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The Missing Shame in American Society

I don’t know when it became OK for people to be so open about the weird stuff they are into. I have always lived by the code whatever you do is fine as long as I don’t have to see it. It’s been a mantra for decades. However, since the dawn of the internet people have been very happy to share things about themselves that not everyone wants to know and most of it is downright obscene.

Usually pornography is the kind of thing you see hidden behind solid shelves in a very hard to reach part of the magazine rack or it is bottom shelf, brownbag and hidden. With today’s Facebook and other social networking sites, porn can be seen by anyone the moment the clueless guy or gal hits “like”. I am not going to tell Mark Zuckerberg how to run Facebook. I just don’t go to those pages and that’s fine, however when someone else likes a page or shares a photo it doesn’t just stay on their own wall. We all get to see it in our news feeds because our walls are not private. They are public. And here lies the problem.

We used to have something called shame in society and it worked very well at making people think before doing something that was silly, or harmful, destructive or just plain wrong. Far be it from me to judge anyone, but I was always told that pornography was obscene and that it was harmful to the people who not only were in the photos or videos, it was harmful to the person viewing them. And it is not just me who thinks that. A lot of people think that and feel very strongly about it.

Look, no one wants to cramp anyone’s style but does the word “shame” ever enter a person’s mind before they hit the like button on a page. Does the idea that perhaps their thing doesn’t exactly float the rest of the planet’s boat ever cross their minds?

I ask this because more and more I am seeing really disgusting photos being shared by men and some women. When confronted these people get defensive. I have been told by several that what they shared on their wall or the page they liked was not pornography. OK, so the photos and or page with a girl barely wearing anything at all or the two people in a very compromising position might not be porn in the mind of the interested party but the rest of us who are being subjected to that garbage sure think it is porn. If it looks like porn, no matter how much ketchup said pervert try’s to put on it, it is porn. And let’s just say some things that are seen can never be unseen. Yuck.

The thing that is so bizarre is how shameless this all is. The idea of being ashamed of oneself is a very healthy idea. The reason is simple: Shame helps people make the right decisions. Shame stops people from doing things that hurt them or others. Shame is a lot more potent than what it would appear to be because, for millennia, humanity of many different cultures strove to steer clear of shaming themselves, and shaming their families. It’s a powerful weapon in character building.

We have all done things that we were ashamed of. Now days? There’s a whole industry called psychology that has undermined that word “shame”. We now live in a gravity free world where the old hippy cliché’ “if it feels good do it” governs everyday life. We wonder why our society is failing. Shame has left the building.

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Stephanie Janiczek

Stephanie Janiczek is a former Capitol Hill Staff Assistant, Schedule C Appointee and Leadership Institute alum. Military Wife, Hunter, Horse enthusiast, dog owner, writer and feminist kryptonite.