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.