Shaming is Wrong

In economics, there’s a popular and effective way to get people to do stuff. It’s used as a tool to enact change. Want people to use less water? Shame them publicly. Want people to vote more often? Shame them publicly. The trick is to compare them to their neighbors. The research shows that people don’t think they’re affected by these “prosocial messages,” even if they are.

How is this different than slut shaming? Shame as a motivator is wrong, no matter who does it or why. Its power stems from a majority imposing their views on the minority. In drought stricken areas of Texas, this tactic was used to get the people to use less water. Now, that sounds good and necessary, right?

My answer is simple. No! Shame is wrong!

Find another way. Just because something is effective doesn’t make it right. Nationalism is effective. Hate is effective. There’s no end to the tools that are effective but wrong. You know that old old maxim, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” It’s applicable here, I think.


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