My biggest takeaway from the Monica Lewinsky (TED, 2015) video is her memory and shame regarding what she said in those 20 hours of tapes. Making private words public is so incredibly dangerous. We have all said things that we regret, and when I think about the world hearing some of those out of my own mouth it makes me shudder. Instead of highlighting and publicizing people’s mistakes, they should be regarded as moments of growth so people can just learn from those experiences and move on.
The one word that comes to mind during this video is inhumane. When people cyberbully it is so inhumane because many think it doesn’t really hurt anyone since the people doing it often don’t see these victims in pain. I bet (at least I like to think) that if most people could see how their cyberbullying choices affect their victims, they wouldn’t say these things. But since that screen is sitting between them and reality, they think their words are just them expressing their opinions and not them victimizing others.
I’m not really sure how different that specific scandal would be if it had occurred later on. Her individual experience would have been worse because people could have more easily harassed her, but the scandal itself was as big as it could have been. I do think it would’ve fallen out of the spotlight more quickly because of how many public shaming situations occur. Monica still would’ve experienced more severe cyberbullying, but part of me really does think it would’ve been overshadowed quickly by the next terrible, inhumane public shaming incident.
The U.S. population demands transparency which makes our government demand it as well. It gets votes, which is what they are all looking for. Unfortunately, that kind of honesty encourages public shaming too. I guess the way to guard against it is to show less interest in it as the public. It will only work though if we all come together. If no one clicks on the dramatic, gossipy articles, then they won’t want to dig into the personal lives of so many people.
To cope with the shame game I think we need to encourage our students to practice empathy. This is one of the reasons I love being an English teacher. No matter what the story is, I can always integrate a focus on empathy. It is one of the most important attributes I look for in people I hold close and it is one of the qualities I hope to instill in my students.
This question really stressed me out because I don’t really have an answer I know will work. It seems that all I should need is endless resources but the reality is that money is not even relevant when it comes to cyberbullying; it’s all about respect and perception. I think what I would do if I did have unlimited resources to address this is take over the education system and require an ultimate focus on humanity in every grade level. They would learn to be kind to and serve one another despite terrible decisions and differences. If parents disagreed, teachers would be allowed to openly say that those parents are wrong! Now, if a student says, “My mom told me…” teachers (at least I am) are afraid to fight back and let students know that their parents have misguided morals. I think that’s what I would do because it all starts with these kids. If we can get them to buy in to kindness and change the current tradition, then we could eventually get to a place where no one will click on or repeat the degrading media.
As a side note, that second video with Shane Koyczan (TED, 2013) was INCREDIBLE. I am looking forward to finding a way to integrate that into my classroom somehow.
TED. (2013, March 8). “To this day”…for the bullied and beautiful | Shane Koyczan [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa1iS1MqUy4
TED. (2015, March 20). The price of shame | Monica Lewinsky [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U