The Price of Shame

I put this video from the TED talks 2015 up on Facebook yesterday but wanted to talk some more about it because I think Monica Lewinsky has an extremely powerful, heartfelt message that we can all learn from and perhaps even change the world by acknowledging or maybe even save someone’s life.

17 years have passed since the scandal she was involved in. She has just recently begun to speak out against cyberbulling and humiliation. Her message is poignant and it made me realize how easy it is to quickly type some words and hit “send” or “enter” or “post” and then just go about my business – never, perhaps, considering the consequences or effects of those words.  But, we need to think about the consequences AND we need to think about them BEFORE we hit that button – no matter what it’s labeled.

One of her first questions to the audience was “could I see a show of hands of those of you who did not do something when you were 22 that you are ashamed of or wish you hadn’t done.” No one that I could see raised their hand. We all make mistakes. She fell in love with her boss. Her boss, however, just happened to be the President of the United States. And in 1998 the internet had begun to flourish even though it was before the social media age. So, she was bombarded with hate and contempt by people who didn’t even know her and people who probably were just angry at politics and using this situation as a vehicle for that anger and hatred. These people did not have to answer to anyone because, after all, they were “just posting their thoughts” on the Internet – what’s wrong with that? It’s easy to forget that there is a person at the other end – a real live person with feelings and capable of feeling immense pain and humiliation. Why do we fail to recognize or remember that?

Have you ever lashed out at a post or article on the internet, feeling safe and cozy in your own home behind your computer screen? Think hard before you answer. Then, if your answer is yes,  answer this – who or what were you really lashing out at?

Ms. Lewinsky was so deeply affected by her public thrashing that her parents were afraid she would end her life. Can you imagine living as she has for the last 17 years? I can’t.

What can you do to prevent others from being so affected by the cyber-bullying and intimidation that is going on day in and day out? She tells the story of another young man who committed suicide after a video of him went viral. A valuable life lost for no good reason but that someone thought it was funny to post this video on the internet. How sad is that?

Compassion is a primary message in this video and one that I hope you take some time to consider this week (and even longer if possible). Who can you say or write something compassionate to? It may actually counter many shameful words hurled at the recipient. See what you can do and how you can influence others into remembering that there is a person on the other end of the virtual “line”.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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