Monica Lewinsky stepped into the spotlight for the first time in over a decade recently to address the mortal dangers we all face as part of digital life.
“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” Ms. Lewinsky said, looking out over the crowd of close to 1,400 attending her TED Talk. “And at the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences.”
Lewinsky’s Talk was a cautionary tale about the consequences of online hate speech and bullying. Of course she recounted her own experiences with public shaming in the late 90’s. She also referenced the lives of other touched by cyberbullies, including Tyler Clementi, lost to suicide in 2010.
But Lewinsky’s message wasn’t simply about sob stories or guilt, it was a call to action.
“in this culture of humiliation, there is another kind of price tag attached to public shaming.” She said, “The price does not measure the cost to the victim, which Tyler and too many others, notably women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community have paid, but the price measures the profit of those who prey on them.
“This invasion of others is a raw material, efficiently and ruthlessly mined, packaged and sold at a profit. A marketplace has emerged where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry. How is the money made? Clicks. The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars. We’re in a dangerous cycle. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it, and the more numb we get, the more we click. All the while, someone is making money off of the back of someone else’s suffering. With every click, we make a choice. The more we saturate our culture with public shaming, the more accepted it is, the more we will see behavior like cyberbullying, trolling, some forms of hacking, and online harassment.
Why? Because they all have humiliation at their cores. This behavior is a symptom of the culture we’ve created. Just think about it.”
So, today’s question, the next time you put your fingers to the keys will you be ready to think and face the consequences?