Ok. I went back and forth… and back and forth again with this one. My first reaction when I found the video was something like “MONICA LEWINKSY HAS A TED TALK??? World, WHAT are you doing?” But of course, I was intrigued. So I watched and not surprisingly, this video didn’t leave me with any more clarity about where I fall with her as a person, but that is sort of the point is driving this talk.
Shaming has been a part of our culture for some time now – and the majority of shaming is done online. While shaming might bring up thoughts of middle schoolers bullying one another, the truth is that shaming can be, and has been, done to people of all ages.
The internet is a place of anonymity and due to that fact shaming is most prevalent online. Whether we see articles about mothers shaming other mothers for breastfeeding in public or followers of certain dietary trends shaming those who aren’t on their bandwagon, shaming has really taken root in our society.
When we shame someone online we’re not merely giggling at their faults, we’re branding them. Seeing someone’s faults through the media’s eyes takes away their realness and makes them two-dimensional. They’re a meme, a funny blog post, a stereotype – and all of this is cyber-bullying. It is not news to say that cyber-bullying has now been the cause of many suicides.
Monica Lewinsky, an expert on what it is to be shamed, reflects on shaming in the current age in this touching TED Talk. Discussing what shaming was to her back in 1998, and how cyber-bullying has taken shape today, Lewinsky says, “Today, too many parents haven’t had the chance to step in and rescue their loved ones. Too many have learned of their child’s suffering and humiliation after it was too late.” Shocked by the research done that shows “humiliation is a more intensely filled emotion than happiness or even anger,” Lewinsky states that “millions of people can anonymously stab you with their words. There is a very personal price to public humiliation and the growth of the internet has jacked up that price.”