When we were kids, grownups would often tell us off by saying, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” or “Shame on you!” It didn’t help. Today’s young people feel so entitled that no one even tries to use this “educational tool.” Today, if we want people to change their behavior, we have to go much deeper than shaming them; we have to change the motivation for their work.
The main difference between young people today compared to a few decades ago is that today, we feel more alike. People wear the same clothes all over the world, communicate in the same language (English) with people all over the world, and have more or less the same culture. Because people feel more alike, they feel that what they have within them is nothing special, that everyone has the same traits, so there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Indeed, what can people point to about me that is so uniquely awful that I should be ashamed of it? There is not a single trait in me that millions around the world do not have, as well, so why should I be ashamed of it?
Even toward children, using the “Shame on you!” instrument should be minimal, or it will create in them unwarranted insecurity that will impair their development as they grow. Besides, even if you shame them, their shame is like ours: embarrassment that they got caught, not that they did something bad.
Respect is something we all (still) want, so you can play on that, but this is not shame. It is simply that no one wants to lose face.
Nevertheless, if the values in my society are crooked, my “shame” will be crooked, too. If, for instance, I hang out with criminals, then being a successful criminal will make me proud. If the police catch me, I will not be ashamed because of my crime, but because I didn’t commit my crime well enough not to get caught.
Therefore, if we want people to change, we should not work through shaming them, but through changing the social values.
Currently, the prime value is entitlement. Superstars and social media idols boast about their sense of entitlement to the point that sociologists call it the “Me! Me! Me!” culture, a “narcissism epidemic.”
If we want a different society, we must change people’s values. Through the media, social media, and the education system, concentrated and orchestrated efforts must be made to change our social values.
If we idolize people who bring people together, soon, our whole society will be more connected. If we bring to people’s awareness that the global village is not a small town in Iowa, or some place, but a term that means we’re all connected and dependent on each other for our lives, then people will begin to treat each other differently. Their self-interest will drive them to be considerate. From there, they will begin to develop more genuine care, and our world will begin to return to sanity.