Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shaming on the Subway

Posted by Caitlin Endyke

On my commute home last night, my subway car had one of the ads mentioned in this CBS piece- ads produced by the City of New York in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.

And I was about as irked by them as the people mentioned in that article (the piece spells out a pretty good argument for why they are insensitive and ineffective, which I won’t repeat here, but it’s worth a read).  But after ranting to my roommate about them, I thought about how these ads were also indicative of how we talk about issues like these in society, in general.  

What these ads do is place blame squarely on individuals (and not even adult individuals, at that), without offering any concrete solutions or positive examples.  They essentially say, in provoking imagery and language, “Don't Do This”, or even, “The Situation You're Already In Has Ruined Your Life”, yet they do nothing to offer constructive alternatives or get at root causes of the issues that might be leading people to find themselves in these situations in the first place.  This, I think, is the kind of discourse that really needs to be taking place both on the local and national levels in this country.  On both sides of the political spectrum we spend so much time denouncing the efforts of the other side, and so little time offering alternatives or speaking to what got us here in the first place.  I think one of the first steps towards a commons-based society would be to stop blaming the people around us and start having real conversations about how we can best help our fellow citizens. We need to do more than try to scare or intimidate people.  We need to provide our communities with information, resources and examples of how we can all support each other in leading more fulfilling lives. 


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