Monica Lewinsky and the price of shame

Monica Lewisnky gave a TED talk recently on the price of shame, and it’s one of the best TED talks I’ve ever heard.

Her’s is a name that will always conjure up a mixed bag of emotions, and she knows it. Say what you will about her, but very few people have had to live out their mistakes as publicly as she has.

To me, that makes her now very public stand against cyber-bullying all the more impressive. In standing up against cyber-bullying, she is also standing up for mental health. She addresses the issue of how, especially among the young, the increase in online bullying has also led to an increase in suicides and suicidal ideations.

But to me, there’s also a more subtle, if no less important, way that she addresses mental health awareness here. She talks a lot about the need for empathy, and I couldn’t agree more. There’s a big difference between empathy and sympathy. When I tell people of my own mental health issues, I notice that it’s easier for many to project sympathy than empathy. But the thing is, I’m not looking for sympathy. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. Who does?

But I do want empathy. I do want people to at least make an attempt to put themselves in my place. To tell me that they are there for me no matter what. I’ve noticed how hard this is for a lot of people, and I think it’s indicative of an unfortunate lack of empathy that is due, in large part, to the Internet. Of course, if I want empathy from others, I also must become more aware of how I project it myself. I like to think that I’m good at it. Now, though, I’m thinking that I could do better.

So, when Monica Lewinsky talks about the need for empathy here, she is speaking for people like myself. I applaud her, both for this amazing TED talk, and for taking a stand. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

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