebook, Instagram and
Twitter. People can be taping, recording and transmitting others without their knowledge or consent, live or delayed.

The availability and use of digital and communications technology has changed cultures and erased traditional ethics, replacing it with an unfettered freedom of information baring national security data, classified or confidential information, intellectual property rights and personal data, including medical records.

The indiscriminate dissemination of personal information has eroded the efficacy of shame as a sanction to prevent or punish those whose conduct is offensive to or outside accepted norms of a society.

Vulgarity is a new and increasingly used form of self-promoting publicity.

It was once the preserve of entertainers aimed at an adoring fan base which accepts any kind of conduct by their idols. It was accepted that along with the talent of entertainers came abnormal behaviour that was tolerable because of their artistry. Among the fraternity of entertainers the dictum is ‘any publicity is good publicity’.

In today’s overload of information the only items that get noticed are those that can forcibly grab consumers’ attention as they flip across megabytes of information in the form of sound bytes and one-liners.

In such an environment, it is often the outrageous that gets attention. Vulgarity is one form of the outrageous and it knows no bounds. In the minds of an increasing number of people seeking self-promoting publicity ‘if it is to go viral it has to be vulgar’.

Unfortunately, a lack of decorum and absence of restraint has permeated politics across the world, aided by social media. We know that narcissism and immodesty make some politicians send out photos of themselves in questionable situations. This shows poor judgement and lack of taste.

Mr Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, has introduced vulgarity as self-promoting publicity and it seems to be working as reflected in his dominance in the polls.

Not to be outdone in Jamaica, we regrettably have Mr Everald Warmington, who seems incapable of even basic civility and who makes Mr Chris Gayle looks tactful. Opprobrium has done him no harm but has reinforced his visibility and notoriety free of any restraining guidance from the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party.

Just before that we had the vulgar tracing match between the People’s National Party’s Mr Damion Crawford and no less than the mayor of Kingston on social media.

Vulgarity as self-promoting publicity in politics is unacceptable because it brings into disrepute politics and politicians and we urge the public to repudiate this type of conduct whatever the source.

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