Too Many Arseholes

Published January 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I can feel a bit of a rant coming on.  I’ve been feeling it building for awhile lately, noticing something happening and becoming more socially acceptable as more and more people get into things like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube etc.  And it sucks, so I think it’s time to speak up about it.

The thing that I find really, deeply offensive that a lot of people seem to think is ok, is this practice of photographing or video recording complete strangers, and then putting that image/footage up on the internet with criticism about their clothes, body, hair, etc.

I don’t know what goes through people’s heads when they think it’s ok to do this.  To snap a pic on their phone of someone who is wearing a very short skirt and post it to Twitter, to take pics of people in Walmart and send them to a blog that does nothing but ridicule complete strangers, to video some drunk stranger in a bar and post it to their YouTube.  To photograph a fat person or someone they consider ugly and post it saying “Look at this hideous person!”

Do they think the subject doesn’t know?  Quite often they do know.  And usually they’re too upset, horrified and embarrassed to say “Hey, fuck you douchebag!”  Or even if they don’t know this is being done to them, what happens when some friend or relative says “I saw a photo of you on the internet!”

Do the people who post these things even give a second of thought as to what happens to that photo as soon as it’s uploaded?  Or do they not give a shit at all?

Thing is, doing stuff like that is pure and simple douchebaggery.  Even if someone does have a really freaky outfit, or they’re dancing like a drunken fool – who are you to photograph/record them and post it to the internet for people to laugh at?  Have you never had a shit fashion moment?  Do you not have flaws about your body or looks?  Never made an idiot of yourself at a bar or a party?  How would you feel if someone posted pics or photos of you like this?

Thing is, I know what it feels like.  It happened to me.  I got on the train one morning to go to work, minding my own business, and there were a group of young guys, about 18-20 years of age.  One of them thought it would be REALLY funny to photograph the fat lady (me) and text it around to the other guys.  I knew he was doing this, but I was so embarrassed, mortified and hurt that I wasn’t able to say anything to them.  This was pre-confident, assertive me.  All I could do was try very, very hard not to cry while they made barking noises and looked at each others phones, knowing full well it was me they were texting around.

By the time I got to work I was a mess.  Sobbing my heart out.  I was lucky, my colleagues were super supportive, and one of my bosses at the time asked me lots of questions about what the guys were wearing, what they looked like.  For some reason, I remembered a logo on their shirts.  She Googled it, found the company and called them, demanding to speak to the manager.  She got him.  She told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted answers and that she wasn’t going to rest until someone was held responsible for this douchebag behaviour.  She was AWESOME.

The upshot was, the manager worked out who it was, put the guys on performance management and in his words “Tore them each a new arsehole.”

But not everyone is able to see anything being done about when it happens to them and they know it.  To this day, I don’t know if there are photographs of me still on people’s phones, still going around, or if they’re going to pop up on the internet.  It still makes me feel bad, and I’m a hell of a lot more self confident and assertive now than I was then.

I don’t care if you’re a woman doing it just to criticise someone’s fashion choices.  That’s no better than photographing someone you think is fat or ugly or any other reason – it’s all ridicule.  And it’s douchebag behaviour.

Maybe it’s because the paparazzi are so well ensconced in our culture now, that people think it’s ok to whip their camera phones out and photograph strangers.  You know what?  The paparazzi suck.  Even though they’re often stalking people who have chosen to live their lives in the public eye, they still suck for harassing those people, for stalking them and for making money off the negative stuff about those people.

But someone just photographing or filming a complete stranger on the street or in a shop, bar, or any other public place with the intent to post those pictures publicly and ridicule or criticise them is nothing short of a complete and utter arsehole.

Stop doing it.  Stop supporting it on websites and blogs that collate this kind of shit.  Stop being an arsehole.  You’ll thank me for the good karma later.

8 comments on “Too Many Arseholes

  • Yes! I have a few coworkers/friends etc…who love visiting sites like that because its “hilarious”. but I dont really think so. yeah sometimes I agree with the overall assessment, but I am profoundly disturbed by the audacity of turning that kind of judgmental entitlement into a public forum. I avoid those sites,

    I wish more people did.

