Is Drought Shaming Good?

Is Drought Shaming Good?

Drought shaming is the new social tool to stop water wasters. Or is it? The very word “shame” has a negative meaning. While it’s good to be aware of water usage, and it’s good to help a neighbor who may not know he has a broken sprinkler head, humiliating him if you spot a leak may not help anyone.

At first, I thought I’d get all the apps and spend time looking for water wasters to help us save water during this drought. But then I asked myself why would I do this? I would make people feel bad and get them angry—and likely, me as well.

I learned in business that people want to and will change and do the right thing, but they don’t want to be forced into it. I also realized that if I was honest with myself, I would be reporting water wasters to feel good about myself. “Look at me–I did something good and valuable today!” That’s pretty selfish. And so I’ve wound up completely reversing my opinion on this topic. I don’t want to be a water vigilante.

Responsible gardeners know how much water they use and know how much they are required to reduce during our current drought. I’m an adult and can decide if I want to skip my shower and water my prized roses instead. I don’t need my neighbor coming over and reminding me there is a drought. Or worse, taking a picture of me and saying I’m the devil and even posting my address online. There are enough things to worry about without my having to monitor such sites such as VizSafe or Twitter’s @DroughtShameApp.  Sure, there are people trying to “out” movie stars who may not be as water frugal as they should be, but that won’t stop the drought.

Our local water agencies are in charge of controlling our water usage, and we should let them do their jobs. We pay their salaries. As long as I stay within my allocation and do everything I can not to waste water, I want to be able to use my water without feeling the evil eye from a passerby. If you think your local water agency is not doing enough, go and get involved.  They need all the ideas they can get!

I call shaming by another name—bullying. And bullying never ends well. When you spot a pipe break or other water system oopsie, maybe you can gently let your neighbor know without making him feel that he’s a criminal. Or you can make a simple phone call to the local water company, and let their employees take it from there. Wouldn’t you feel foolish publicizing someone’s supposed water wasting, only to learn the runoff actually was caused by a problem four houses over?

Shaming is selfish. It makes the person who is doing it feel he has done a good thing and has spurred change. But if one or both of the parties involved wind up feeling hurt or angry, the stress may not be worth it. And often times the end result is not the intended goal of saving water.

Stress is bad!     That’s why we have our gardens–wonderful places of peace and joy.

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