Today, most of us will squeeze our faces in disgust watching a mob on a street execute a petty thief with tyres, petrol and fire. The reaction would be swift and universal, "this is barbaric!"
On social media though, our reactions will be different. Not only will we most likely glee with delight at the sight of someone being 'dragged' or 'trolled', but we also would likely participate.
The debate with public shaming on the Internet or outrage on social media is how far a mob or a group of people who see themselves as the 'morally right' will go in addressing aberrant behaviour.
Take, for example, the gist that was the talk of multiple timelines on Christmas Day, 2018. A popular lady on Twitter was called out for allegedly selling sub-standard wigs to some of her clients.
Fair enough, if this allegation is true, then there was nothing wrong in addressing this bad behaviour, which ultimately aims to make people do better.
The mob did more than that with its 'righteous' outrage as it dragged her for slay photos, fashion sense and erroneously connected it with her line of business. Some details about her personal life also made it to Twitter, which had no correlation with the issue at hand.
It later morphed into an ugly personal attack which led her to deleting her Twitter account briefly.
Let me give you another example. In December 2018, a video of DMW act Peruzzi and a young lady in bed leaked online.
The video did the rounds, and quickly enough the personal details of the young woman in the video were revealed. The act which is known as doxxing revealed her details with malicious intent to shame her for her sexual lifestyle.
There was nothing wrong with the lady in the video being sexually involved with a popular music act. The only thing she was guilty of is recording him without his consent. This is what the mob should have focused on and not shame her for her lifestyle.
Mob justice is more or less the bullying of people and shaming them which has nothing to do with responding and correcting bad behaviour.
The mob parades itself as a gathering of the morally righteous which uses outrage as a battering ram to publicly shame targets who have come in their crosshairs. The mob feeds off outrage, a perceived slight, that fuels it in carrying out public shame on the Internet.
The problem with outrage is that if unchecked, it consumes everything. Outrage in the hands of a mob is usually a weapon of destruction and not a weapon of justice.
With most cases of public shaming in the digital era, there is no middle ground. The irate mob is the judge, jury and executioner. It gives no room for apologies, context and second chances. It is unforgiving, and this should be a cause for concern.
The funny thing about social media is that it shrinks us into pixels of our avatars. This is what the mob sees when it is outraged, a digital lampoon of whoever they want they want to publicly shame.
It pummels, drags, trolls and blasts its victim not caring about emotions and feelings. It does not care about remorse. All it knows is to cancel and delete your standing in the digital community.
In the heat of its outrage, members of the righteous mob, the cancellers of anyone who they find annoying, tend to be mental abusers. Excessive bashing can affect mental health as we must have seen with the lady caught up in the wig drama.
Public correction, not public shaming should be the answer. We shouldn't be silent in correcting wrong behaviour but we shouldn't ridicule or shame. It serves no purpose other than to leave people vulnerable to malicious attacks from people with their own shortcomings.
Cancel culture and Internet shaming has cost people their jobs, livelihood and reputation. A digital stain is harder to wipe off than a verbal insult. People who have been victims of the mob find it hard to get back to their normal lives online.
The conversation should be how can we make erring people behave better and realize their makes and not destroy who they are. Public shaming in the digital age is similar to jungle justice.
If it is wrong to kill suspected criminals instead of allowing justice prevail while leaving room for reform, it is also wrong when a mob does the same on a social platform.
There are exceptions though. Death sentences are reserved for criminals who have committed heinous crimes, public shaming should also be reserved for individuals who have shown no remorse for their distateful acts over time.
Unfortunatly, most of the people the righteous mob have shamed did not warrant the pariah treatment or total obliteration.
It's time we do away with public shaming on the Internet.