The Snoop Next Door

The Snoop Next Door –
The return of the Pilgrims’ Scarlet Letter via the On-line Community.

The embrace of the Web to expose trivial transgressions in part represents a return to shame as a check on social behavior, says Henry Jenkins, director of the comparative media studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some academics believe shame became less powerful as a control over everyday interactions with strangers in all but very small neighborhoods or social groups, as people moved to big cities or impersonal suburbs where they existed more anonymously.

Trivial Pursuits

Many Web sites — some general, some specific — catalog everyday misdeeds committed by average people. Here is a sampling:

Bad driving;;; On these sites, users can report bad drivers and cite license plate numbers. At some, people can also report good drivers, though far fewer do so. At least eight PlateWire users have chastised themselves online, including one in Nevada last month who apologized for cutting another driver off in a post titled “Telling on Myself.”
Bad or illegal parking;; youparklikeana** Parking on the sidewalk, taking up two spaces, cramping in another driver — they’re all there. doesn’t show many photos, but it says it sold about 30,000 bumper stickers displaying the site address last year, up from 10,000 in 2005.
Leaving dog droppings; Photos and videos on the two sites have captions like “bad owner.” One YouTube chronicle, “a nice doggy’s bad owner leaves a landmine on Dean Street in Brooklyn,” has been viewed nearly 1,300 times since it went up in April.
Leering, whistling at women and other HollaBack sites Women can post pictures and videos of men who leer or make comments like “hey baby, wanna make love??!!” launched in 2005, inspired by one woman who photographed a lewd man on the subway. Now, there are at least 14 other local sites in the U.S. and Canada.
Littering Site doesn’t post license plate numbers of littering drivers, but it does act. Reported plateholders in participating states (Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina) get a notice — the site sends the details to the state, which then mails a letter to the vehicle owner. For other states, the site may send an email to the governor.
Loud talking on a cellphone; Flickr abounds with pictures of people talking loudly on cellphones or displaying bad cell etiquette. Could you be there? Photos have titles and comments like “TalksTooLoud,” “Loud talker” and “Chatty McBlabsalot.”
Yelling at children Five-month-old site has about 190 sightings so far, and most relate tales of bad behavior. Two more sites for nannies — and — have since been launched in reaction.

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