    • One of my favourite blogs used to be a bad tattoo blog. It was a mix of stuff from Flickr and Photobucket, and people submitting their own tatts or tatts of friends. Which is awesome. Nothing wrong with sharing and having a laugh at the mistakes we all make in life. But then they started taking submissions of shots that were taken of strangers. Phone cam shots, sneaky shots around the place. And it no longer became fun. Because maybe, just maybe, the owners of those tattoos loved them. And didn’t want to be made fun of on the internet. I have a pretty dodgy tattoo myself, and I know it’s crap, but I love it and would hate someone to post a photo of it on a site like that without me knowing or volunteering it.

  • This is so right on so many levels. Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing or getting any better any time soon. The prevailing attitude is ‘Privacy is Dead’ and most people of a certain age really just CAN’T see the point. They’ve grown up with their FaceBook and Myspace pages filled with pictures and personal details that their parents would instinctively shrink away from disclosing to even their closest confidants. With this generation it’s all ‘Who cares? Nobody’s REALLY looking at it’ or ‘Why would anybody be that interested in MY life?’ Hmm, well, there’s school application boards, political / social associations or clubs you might be interested in joining, potential employers. Pretty much anybody you meet IRL who might want an inside track on your life and has your Name , Address & Phone. NOW their starting to get why privacy can be a good thing. Doesn’t mean their not willing to invade someone else’s though.

    The problem? PhonCams. Never in the history of the camera has there been more of them in public spaces -Hell, EVERYWHERE- with such consistency. Anybody with a Cellphone? Has a camera. EVERYBODY’S got cellphones. The upside is, things like the shootings and beatings at polling places during the recent election in Iran get harder to hide. Downside? Well. you get situations like the cellphone sniper who snapped the recent picture of a big guy sitting on an arm rest on a plane. It blazed it’s way across the net and ended up gracing the pages of national news pubs. It never even occurred to ANY of the people so eager to throw that picture up, how the gentleman IN the picture might feel about it. Privacy might well BE dead.

    In situations like that and the one you described that happened to you, about the only thing you CAN do-

    >>http://hollabacknyc.blogspot.com/<&lt;

    is shoot back.

    • I love my iPhone camera – it captures moments when I’m on the fly, gets me reminder pictures when I see something that my poor frazzled brain won’t remember, and let’s me document my life. And I would NEVER use it to humiliate or ridicule someone. Technology is never the problem, the people who use it always are. We need to be standing up and saying no to this kind of bullshit, and blaming the douchebags that do it, not the inanimate objects they use to do it.

  • I SO agree with you! Taking a picture of someone and posting it on the net simply to make fun of them is wrong, douchbaggy in the extreme, and I’m pretty sure illegal. I’ve seen that site with all the pics taken of people who shop at Walmart and it just makes me sad that others have to do things like this to get a laugh. 😦

    • I love a bit of lowbrow humour (bum jokes, ha!) but laughing at some unwitting person’s expense is just pathetic!

  • Agreed with Bilt4Cmfrt on the whole ‘ death of privacy’ thing. I’ve actually got into Flickr arguments with these types of people, and been told by the followers of the notorious Malingering that ‘there aint no law against it’ in reference to a surreptitiously-snapped pic of a fat eight-year old that had been posted for the amusement of her ‘fans’ and their schoolyard-humour / concern trolling commentary.

    My argument was that just because the First Amendment may permit it doesn’t make it morally right, not that this cut any ice with those normally all to quick to ascribe to ‘obesity’ a moral dimension. The result was the spamming of pictures of my now-wife with repulsive comments leading to me taking my entire stream down (the only remainders being on the Fat Brides group, which I believe was itself placed behind a privacy wall for similar reasons.

    But I’m also with sleepydumpling on the idea of those who would pervert technology and use it for ill, rather than the technology itself, being evil; indeed my own phonecam has been used to capture interesting signage, architecture, beautiful snowscapes and even some of the great memories of my wife and I out and about together that were then spammed by said ‘flickrphants’.

    And it’s not as though the manufacturers don’t try; one of the discussions I waded into was a discussion of methods of turning off or disabling the giveaway ‘click’ or similar noise on various models of phonecam, a noise that had obviously been added to prevent so-called’ candid’ use of the device to capture someone’s bad hair day / wardrobe malfunction / ‘unacceptable’ body without their knowledge.

    • Ugh, I can understand your disgust and frustration richie79. It’s just ugly behaviour, and deserves all the bad karma it’s going to get.

      For me it all boils down to one thing. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If I’m not willing to wear a behaviour done to me, then there is no way I’m going to do it myself. It’s simple really.

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