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Reblogged: Being Shamed on the Internet

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An overweight woman in an innocent moment at the gym became an object of laughter and derision on the internet. Her story — What it’s like to be laughed at on the Internet — is painful and heartbreaking and worth reading. Here’s a bit:

It’s not just the fat-bashing that hurts. Or the humiliation, the shaming, this last safe societal prejudice. All that is bad, of course. What really hurts, though, is how much the boys who took that photo of me “doing it wrong”—and the thousands of people who see it—will never know.

They’ll never know how experiences just like this began dividing me—early—from my body. That the taunts of “fatty” and “blubber” and “lardass” when I was 6 made me stand at my bedroom window and wonder if it was a long enough way down to the ground; that when the kids at lunch poked my stomach with pencils to see if I’d deflate, I honestly wished I would, with a long, satisfying “sssssss”; that by the time Ms. Gleby was leading my entire sixth grade Phys Ed class in laughing at me, I no longer had a body at all. I was a floating head, and I was determined to think of my physical form as a brick that I had to suffer the inconvenience of dragging around. My body wasn’t me. It was despicable. It was nothing.

The people who laugh at this picture won’t know that every jeer, every “mooooo,” and every “sorry, no fatties” made me more and more successful at being bodiless.

And they won’t know how scary it’s been to decide to maybe make a different choice.

They’ll never know what came before that treadmill-sitting moment: 80 minutes of aerobic exercise. They’ll never know how long it took me to feel worthy of motion, worthy of joining a gym, how long it took me to decide that moving actually felt good, and then the discovery that this was the way to reunite my floating head with the rest of me, to feel my body at its most basic, a biochemical machine that supports me. That’s what I am on a treadmill. That’s what bodies are. They are not appearance. They are purpose. It’s so hard—irrationally hard—to remember that. The world makes it hard to remember.

Hear, hear.

D68Ee4Wo15A

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It did not feel good, but I Googled.

I found nine—nine websites, including Facebook. Some don’t have comment threads, but a lot of them do. I shouldn’t have read the comments. But I did.

I believe I just identified the real problem here.

And it's not a "shaming", it's people making jokes...without ever trying to contact the person the jokes are about...let alone "shame" her.

Edited by Nicky
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And it's not a "shaming", it's people making jokes...without ever trying to contact the person the jokes are about...let alone "shame" her.

Shaming doesn't need to be direct, nor is shaming and making jokes mutually exclusive.

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Am I missing something? She admitted the picture was funny face value. The ruder the comments the less funny and more damning for the commenters' personal character. Why does she care what they think about her? Hm...:

"... my billions of whiny, oversensitive cells slough and reproduce like they just didn’t get the memo. And I wake up another day."

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I agree that the "shaming" aspect of the article was weak. It was far from cyber-bullying or anything of that sort.

 

I do however like her description of realizing that she and her body are integral. I have sensed the same thing as I got into running and shed 70 lb.

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Before you lost 70 pounds, how were you thinking about your body differently, as related to your person? I ask because I can't really imagine going through life without being aware of my own body. Am I misinterpreting?

Edited by JASKN
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I don't think the comments, no matter how insensitive, can be called even so much as rude. When you comment on a random funny picture on the Internet, it's a reasonable assumption to make that the people in the picture are not going to see your comments. This woman just went asearchin' for something to get upset over, because she needed fodder for her blog. No one set out to be rude to her (though I'm sure that changed once this article came out - now she will definitely be hounded about it, by people who DO set out to be mean, not just regular Facebook users who see a funny picture and comment on it).

 

One thing I will give you: those jokes are terribly lame.  But that's not a reason to stop making jokes. In fact it's a reason to make more. Practice makes perfect, after all.

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To even have taken pictures of this woman with the intent of posting them so that you and others can laugh at her is sick. Deriving happiness and a sense of superiority over others due to their corpulent stature is to let others determine your value. Physical humor is the lowest form, and when used to shame someone is despicable.

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Before you lost 70 pounds, how were you thinking about your body differently, as related to your person? I ask because I can't really imagine going through life without being aware of my own body. Am I misinterpreting?

As with any personal mental change that happens over time, it's difficult to nail down a description.

