Nice Guys of OK Cupid Latest Fodder for Online Shaming

The latest target for our collective online ridicule:  lonely, sometimes pudgy, men who can't get dates due to their misogynistic tendencies.

Men who have labeled themselves (not ironically) as "nice guys" on an online dating site have unscrupulously been gathered together in a new Tumblr called the "Nice Guys of OK Cupid." These unsuspecting rejects from the online dating site have become the modern day face of sexism and rape-culture, or at the very least, homophobes and men who hate being "friend-zoned,"  - basically, men who are not so nice after all.  

Besides wondering why they can’t get dates after writing most girls they know are "shallow bitches" or "whores" who always fall for "jerks," "douches" and "assholes" instead of them, quite a few of the men answered the OK Cupid question about sexual obligations with "No is really a yes in disguise."

And their sexism is an Internet hit! Well, more like the Tumblr itself, which besides getting thousands of notes on each post has now been covered by everyone from New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Gawker’s Jezebel, and even the New Statesman. As Laurie Penny postulated on New Statesman, these men’s "worst nightmares have come true: all over the world, ladies who don't even know him are laughing at him."

Nicely Shaming Nice Guys

As far as public shaming goes - a trend that has become quite fashionable these days - Nice Guys of OK Cupid is pretty tame: the real names of the men are not listed, nor are their addresses. (So no one is harassing them on their Twitter or Facebook or prank calling them - yet.)

Unlike other instances of public shaming, the aim of this project is not clear either;  people upset by Lindsey Stone’s middle-finger photo wanted her fired (and set on fire), Gawker wanted school officials to know about teens racist online postings, and Hello There, Racists! wanted racists to be humiliated -  but what does Nice Guys of OK Cupid want?

To humiliate these men, or warn women browsing OK Cupid to stay away from them? While the former seems more likely, humiliating these men will not help them change their behavior, or even help them understand why their behavior needs to be changed in the first place.

"There has to be an answer to these guys that isn’t just pointing and laughing... Are we ever going to be able to have a conversation about consent, about respect, about fucking, and maybe even about love, that doesn’t descend into bullying and invective?," Penny wrote. 

Probably not.

The Old Internet Story

The Internet has been harassing people for various reasons since its first public inception, and making the leap that Internet has enabled bullying through pseudonyms is not a far-fetched claim.  Cyberbullying, or public shaming, can sometimes be referred to as Internet vigilantism, which gained considerable momentum on 4chan’s /b/, the same message board that spawning the online activist collective Anonymous. This form of online ridicule has moved beyond the confines of 4chan’s /b/ - sometimes referred to as "the asshole of the Internet" - and is now mainstream with writers like Buzzfeed’s Matt Buchanan who argue public shaming is okay so we can exact "moral rectitude" - whatever that means -  on sexists and racists. We are all qualified to be judge, jury and executioner, apparently. 

If the Internet is indeed getting nicer as Nathan Heller theorized last month in New York Magazine, why is public shaming now so mainstream? In a prior interview, the online troll and writer Jon Hendren speculated the rising trend of outlets shaming online deviants has legitimized the practice for readers and casual Internet users. Think: If the media is going after sexists, racists, and sexual deviants, we can too.

The coverage Nice Guys of OK Cupid received - a Tumblr which we can all agree makes fun of low-hanging Internet fruit without offering much context - would certainly make its author feel validated.  But how many cycles of shame will it take before we all get the clue about glass houses?