I guess there's a balance, though. If I had questionable character now perhaps it would be relevant to include past information. And also, what's the cutoff? Five years? Ten? At what point do we say "that's recent enough to be a reflection on you?" I don't know.
I do know we seem to be reaching back ever-further to find ways to smear people we don't like. It's a constant drive to feel outraged about something. As if there isn't enough bad stuff going on already...
Bit of a tangent, I remember reading a comment regarding old art's propensity towards showing past as nearly the same as present. Take medieval christian paintings - while depicting scenes from era way past and cultures far removed, they were typically depicted with then-current clothing, equipment, housing, etc. It's only during renaissance (hopefully not mixing that one up?) that people commonly understood past & other societies were significantly different from the present, with different customs, culture, technology, etc. Accompanying the awareness was ongoing research into how the past actually was; what were the possibilities and limitations; what was the culture and what drove people to certain choices, however misguided they may seem in the hindsight.
Through your comment I realize we are in process of losing the ability to clearly delineate the past, and to hold it as imperfect, but necessary, stepping stones to the present day. And perhaps also to run effective, objective research into the past, without feeling the urge to nudge it into direction of a preferred narrative.
You suggest we don't have true post-modernism, because it is not critical enough of the own operating moral framework. I counter that with: post-modernism is essentially only 'tried and tested' anti-modernism, but it doesn't come along as religious outrage like in the old times, but dressed in the form of moral outrage machines, that can be triggered by any form of non-conformist behaviour in any possible framework -- the frameworks have become interchangable, the operational mechanisms work like they always have.
It's not just that the border of fact and fiction has been dissolved. The question is not even considered relevant, because the statement isn't considered to be about truth in the first place.
"Everything can be interpreted in any possible framework" only in the sense that they will interpret your statement in the framework that makes it look the worst. Why will they do so? Because their interpretation of your statement is not about finding truth, but about their assertion of power. That is, these people are operating consistent with their philosophy.
where do you put your pent up hate without being hurtful? you attack the people who are perceived as hurtful first
Of course, that seems absurd. But comedians are fired for jokes they made years ago when they come to light. Was the joke bad? Probably. By today's standards and the standards that we hold comedians to. But back then times were different and the joke may have been more culturally acceptable. Moreso they have refined their style and grown. As you said, they've changed.
It's incredibly frustrating because the shame culture only exists to eat itself alive. You could be a picture perfect person one day and the next be demonized by something you don't even remember doing from years ago.
Could you give an example of this?
Awsome. Here's all of them. Sincerely, Internet
Before social media, someone might smear, criticize or judge you for prank calls you made 20 years ago. Some wouldn't. It's not court.
The difference between then and now is implications. The world we're in now can take those criticisms and amplify them, making them the central theme if your public persona. It can becone thing people know about you first.
In an important sense prank calls aren't a good example. Most things that get the amplified shame treatment are not individual example of wrongdoing. They're individual examples that can (rightly or wrongly) be used as examples or symbols of a political injustice of some sort, as they see it.
I really don't think we can sort the rights and wrongs of this stuff, make it fair or consistent. What we need to do is lower the stakes, if we can.
This sort of thing used to be a staple of small-town life; everyone knew everything that you ever did and you could be defined by a childhood incident. The only way out of it was to leave. Now we have made the world smaller.
A lot of things today are intensely emotional (angry, indignant, scandalized) events over non legible answers. The only conclusion I have so far is: this decade is akin to a mass scale depression where anything is a source of madness.
I see your point, but surely you see how this is a bit self-serving, that you'd give yourself a pass.
I'm not saying I necessarily agree with holding people to long-ago behavior, but the argument is that your actions had consequences on other people, often people who didn't have a voice at that time. It's easy for the white person who said/did racist things in their past to say it was a long time ago and they've changed so what's the big deal (note: not accusing you of this, just an example) whereas the black people on the receiving end might see it differently.
