A couple of nights ago, unable to sleep, I was browsing through Social Media (I know, I know, poor sleep hygiene) when I came upon a TED talk by Monika Lewinsky. I don’t know what made me watch it, but I didn’t really get what I bargained for, which is ironic given the subject of her talk. She was talking to raise awareness of the cruel, ruthless, devastating, sometimes life-taking way in which Social Media is used to publically shame people.
It immediately brought to mind the recent pictures of Wentworth Miller (of Prison Break fame) with, quite frankly, fucking awful captions suggesting that his substantial weight gain had something to do with a relationship with a well-known fast food chain. He immediately released a statement on Facebook explaining the reasons behind his appearance, simultaneously belittling the photographers/journalists involved in the article and speaking out about Mental Illness (in all its many guises). For this, I applaud him. As someone currently battling Bulimia, I know first-hand how damaging such mindless ignorance can be for a certain type of reader.
But back to Monica Lewinsky. As I said, her talk wasn’t what I expected because, like a lot of people, I only know of her for one reason. She didn’t deny, or attempt to excuse what she had been involved in (can you believe it was 18 years ago?). She was compassionate, empathetic, eloquent, charming, funny. She, very humbly, considered herself lucky, since Social Media was yet to take the World by storm when her ‘story’ broke. She gave a specific example of how catastrophic public-shaming/cyber-bullying can be. She gave details of charities that can help with cyber-bullying, not only in the US, but also in the UK and Australia. She reduced her audience to tears.
So, yeah, I learnt a lot in the very early hours of Thursday morning, when sleep eluded me. I learnt that I am just as guilty as the next person of ‘judging a book by its cover’. I was reminded that people are human. I came to the realisation that mankind are being swept up, corrupted, by a handful of pigs who grant themselves the right to name, shame, judge, torment, torture…
…and Monica Lewinsky is a pretty nice lady.