Public Shaming

There is this thing happening now. With all of our social media outlets and keyboard courage, there are multitudes of pictures and video’s of heroin addicts popping up on screens (tv, twitter, Facebook, etc). The first I saw was a Ohio couple that were passed out, basically while driving, with a 4 year old in the back seat.  The caption said parents overdosing with child in back. The picture showed a distraught looking boy strapped in a car seat while two adults were half dead in the driver and passenger seats.  The police station released the picture with an article saying that it’s disturbing but it’s relevant and necessary. I was outraged. I was outraged for the child of course, but also that the police sort of brushed off their culpability. The two adults, who turned out not to be parents but a grandmother and her boyfriend, were clearly heavy users. Nothing about them looked presentable or respectable and I mean that in the most polite way. The kid looked dirty and unkempt.  I find it difficult to believe that when the child was removed from his parents and placed in the care of the grandmother, no one noticed she was fucked up too.  Lots of commenter’s praised the police for bringing light to the heroin epidemic.  I had the opposite reaction.  I was annoyed because I saw a child that was completely abandoned by the state that should have been protecting him. No one paid enough attention when the state took him from his mother, and no one paid attention when he would show up places dirty and not well cared for. No one paid attention because no one followed up. He was a junkie’s kid so he was placed with family and forgotten about.  And that picture only proved to create more hostility to a group of suffering addicts that need more support not public shaming.  So I thought.

The next time I saw something on social media was a toddler trying to wake her mother up whom had apparently fallen down, passed out in the snack isle of a grocery store. The little girl brought tears to my eyes as she could be heard in the background yelling, loudly, for her mommy to wake up. She was terrified. And there was a bystander that was referring to the prone woman by name asking others to help him. Did anyone? No. No one helped him. Many people took the time to video the spectacle and post it, re-post it, share it and tweet highlighting the poor girls terrifying moments.  Of course, many people posted comments about the piece of shit mother, and she should be dead, and the kid should be taken away. And those comments aren’t wrong, but how in the world did that lady even still have that kid? None of that is helping either of them.  It is providing further proof that junkies should rot in hell and they all make the choice to shit on their families and kids.  I felt that it was proof positive that American’s have become more interested in being the first to post the next 5-minute hit video to get 1 million shares/likes/reposts.  It outraged me. For a while.

The next video I saw that made me sick and infuriated me was an 8 year old boy being told on Facebook live that his mother just died of a drug overdose. That extremely difficult moment, one of the most memorable and horrific events of his life was broadcasted on effing Facebook for the world to see. His cries were heart breaking. Hearing him saying “wait, my mom is dead?” was like taking a bullet. I was angry at the adults in the video for allowing his vulnerability to be shown worldwide like it was an exibit at a human emotion circus. I mean, in my head, addicts aren’t watching those videos. I know my addict wouldn’t be high watching that video to have the epiphany to be clean. The people who watch those video’s either have an addict in their life, lost an addict from their life, or have no idea what it is like to love an addict. Essentially everyone falls into one of those three categories. For those that have unfortunately experienced addiction first hand, those videos hurt at a level that is indescribable. For  those that don’t have an addict in their life it will help form an opinion that could either help to end the opioid crisis, or will afford you judgment to those that are addicted.  So fucking frustrating.  Sort of.

The last video I saw was of teenagers that returned home to find both of their parents banged up, possibly overdosing. The teenagers spent a few minutes trying to wake them up, putting flash lights in their eyes, shaking them with little to no reaction. And for some reason, I got it. I understood why these things are necessary, even though they are disturbing.  They are hard to watch. They are hard to see.  The commenter’s reactions of hatefull-ness and anger are justified.  The children that are being affected by this shit is overwhelming and unnecessary.  They are crude images but for those without an addict in their life, it does provide them an eyeball into a life they most likely otherwise, would not see.  Some will see that the epidemic needs more attention to get addicts help so fewer parents are passing out in the snack isle of the grocery store. Some will see that those people are worthless, useless, boils on the armpit of society and should be thrown away. Either way, there is really no other way to express the depth of the horror that is addiction.  It may be public shaming and hurtful but it is also educational, like it or not. I don’t think I could post anything like that of my addict, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want anything like that posted about my child. But I think when a person is that banged up in public, they have lost a certain right to privacy.

The bottom line is desperate times call for desperate measures. Isn’t my blog a form of public shaming? Aren’t I spilling my family’s dirty laundry in an effort to educate others and unite like minded individuals? Words may paint a picture and many can feel the pain I have endured, but those pictures and videos are irrefutable. I want addiction to be seen as a disease. I want addicts to be able to get help and come back to society without the prejudice of others.  I want the government to create new programs, more support and better education to help fight the epidemic. To get that, we have to do whatever is necessary. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us, or lines it crosses.  If public shaming would get my daughter help she couldn’t otherwise get, or God forbid, save her life, I would do it. I would do anything. And I think most others are getting to frustrated to a point of anything goes. I might not love it, or be able to go to that extreme yet, but I won’t judge it anymore.

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2 thoughts on “Public Shaming

  1. dor says:

    I hate public shaming in all forms, no matter what the crime. It creates a mob mentality. I feel like it’s the modern day form of stoning from ancient times. Who really has not done something for which they are ashamed? I know I have. I have shamed my addict, but always in private. I think shame is a motivator as long as it isn’t overdone. We know we have done wrong if we have a feeling of guilt, and it can make us change our behavior. I don’t believe your blog is public shaming…I think you are providing an important picture into the life of the family who loves an addict. Like you said, I doubt addicts are even reading these blogs.

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