Very few people are perfect, not even those who broadcast that they have no biases of any kind. I’ll bet that a fair amount of those sorts of folks say incredibly rude and hurtful things about some other group. I believe, though, that our entire character cannot be boiled down based on one Facebook comment or tweet. Because so many things breeze through our news feed, it’s become easier in our busy lives to say “that guy’s a racist” or “look at that bigot” or “she’s fat.”
A few days ago, news reports buzzed across the internet of a controversial picture of Michael Buble, taken in Miami by his wife. He was posing off to the side, looking directly at the camera. Left of center, a young woman appeared to be ordering at a counter and we only see her from behind. Buble uploaded the photo to Instagram, accompanied by a handful of hashtags that included the following: #myhumps, #babygotback, #hungryshorts. Probably out of fear of being perceived as rude, his final hashtag was #beautifulbum.
As I’ve babbled on through nearly every blog post, I have body image issues. Most people do, even if they won’t admit it. A lot of people say that they don’t care about what other people think, but I bet if anyone took a picture of your ass, mocked you, and then it spread all over the internet, you probably would be mortified. I know I would be. In the last few days, I’ve wondered who this woman is. Was she upset that Buble took her photo and shared it without her knowledge? That it wasn’t just Michael Buble commenting on her rear – it was also his wife; she took the picture! Would it have made a difference to her if he had said something flattering?
Because I usually give people the benefit of the doubt on social media, I thought a little bit about Michael Buble. His celebrity gives him a little more leeway in some respects, but it could also potentially backfire, too. I’ve never been a huge fan of his necessarily, but from now on, I will always associate his poor judgment to upload that picture with his name.
In the interest of full disclosure, I made a not-so-nice comment on a friend’s picture the day after the Buble picture made the rounds. A very nice friend of mine snapped a photo of a man wearing a woman’s bikini and carrying a purse in Times Square. “Did he just come from WalMart?” I wrote, calling out the well-known site, PeopleofWalmart.com. The moment I hit ‘post’, I regretted what I said. The image of Michael Buble’s goofy face, mocking a young woman’s behind, flashed into my head. I realized I was no better.
I could have removed the comment. In the world we now occupy, where every word that comes forth from our fingertips is parsed and weighed for its degree of sensitivity, some people would excoriate me for being a horrible person. They might state that this is my opportunity to model proper internet etiquette by stating that I erred in my judgment and I would be removing my comment. I believe this would imply that I thought they were jerks and that I was also a jerk for having made a WalMart comment to begin with.
This led me to consider the type of guy my friend is. We are acquaintances, but I know he is active in his church and community, is successful in his career, and has a wonderful family. Dare I consider the possibility that he might be a horrible human being for sharing this picture? If so, who would I be to point my finger in the face of the comments and sanctimoniously elevate myself on some Zuckerbergian pedestal?
With the venomous tone that social media has taken in its effort to be the arbiter of righting every perceived wrong in the world, so much of the fun seems to have been let out of my use of social media. Every status update, uploaded photo, and comment goes through my internal screen, considering whether I might upset anyone. Will atheists be irked by my references to my Catholic faith? Will people in unhappy relationships be angry that my husband and I appear to like each other? Is someone’s blood pressure rising that I don’t really see the allure of Trader Joe’s? Or Joe Biden?
After deliberating for a couple of days, I opted not to delete my comment. It does not condense my entire humanity and what I stand for. The fast pace of social media has shaped a belief that an entire dossier on someone’s psyche can be developed, based on whether she clicked a thumbs-up button.
Michael Buble has brought joy to millions of people all over the world with his music. He seems like a nice and respectable guy and covers lots of Frank Sinatra’s songs including “Call Me Irresponsible”. So if you’re going to call Michael “irresponsible” for using poor judgment on social media, you’ll have to call me that, too.