Sask. professor warns against crossing the line with social media shaming

Gordon Pennycook says we all have to live together when the pandemic is over.

Gordon Pennycook says we all have to live together when the pandemic is over

Two people keep a physical distance from each other during a morning walk through an Ontario park in early April. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

An assistant professor of behavioural science at the University of Regina is warning that people may be jumping to judgment — and shaming people on social media — too quickly in the age of COVID-19. 

Gordon Pennycook said he's heard of people in some places calling the cops on neighbours who are taking walks. 

"It's easy to take things to an extreme," Pennycook warned. 

"We need to obviously enforce that norm around physical distancing but it doesn't take very much for someone to take it to the next level."

It may be hard for police to make sure everyone is following public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, so some people have resorted to social-media-shaming others in hopes of getting people to abide by the rules. The Morning Edition talks with University of Regina professor Gordon Pennycook about social-media shaming. 7:02

Pennycook said shaming on social media may make some people feel better, but that you should consider what will happen once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

"I'm not sure [people] are considering enough about the fact that we're going to have to live with each other after this," Pennycook said. 

"It can last for a while but we need to keep in mind that empathy is important."

Pennycook said he tries to remember empathy when he sees people not following public health advice because he doesn't know their background. 

At the same time, he said people should watch out for those who aren't following the public health order as the pandemic drags on.

With files from Heidi Atter and The Morning Edition


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