When I was growing up it was very common and acceptable to use f*g/other gay slurs as a normal part of conversation. I could say that it didn't mean anything and was just how we talked, but then again I'm not gay and didn't have to live with it.
Shaming people for things they did in the past is particularly important for reinforcing changes in norms. There are a lot of behaviors that were accepted 30 years ago that are not okay now. We shame people for engaging in that conduct not because it makes sense to hold people to behavioral norms that didn't exist at the time they engaged in the conduct, but to reinforce those norms in the present.
(example: one of the kids of the parents accused in the college admission scandal tweeted about "studying is hard" or something to that effect and it came into my twitter feed and everyone was having a laugh)
If you decide that people NOW shouldn't be shamed for behavior 20-30 years ago, why even bother shaming? I know I'll be different in 20-30 years in the future, so maybe don't shame me (as much) in the present, as long as the actions aren't too heinous. Maybe I don't end up changing, in which case, more shaming would seem 'normal', but the advantage there is that someone has to remember to come check on me. I could gamble that there's a bigger outrage and the internet mob moves onto something else.
The upside of this is that the internet is learning how many people are really bad people. Part of the outrage culture comes from that. Most of these details were hidden in an information-deprived world, and importantly, lack of searching and indexing to actually find all of it.
Maybe it will get so bad that new identities become a much bigger industry and that becomes a social norm. A new identity and probably a new home country is probably the best short-term solution today for this if anyone feels unjustly shamed by society.
> I know I'll be different in 20-30 years in the future,
Psychologist Wendell Johnson, pointed out that we create many problems for ourselves by using Static Language to express or
capture a reality that is ever changing -
“Our language is an imperfect instrument created by ancient and ignorant men. It is an animistic language that invites us to talk about stability and constants, good and bad, right and wrong, about similarities and normals and kinds,
about simple problems, and final solutions.
Yet the world we try to symbolize with this language is a world of process, change, differences, dimensions, functions, relationships, growths, interactions, developing, learning, coping, complexity. And the mismatch of our ever-changing world and our relatively
static language forms is part of our problem.”
"really bad people" is an example of that static constraint on language. People are not static but ever changing (which all our marketers are very conscious off which is why we get an iphone 4,5,6,7 etc not just an iphone).
To get people to accept that reality is dynamic, social media and news media have to reflect on their signaling. Signals like clicks/views/likes/retweets/upvotes all reinforce static world views.
Are people actually outraged or do they pretend to be outraged because it gets other's attention to their issue? And doesn't that take attention away from issues that are less... click-baity?
Essentially, isn't this another negative outgrowth of the attention economy?
If they supported apartheid for fear of communism then you certainly are right to question their moral and practical judgment (even accepting the fear the action is counterproductively shoving the oppressed to the arms of the enemy). If they made racist jokes but moved on and supported civil rights for all let it lie.
It brought to mind one thing from a parent referring to someone as being a radical liberal for supporting gay marriage in the 1980s. Now their view is throughly vindicated - visionary not radical is the appropriate term.
It's as if rather than fining people for littering, there's no fine and no enforcement, but every now and again someone gets attacked by anti-littering terrorists.
Now, "placate the Internet mob" is a bit disingenuous here. What's the Internet mob going to do if not placated? Tweet more? Oh no. They don't have any real power. Let's take Roseanne as an example. An Internet mob didn't take her show off the air. ABC execs did. You can blame tweets all you want, but it was ultimately up to ABC. Did they do it because of the tweets? Were they looking for one last straw? They have to answer to that. Did this badly damage Roseanne's career? Listen to Joe Rogan talk to Roseanne about this. He's trying his hardest to lead her into blaming that "Internet mob" for badly damaging her career, but all she says is, "I've got a new tour already lined up for 2019 and I've been spending more time in Hawaii with my son". Does that sound so bad?
Kevin Hart has 3 movies coming out this year. Louis CK has been performing at clubs. Aziz Ansari is on tour. It's hard to find someone who was badly damaged by an Internet mob...
