Long before sites like peopleofwalmart.com were around, the world made fun of people.

I'm certain even the kindest souls have scrutinized someone at one point in their lives whether it be silently or shared with a friend for a laugh.

However, considering what a behemoth the Internet has become, coupled with the simplicity of sharing information through smart phones and computers, the "art" of public shaming and humiliation has hit new heights in popularity.

What I don't see as clear is, where is the line?

When does simple "making fun" turn into rude and disrespectful? Or does the fun in making fun even exist?

For me personally, my friends and loved ones and I tend to take jabs at each other on a regular basis. Playful banter back and forth is almost symbolic of how close I am with someone.

But when it comes to strangers, does anyone really have the right to ridicule?

If you are tall enough, does it give you license to make fun of short people? If you consider yourself attractive, are all "ugly" people fair game? If you have a BMI in the normal range, does that qualify you as someone who can freely make fun of those who weigh much more or much less than you?

Admittedly, I love to people watch and admittedly, I have many a time made fun of strangers for what they were wearing, how they styled their hair, the quality of their dental hygiene and more.

Usually, it's something I'd share with a friend and we'd get a good laugh out of it, and the subject in question would have absolutely no clue we had even uttered a word about them.

I've never been a bully nor do I ever intend on hurting someone's feelings or making them feel bad about themselves. If anything, I want everyone to know and truly feel they are awesome in their own unique way.

So why do I make fun of people?

I see it more and more on Facebook, especially. Someone will take a photo of someone who is either overweight or dressed in an attention-seeking manner and the comments start a-rolllin'.


"I saw her, too; I almost puked."

(No one really uses semicolons on Facebook, but you get my point.)

Everyone has a hoot and a half getting their jabs in on an unsuspecting stranger.

But that stranger is a human being, too.

It's someone's daughter or mother or sister.

This is where I'm reevaluating.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I have absolutely no right to publicly judge anyone, therefore, I won't take part in the public shaming of strangers.

Sites like peopleofwalmart.com may be hilarious to the masses and many of those featured in the daily posts may be getting the attention they deliberately seek, but it's just not nice and it's not fair and, at the end of the day, I have to put myself in their shoes and know that my feelings would be hurt and my self-esteem bruised had I stumbled upon myself being torn apart in public forum.

I can't say I'll never make fun of anything again - that's something that is apparently hard-wired into my brain - I just don't think public shaming is acceptable behavior for decent human beings.

So, just think about it next time you see an opportunity to laugh at the expense of a stranger and join in on belittling someone who may just be having a bad day, a bad month or a bad life, for that matter.

It may not be as fun, but perhaps give handing out compliments a whirl to switch it up a bit. Everyone has value and it's not up to us to be the judge of anyone's worth.

(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)