I can describe it more from how I feel now. It's not just the weight change, it's the fact that my body is part of me when it comes to maintenance and improvement. I've always sought to learn, think better, etc. I also play music when I can and consider myself an accomplished driver and pilot. My physical fitness now lies in that same realm of personal accomplishment which was previously limited to mental activities.

I think that previously I had a detachment brought on by evading thoughts about my body or the actions that let it get into terrible shape. I'm certainly no athlete, but I run 30-40 mi/week now, and when I look at my legs or feet, I have a sense of pride and ownership. Eating well also feeds into my personal pride.

I think there's a vicious cycle for many overweight people where disappointment with one's body leads to evasion/detachment, which then enables poor eating/lack of exercise. It's easier sometimes to pretend that "looks don't matter" or "it's what inside that counts" which supports the schism between mind and body. I suppose it may be like people who claim to be "bad at math," detach their math skills from the rest of their personality, and avoid actions which would improve the situation.

It's very difficult to communicate to someone who grew up with and maintained healthy habits what it feels like to shop for clothes, look in the mirror, or be in crowded situations where someone might bump into your flab. I think there are feelings and evasions that a healthy person may never experience, and so they have no reference.

A bit more rambling than I would've liked, but the short answer is I feel more integrated now and comfortable in my own skin.

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To even have taken pictures of this woman with the intent of posting them so that you and others can laugh at her is sick. Deriving happiness and a sense of superiority over others due to their corpulent stature is to let others determine your value. Physical humor is the lowest form, and when used to shame someone is despicable.

I think there is only one objective way to measure jokes: by how much they make people laugh. Rejecting jokes for any other reason is the definition of not having a sense of humor. 

 

And there was no shaming, no one ever even attempted to contact this woman. 

 

Oh yeah, and there's nothing wrong with taking a funny photo and posting it, either. If you put yourself in a funny situation in public, expect to be laughed at...better yet, learn to laugh at yourself.

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Oh yeah, and there's nothing wrong with taking a funny photo and posting it, either. If you put yourself in a funny situation in public, expect to be laughed at...better yet, learn to laugh at yourself.

I can't tell if you are seriously unaware that some people say jokes with malicious intent. Some people say things in order to shame the very idea of a person, and use a joke to do that.

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I can't tell if you are seriously unaware that some people say jokes with malicious intent. Some people say things in order to shame the very idea of a person, and use a joke to do that.

I'm aware that some people can't tell the difference between jokes and insults. You're obviously one of them.

 

When you insult someone, that's not a joke. When you tell a joke, that's not an insult. But telling the difference requires a sense of humor. If you had it, you'd know why a picture of a fat person watching TV while sitting on gym equipment is funny rather than an attempt to shame the very idea of babble babble humorless babble...

Edited by Nicky
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I'm aware that some people can't tell the difference between jokes and insults. You're obviously one of them.

It's things like that points out that you're making claims about communication which you're bad at. I mean, it indicates a lack of awareness of how communication works, so needlessly harsh seems appropriate. It's just plain strange that you're insulting me here (against the forum rules, don't do that, thanks). People use jokes to shame. Insult jokes are a thing. Insult jokes with malicious intent is shaming because shaming involves diminishing the value of a person - whether or not it is deserved. It's not simply for a joke, it's also rejecting a person socially. Insult jokes sometimes are a thing to enjoy sometimes, if it's not malicious.

If you truly can't tell that these jokes here are intended to harm a person, well, of course they're benign insult jokes and she should get a sense of humor. Sorry, but no. The girl can tell its not just for fun, I can tell, aleph can tell, I can tell. True, Jake is saying it's not the worst thing here, but not that it's okay. Jaskn only seems to object to the girl caring what others say, and I agree. But are the insulters doing this with malicious intent? Of course!

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I think Nicky's point is that it's impossible to "shame" someone without making it personal. No one on the internet knows the woman, nor tried to find her and know her. It wouldn't even have been possible if they'd tried. Without knowing her personal circumstances, not enough is known about her to shame her, even if you wanted to. Maybe you could ignorantly lump every fat person into the exact same context and try to condemn that context, but that wouldn't be shaming, because it wouldn't be specific to one person, and it would be false anyway, since no context is exactly the same.

