This might be the most unpopular post I write this year, but I don’t care. Can we please stop socially shaming Hamlet Au, or anyone else for that matter? Please? I’ve personally had enough of it.
I’m not going to quote the attacks made in several blog comments. I’m not going to post screenshots of tweets for illustration purposes. I’m not even going to link to the several blog posts attacking him that I’ve read, and seen reblogged..
I am sure I’m not alone in seeing Hamlet’s name dragged through the mud since he published the blog post that got so many people upset.
If you’re doing this, you know who you are, and you don’t need me to publicly judge you.
I won’t do it, because I choose not to add fuel to the fire. I choose not to shame.
Do I agree with the views he expressed in the post that sparked the furore? No, I don’t. Do I think he might have phrased things better or taken a different perspective? Yes, I do. Do I think he should do things differently in the future? I’d like that, but that’s up to him.
With all that said, whatever my personal feelings are on the matter, I’m not about to socially shame him. Not here on this blog. Not on my social media. Not even socially, when the subject arises, as it has several times over the past 5 days.
Because he’s a person. Because he is a fellow human being. Because he has feelings. Because he has faults. Because he makes mistakes and errors in judgement.
As we all do.
Like him or loathe him, Hamlet Au is not our digital punching bag whom we can just use to vent our frustrations in public, legitimate or otherwise.
Hamlet Au, like all of us, is more than the sum of his worst mistakes.
I get why people do it. If someone does something you feel is deplorable, you might ignore it for a while. If it happens again, you might speak out against it privately. When you have had as much as you can stand, you might even comment, get on social media, or write a blog post, and attack the person who did it. When you’re really, really at the boiling point, you might even do what you can to hurt the person – financially, socially, or in some other way – in the hopes that it will make a positive change in the world.
I get it: You get angry. You are human, too.
As a side-effect, you might get a lot of support. People will agree with you. They’ll commend you for your bravery and your willingness to ‘speak the truth’. They’ll add fuel to the fire as they pile on the shame, sharing their pet grievances, stirring the pot at a fever pitch. It’s all a bit glorious, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t. It doesn’t change things. It doesn’t add to the world. It doesn’t make you a better person.
Yes, there are exceptions. Racists and paedophiles come to mind. Rapists, are a legitimate target. Wife beaters, they’re surely fair game. Politicians who lie to us, business executives that wreck our planet or poison our children, tobacco and junk food lobbyists – yep, line them up too. Ready, aim, fire!
But as a thought exercise, let’s say you’re right:
- Hamlet Au took issue with a positive article about Second Life he felt didn’t tell the story
- Hamlet Au says Second Life is dying
- Hamlet Au confuses Adult regions with pornography and extreme violence
- Hamlet Au writes blog articles and post titles for click-bait
- Hamlet Au only supports Second Life when it aligns with his advertisers interests
Even if all of that is true, can we get a little perspective?
None of the things, true or false, deserve 5 days of continuous public shaming. None of these things legitimise ad hominem attacks. None of these things make it ok to cast doubt on a person’s character or their personal attributes as a way to discredit his thoughts, ideas or argument.
It’s not right. And it’s already more than enough. News flash: you are not the moral police. Please stop, and start catching someone doing something right.
You know who handled this right? Drax and Jo. They invited Hamlet to come on their podcast. They had a civilised discussion with him on the topic. In the end, they agreed to disagree.
That’s how you deal with things you don’t like. Stop bashing what you hate. Seek first to understand. Disagree respectfully. Make a logical counter argument. Then, promote what you love.
Here’s another way: If you don’t agree with the way something is represented, or with a particular news outlet’s approach to what you care about, you can either bash it, or you can get involved. Pick up the megaphone and add to the conversation by addressing the issue, not the person.
And that’s what I did. As this storm in a teacup has been brewing, I approached Hamlet to be a regular guest columnist for New World Notes. My proposal to him is that I help show what you actually do, what you want, and how you really think and feel. How? By asking you, and reporting on what you tell me.
I start next month.