October is Cyberbullying Awareness month. But honestly, shouldn’t we be aware every month, every week, every day? We should, but we’re not. We’re not aware until we read another headline of someone tragically ending their life because of online harassment and bullying. I just watched a Ted Talk by Monica Lewinsky yesterday. Although it was from March of 2015, her points were just as applicable today. If you don’t know who Monica Lewinsky is, all you have to do is a quick Google search, and you can find a mountain of information on her and her past. As Monica explains in her talk, she was truly the first to experience ”losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously” because of the digital revolution. It seems that even back in 1998, when the scandal between Monica and then President Clinton was revealed, the public shaming that took place on the internet was horrendous. And that was before social media. Just imagine…well, you don’t have to. We see it all the time on social media. Someone makes a poor decision, does or says something they will later regret, only to find themselves permanently plastered all over social media. And it is permanent. There is no forgetting or erasing it. They will be reminded of it for the rest of their lives. Because with a simple search and a few clicks, just about anything can be found on the internet. This has me questioning…Why? Why are so many people in the world so callous and mean? Why are humans so quick to join in on the attack of another person by reposting or making hateful comments? Why are there not more people standing up against the hatefulness we see spewed online? Where are the Upstanders who are willing to say ENOUGH?! According to Ms. Lewinsky, we have created this culture…and much of it has to do with dollars. I firmly believe that some people post and comment online things they would never say otherwise because they have anonymity hiding behind their screens while others do it in order to be a part of a group. They get caught up in the “mob mentality” of it all. As Monica explained, we hear all the time about the right to freedom of expression, but what about the “RESPONSIBILITY to freedom of expression”? We need to “acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.” So we need an intervention, a “cultural revolution”, as Ms. Lewinsky called it back in 2015. And in my opinion, we need it even more today. While many of us may be thinking, “what can I do…I’m just one person,” let me leave you with a quote Monica shared by social psychologist, Serge Moscovic. “Even in small numbers, where there is consistency over time, change can happen.” I hope after reading this, you will choose to join me in that change. By posting encouraging comments, showing compassion and empathy toward others, and by choosing to offer words of hope instead of hate online, we can make a difference. Even in small numbers.
Neptune Navigate Blog
Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.