The picture at face value is funny, in the most easily-interpreted context -- woman is so not into exercise that she's sitting in a chair on a treadmill. That's funny to me, anyway! If I knew the lady, maybe that wouldn't be funny, I don't know. But I don't need to nor do I want to know the lady. Who cares! I have my life, she has hers, we share nothing, not even the picture, since the context I've made up for it to laugh at could be completely false for all I know.

I'd guess that what you call joke-shaming with malicious intent, Nicky would call only an insult, or at least an attempt at an insult if no context is known.

Edit: Also, it's hard not to interpret you thinking that saying, "You have no sense of humor" is an insult, as a further example of said lack of humor! "You have no sense of humor" is a flat judgement when stated plainly. It could be intended as an insult, but in my experience it's usually used as an expression of annoyance at someone taking something too seriously.

Edited by JASKN
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The point is that it's making someone a target of maliciousness, which is by nature shaming what a person is. It's already personal, and the thing about shaming is that it's usually petty collectivism, i.e. acquiring value (social comraderie and humor) through disvalue (diminishing a person maliciously and destructively). Call it what you want, it's still bad. It's unusual to say that's not shaming, though. It gives a person a bad image for really no good reason. It gets other people to think less of them. It's shaming as far as I can tell. Read Aleph's post, that's my point.
 

"You have no sense of humor" is a flat judgement when stated plainly.


My point is that words mean more than a word-for-word literal interpretation. That's not even the line I was referencing. Literally speaking? Yeah, nothing bad about the OP topic. But these people -intended- things beyond a simple laugh. Likewise, I recognize that Nicky, with his wording, did more than state a fact. Even the fact they tell such bad quality jokes indicates it is intended as shaming. Not the only way to tell, but it helps.

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Somebody put a chair on top of a treadmill to sit in and watch TV. Spelling out why something is funny sucks all the humor out of it, but it looks like there's a need for it here unfortunately. There is little that could be done to make a more perfect picture of what many people vehemently contend is a widespread trend responsible for myriad health problems. It's like something you'd see in (I'm blanking on the exact name at the moment) those news paper comics with one panel that aren't on the comics pages. Those things are an extreme that you don't actually expect to ever see in real life. But there you have this image and it actually *is* in real life. It really happened.

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Somebody put a chair on top of a treadmill to sit in and watch TV. Spelling out why something is funny sucks all the humor out of it, but it looks like there's a need for it here unfortunately.

Like caption cartoons? Anyway, is your point that Jaskn's example can be funny? Well yeah, the sight would be pretty funny! I assure you, humor is one of my strong suits. :) But it's a different sort of humor entirely than the OP examples. I'm not even disputing the humor of it, I'm only disputing that the OP stuff isn't shaming. As a joke alone, sure, no problem. Sitting on a treadmill wrongly is funny for all kinds of reasons. I should've said before that I think Jaskn's example is a whole different thing. I'd say it's funny, and not malicious one bit.

 

The problem is things like this as example from the OP:

"when the kids at lunch poked my stomach with pencils to see if I’d deflate"

 

On it's own, it'd be funny. If it wasn't really directed at anyone, I'd say nothing is wrong. "Your momma's so fat, when she got poked for a blood test, she deflated." Like that. So I'm saying that once it becomes about a person, with intent for either causing distress or taking the time to make them appear to others as less, it is shaming. That isn't to say humor that shames is always wrong, but at least in the listed examples of the OP I say it is wrong. I mean if it was about Michael Moore or Rush Limbaugh, I'd say go for it.

 

EDIT: I see where some miscommunication happened. I was referring only to the quoted part of the blog post and the jokes there. I didn't then read the post the blog linked to, so I missed the picture mentioned. I was going off context to (mistakenly) infer what sort of picture it was, and talking about more than jokes from a picture. So... I'm not at all disagreeing about the treadmill part.

Edited by Eiuol
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Oh well, now that you assured us...

I mean, it's not that I lack a sense of humor if I was talking about the blog post which seemed to entirely focus on the woman's past encounters with mean people. Misleading blog post is misleading. =\

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