Friday, April 8, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Monica Lewinsky

I never thought I would say that I learned something from Monica Lewinsky, but I did just that when I watched a TedTalk video and then noticed her video in the sidebar. "The Price of Shame" was the title that intrigued me and made me click.

Of course we all remember the shameful situation she is famous for. She had an affair with President Clinton when she was twenty-two years old. It has been about twenty years since then. I haven't really thought much about her in all those years, but if I did have any opinion of her, it was definitely negative. I was surprised to find her articulate, honest, and humble in her TedTalk. She pointed out how many people have done things that they later regret when they are 22 years old. She just had the misfortune of having her foolish (and sinful, I know) behavior broadcast on the internet for the whole world to see and criticize.

I was left with a greater appreciation for this infamous woman as she encouraged people to show greater empathy, especially those on the internet. She told about how upset her mother was when she found out about the suicide of Tyler Clementi after his roommate videotaped him kissing another man. Monica realized that her mother was reliving the days following her own shameful situation, days when she sat by Monica's bed at night and made her shower with the door open because she was afraid of what she might do to herself. Shame is a very difficult emotion to overcome, especially when so many people express their opinions on the internet with hardly a thought about the person they are criticizing or ridiculing.

She urged people to leave a kind word for someone who is going through a shameful experience. It can make all the difference for someone who is barraged by tons of negative opinions and comments. 

I've thought often about Monica Lewinsky in the days since I watched her talk. I take note of how the internet seems to be a place where so many people spout off about their negative views of other people. It's obvious that as a society, too many of us don't think about the feelings of others. Even when we don't agree with someone's actions or opinions, we can still be kind. We can remember that people have feelings. We can try to treat them as we would want to be treated if we made a terrible mistake or committed some atrocious crime and later were sorry for it. 

I'm glad Monica Lewinsky was able to survive her shameful experience and I hope that her message is spread far and wide in this world of cyberbullying. As Christians, let's set an example in how we act on the internet. Let's speak up for truth, but never forget that people need kindness and understanding more than a ruthless, insensitive comment. Let's leave many loving comments for those who are overwhelmed by the negative attention their situation attracts. It just may save a life. 

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

Have you noticed how people seem to comment without considering the feelings of the person they're attacking? How can focusing on God help us to find something to be kind and positive about as we comment on the internet?

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