Sentenced by the Internet
Shopping for free? Beware of the Internet fame that will follow.
Two teenagers are now the talk of the town, after they were photographed and shamed online for shoplifting in Bangkok, Thailand. They are not the first Singaporeans to be named and shamed online, and it hardly seems they will be the last.
What’s going on?
On June 16, two Singaporean girls who were shopping in Thailand decided to steal two spaghetti strap tops from a shop in Platinum Fashion Mall.
The Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) caught their actions and very soon, the shop owner had sent their pictures to various group chats that included about 1,000 shop owners in Bangkok. The two 18-year-olds at that time were eventually caught in another shopping mall a little further away.
After admitting to their offence, the girls paid a 5,000 baht (S$190) fine to buy the whole stock of tops they had stolen. However, the shopkeeper was disgusted that the girls were laughing and taking photos throughout the incident.
Mr Thorm, the shop keeper, said: “They looked like they were just having fun, happily taking photos all the way. We told them that it was a serious matter and it wasn’t fun and games.”
He added that the girls appeared to “not show any remorse”.
He then decided to post their pictures online so others could be aware of what had happened. Although the Facebook post has been removed, netizens have been flaming the teenagers for their flamboyant attitudes and blaming them for disgracing Singapore.
The girls are not the first Singaporeans to be shamed online. In 2013, a Singaporean couple was flamed online and on Taiwan’s national TV for causing havoc in a family-owned motel. The couple had checked in a day earlier than planned, left the water running, damaged and stolen from the room and then left without paying.
The Internet has been used daily to shame citizens for a myriad of reasons, ranging from racist rants to ungracious behaviour like cutting queues or not giving up seats to the needy on public transport. Netizens have been known to be relentless in their attacks, and some go as far as to reveal personal or private details of the culprits online.
19-year-old Nur Emilyanna, a third year polytechnic student, said: “It’s true that [the girls] apologised but apologies don’t fix the fact that our country’s name has been dragged through the mud. I think it’s only fair this case gets the publicity it is getting because more people can realise that not all Singaporeans are like this, and that it’s only these two girls.”
However, others feel the case is being treated too seriously considering the age of the girls. They feel that netizens are being too harsh and that they deserve a second chance.
20-year-old polytechnic student, Charlene Koh, agreed: “I think the girls have learnt their lesson. They are young and while I am not excusing their behaviour, I think we should cut them some slack. The incident is over and everything has been settled so we should just let it go and move on. Sharing the pictures and the post and commenting angrily will not change what they did.”
What’s your take?
- Do you agree with the shop owner putting up pictures of the girls online? Why?
- Have you ever participated in shaming someone online, either through liking, commenting or sharing a shame post?
- What do you think of our online shaming culture?
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