This is an incredibly brave speech by Monica Lewinsky. In her vulnerability, there is a quiet strength that comes through. It’s a timely message. We need to put compassion back into our culture, to teach it to our young, to click it back into the internet. Every click is a choice, a choice which will determine who we become in the end. ~ Ivy
Highlights from the talk:
Public humiliation has become a commodity
The 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 an industry. How is the money made? Clicks. The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars.
Making money off the back of someone else’s suffering
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 the back of someone else’s suffering. With every click we make a choice.
A virtual public stockade that has no perimeters
Cruelty to others in nothing new, but online, technologically enhanced shaming is amplified, uncontained, and permanently accessible. The echo of embarrassment used to extend only as far as your family, village, school or community, but now it’s the online community too.
Millions of people, often anonymously, can stab you with their words, and that’s a lot of pain, and there are no perimeters around how many people can publicly observe you and put you in a public stockade.
Stop this culture of humiliation
Gossip websites, paparazzi, reality programming, politics, news outlets and sometimes hackers all traffic in shame. It’s led to desensitisation and a permissive environment online which lends itself to trolling, invasion of privacy, and cyberbullying. This shift has created what Professor Nicolaus calls a culture of humiliation.
Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop and it’s time for an intervention on the Internet and in our culture.
Let’s take responsibility for what words can do
We need to return to a long-held value of compassion – compassion and empathy. Even empathy from one person can make a difference. The theory of minority influence, proposed by social psychologist Serge Moscovici, says that even in small numbers, when there’s consistency over time, change can happen. In the online world, we can foster minority influence by becoming upstanders. To become an up stander means instead of bystander apathy, we can post a positive comment for someone or report a bullying situation.
We talk a lot about our right to freedom of expression, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of expression.