Maintaining humanity on the internet

Hi friends. I’m posting here an article written by Monica Lewinsky, published in Vanity Fair. My sister first sent it to me, and what my sister wrote in her email resonated with me:

I thought this article was very well written. I honestly haven’t thought much about Monica Lewinsky for many years. She’s just become a part of the 90s cultural canvas that served as the background for my life. Like Clark Howard’s voice, she’s just another name from my childhood. I obviously knew the story in broad strokes (some kind of affair, president got in trouble), but I didn’t understand the wider implications of the scandal at the time. It’s really interesting now to be able to read this, and with a feminist perspective, ask, “Where were her defenders?” I mean, she was only 20 years old at the time. I didn’t even realize that she was that young when the scandal broke. When I was a kid, 20 years old seemed like millions of years away. Now I realize how young that really is. But even though the relationship was consensual, the issue she really tries to combat is this culture of humiliation that has grown around our use of the internet. I can’t imagine going through what she went through, and becoming the butt of every joke. The parallels between her situation and Tyler Clementi’s are terrifying. It’s so easy to forget that at the other end of the line there is a human being with a life, with personality, and with feelings.

-Email from Mishy

By watching, reading, and re-posting shame-based stories (which can disguise themselves as jokes), we contribute to the public humiliation and shaming of a HUMAN BEING. The consequences of our online actions, even if they consist only of watching and reposting can be devastating. Use the internet with the consciousness that there is another human being at the other end of the screen–you interact with and have a real influence on a being, not just a screen.

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