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Many centuries ago, women accused of adultery would be dragged into the village square and made to stand there for extended periods of time while the townspeople threw insults and maybe fruit at them. This is an early version of what we now call “public shaming.”
Today, public shaming usually happens online rather than in front of the local church, people are accused of nose jobs before they’re accused of witchcraft and, most significantly, it’s not just randy women who bear the brunt of this particular kind of cruelty. Even the whitest, wealthiest, manliest men are now in danger – which means literally no one is safe.
The latest installment in the ongoing saga of public shaming comes from one of our very own, an anonymously monitored Twitter account called “CU Makeouts,” or @weCUmakeout. The account does exactly what its handle leads you to believe: it posts pictures of people in the CU community making out.
Most of the posts are retweets from individuals who will have tagged or mentioned the account in their original tweet. Popular phrases and hashtags include encouraging remarks like “Good one” or “Get it!” The atmosphere on the account page seems, for the most part, positive. There is little judgment, very little nudity and the make-outers generally look like they’re having a good time.
But something about the account still makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
When I go to a party, it’s to cut loose, maybe go a little crazy and to do these things without fear of consequences. I certainly don’t aim to make Kodak moments out of my judgmentally-impaired conquests.
I’m not alone in this mentality. Parties are an anything-goes kind of deal. You can do things you wouldn’t normally do in the daylight, and take part in the silent and universal agreement that the rest of the world will let you move on the next day as though nothing happened.
Pictures of party makeouts are a direct violation of this most sacred code. More than that, they are a violation of the privacy we rightfully assume we have. In a perfect world, all the pictures that “CU Makeouts” tweets would be taken by friends of the subjects, with everyone involved having a good laugh about it the next day. But we live in the real world, where people are natural spectators and where they love to be retweeted by a popular account. Many of the people who appear on the page may not even know their photo was taken in the first place.
We have no way of knowing if the people in these pictures are OK with their amorous moments being immortalized on the Internet. We don’t even know if they’re okay with the fact that someone macked on them at all, or if they’d rather just forget the whole thing.
People at parties may be loud and full of smiles, but – especially when alcohol is thrown in the mix – they are also incredibly vulnerable. “CU Makeouts” capitalizes on that vulnerability without any regard to the feelings of the people in the photos, and without any ethical accountability whatsoever. It says alarming things about our community when we prey on the potential shame of others.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Lauren Thurman at firstname.lastname@example.org