To clarify my terms, "censure" talks about behaviors: "That is not an okay thing to do," versus shame's, "You are 'bad' for having done the thing."
Shame is just toxic. Telling people they're defective in an effort to make them improve is stupidly counterproductive.
It gets tricky when we have some kind of identity invested in the thing we're doing. It becomes hard to experience censure and not feel shamed.
Censure: "You shouldn't have done that."
Shaming: "You shouldn't have done that. Shame on you."
The point is the same. If an action is deservedly shameful, then so be it.
Shame that brings positive change is not a bad thing; it is a natural social consequence. The problem is lack of forgiveness even after repentance. How can one's debt to society be paid when convicted by the court of public opinion, prosecuted by the NYT? The exile is indefinite.
One of the problems in our society now is shamelessness, i.e. the lack of social consequences for some actions encourages people to take them. Compounding that is the media, which now acts as self-appointed arbiters of who should be ashamed, when, and why, depending on a person's current favor with the politically powerful. Displease the wrong people, and words uttered a dozen years ago without complaint are suddenly cause for outrage, according to them. Meanwhile, others who said much worse things yesterday are lauded. It's all a big farce.
Democracy dies in darkness, all right--the darkness of the evil of the contemporary press.
The point is different because censure (as we're using it here) judges the action but shaming judges the person.
Censure: "That thing that you did was bad."
Shaming: "You are a bad person for doing that thing."
Besides that, even if one thinks that shaming does "judge the person," that's not necessarily bad, either, because rightful shame can lead to changed behaviors, which is good for the person and for society as a whole. However, this only works as long as forgiveness is available to those who change.
The problem our society currently has is that forgiveness is often denied, even after repentance. The judgments of the court of public opinion are essentially permanent, which is not healthy. And it's doubly bad when relatively old words and actions can be cited as a reason for judgment and outrage today.
If anything, repentance leads to more and longer lasting stigma. The repentant person will most likely get excluded from the polite society - which usually means from any high-profile business and social setting.
Meanwhile standing staunchly by one's actions (or strong denial) - even better if coupled with some pushback - tends to create a counter-narrative, with its own team of supporters.
Not saying this is right or wrong, merely that showing weakness in the face of metaphorically bloodthirsty crowd tends to lead to worse results than standing up for oneself.
The only real way to solve this, imo is to start punishing these publications by simply no longer engaging with them or supporting them. Even good publications (I'm thinking Wired, which generally is good, but lately has published some absurd things.) Until then, or until the ad business model changes...this will continue.
We should be looking at alternative business strategies for media, so they aren't dependent on the absurd. That extends to cable news as well. Fox, CNN, MSNBC have all turned into clown shows...and what anyone that has been on these programs or done media training will tell you...the producers often book people simply for being absurd. Merit it no longer what matters, it's all about engagement to drive ad revenues.
Think of all the things that were done to women, minorities, etc throughout history, and how difficult it's been for them to have a voice before the internet. Imagine if the black community in the 1950s-60s had smartphones and Twitter. Would the newspapers of the time be decrying the "shame" mobs as truth was inevitably spoken to power?
Yes, categorizing someone as 'bad' or 'defective' in an effort to induce change is counterproductive, as another commenter said. So too, actions from 10-20+ years may not be relevant.
But when historically oppressed people get a national platform, if you aren't one of the oppressed, you may not like what they have to say.
They absolutely did. This was what MLK's famous complaint about the "white moderate" was about in Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
What's new is its weaponization as a tool for political control in the West.
My historical point of comparison is the events leading up to the various religious wars. The protestant reformation unleashed historical and cultural forces in the same way the present slow motion destruction of the last 100 years of political consensus.
Social pressure has it's place in society, as with all things the internet takes everything about the human social experience and turns the dial to 11. I think we are only just coming to grips with what actually should be shamed on the internet. As with all things, we will reach an equilibrium. You don't kick someone out of the tribe for a simple mistake that has a slim chance of happening again if the proper amount of social pressure is applied.