Saturday, March 21, 2015

Monica Lewinsky's TED Talk: "A Culture of Humiliation"

Monica Lewinsky has finally come out into the public again, this time with a very different message to give. In this TED Talk (linked above), Lewinsky discusses an issue that she is all too familiar with - cyber bulling and online harassment. What is interesting, as she points out, is that she is "patient zero" for online humiliation. When the scandal with her and Clinton broke news, Lewinsky experienced an unprecedented amount of shaming because of the growth of the internet. Now, she is speaking out because she has noticed trends similar to what happened to her. She is coming back into the public eye to bring more attention to this issue, hoping to aid others in her situation.

Much of what she talked about was the emotional repercussions of online harassment and the lack of compassion there is on the internet. She argues that people are banking off of harassment, and rather than being upstanders online, people usually click away, looking at leaked photos or emails, without much thought about the consequences. Instead of fostering shame, Lewinsky wants us to help start fostering a culture of compassion, both online and off.

I think that this talk is very much connected to our conversations about how reputation and identity is formed online through social media. Monica Lewinsky's identity was destroyed through online entities, and now she is trying to pick up her reputation and change it into something much more positive - rather than being seen as a constant joke online, she wants to promote more positive change online.

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