Part of a series on California's 21st Century Drought. [View Related Entries]
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Drought Shaming, also known by its hashtag #Droughtshaming, is the act of publicly denouncing someone for not conserving water properly during a drought, most often by Tweeting or Instagramming a photo combined with the hashtag. The practice became popular during the California drought, which officially began in 2011 and continued through July 2015.
After 2013, the driest recorded year in California's history, the state began introducing marketing to educate people to stop consuming as much water. The marketing encouraged California's residents to stop watering lawns, filling pools, and other wasteful activities, and instituted a $500 fine for those who were caught doing so. Some cities instituted a hotline so that neighbors could begin calling in to report their neighbors' water usage and the practice proved effective; after this hotline was created in Sacramento, CA, water use declined by 17%.
It's unclear where the first use of the hashtag #droughtshaming comes from, but consistent use of the term on social media began in mid-June, 2014; the practice began even earlier. On July 4th, 2014, the New York Times recorded instances of drought shaming that dated back to April of that year.
In Mid-July 2015, neighborhood-watch app VizSafe added a drought section to their feed types, allowing people who saw water overuse to report it directly to their feeds; it also funneled posts using the tag #droughtshaming into officials who monitored the feeds. In the span between mid-June 2014 to mid-July 2014, Twitter users used the hashtag around 550 times.
In 2015, California still had not recovered from drought, and restrictions to homeowners became mandatory in May 2015, increasing instances of drought shaming. The hashtag's use increased in frequency to over 1,000 instances on Twitter per day before returning to low levels in June. On Instagram, the hashtag has been used over 800 times as of July 2015.
On YouTube, California residents began recording drought shaming videos; one account, run by watchdog Tony Corcoran who also runs droughtshaming.net, recorded 64 different drought shaming videos around the Los Angeles area, some of which have received over 1000 views. He has been criticized, however, for posting the exact addresses at which he films.
Tom Selleck and other Celebrity Drought Shames
On July 9th, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that actor Tom Selleck had reached a settlement with the Calleguas Municipal Water District, who had accused the actor and star of the photoshop trend Tom Selleck Waterfall Sandwich of stealing water by pumping it out of fire hydrants in the county and then transporting it to his 60-acre estate.
This incident reflected some opinions from earlier in the year, when many accused California's rich of being the main over-users of water, and proposed that drought shaming was a kind of class warfare. Gizmodo claimed that incidences of the wealthy being drought-shamed, like in this comprehensively photographed article of celebrity estates in Page Six, was "shoving another of California’s problems--vast income inequality--into an uncomfortable spotlight." Celebrities who were actively drought shamed include Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Barbara Streisand, Julia Roberts, and Jennifer Aniston.
 Bustle – In Dry California, "Drought Shaming" Your Neighbors On Twitter Is Actually Happening
 CBS Sacramento – Drought Shaming Pitting Neighbors Against Neighbors On Social Media
 New York Times – Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use
 KCET – New App Lets You Report Water Wasters In Your Neighborhood
 Topsy – Hashtag: drought shaming
 YouTube – Western Water Luv's Videos
 Instagram – Tag: Droughtshaming
 Los Angeles Times – Tom Selleck, water district reach tentative settlement in dispute
 Page Six – Here’s what celebrities’ lawns look like during California’s drought
 Gizmodo – California's Wealthiest Are Being Drought Shamed on Social Media
Jul 10, 2015 at 01:16PM EDT
Jul 10, 2015 at 02:26PM EDT
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