Laura Donovan
July 14, 2014 1:23 pm

Shaming knows no bounds on the Internet. At first there was dog shaming, which was actually pretty cute because guilty-looking canines are adorable. Then came kid shaming, a trend I denounced earlier this year for mocking and taking advantage of young children. The online world was unkind long before these movements came about, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that roommate shaming is now apparently a thing. . . or at least on its way to becoming a thing.

Anyone who has ever had roommates knows it can be a huge challenge at times. Sharing a living space is tough whether you’re married, related, best friends or complete strangers, and it’s easy to clash every once in a while. But the roommate shaming movement, which started on Reddit, focuses on the negative and may run the risk of being more about trash-talking others than simply lamenting roommate woes.

A photo posted on Reddit’s roommate shaming thread features a shirtless sleeping man beside a crisp pizza and a note reading, “I get drunk and leave pizza in the oven all night.” One could argue that this kind of shaming serves a bigger purpose—to protect the sanctity of the home—but given how many people use Reddit on a daily basis, it seems rather mean to upload a picture like that for a massive audience to judge. It’s more about giving the individual an unforgiving Internet roast than explaining the consequences of careless inebriated choices.

Naturally, a lot of people really liked the implications of the roommate shaming post. Comedian Tess Barker wrote of the image, “He is today’s poster child for online roommate shaming, something that should happen way more often. Not only will it wipe that drunken smile off of your roommate’s stupid face, but it gives the rest of us something to laugh at while at work. Let’s make roommate shaming more of a thing!” With all due respect to Barker, I think the movement would create more conflict if it were to grow in popularity, so I’m hoping we keep it to a minimum for now.

Roommate shaming isn’t exactly new, but before this snapshot went viral, people mainly posted photos of notes they’d left for roommates or vice versa. Though not as personal, they still make my stomach turn, as any conversation of tone really ought to be done in person rather than on paper. I’ve definitely fired off a nasty text or note to roommates in the past, but I’m not proud of this portion of my personal history. The best roommate relationships I’ve had involved difficult conversations when necessary. I’d much rather hash out my problems face-to-face than on paper like this:

I understand why someone would want to write a note or take an unflattering photo of a roommate to make a point. The real issue with both of these things is not the accompanying shame—however public or private—but the inability to directly communicate with a person in one’s shared living space. If you’re not happy or comfortable where you live, it’s going to show in other areas of life, and there really is nothing worse than feeling uneasy in your comfort zone. Voicing your concerns with the other party is the only way to keep more problems from arising. Calling upon the Internet to stand with you against your roommate definitely makes for a funny meme, but not for a healthy, happy home.

Images via.