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Monica Lewinsky: Confronting Cyberbullying and Shame

August 2, 2015

The-forthcoming-Vanity-Fair-article-by-Monica-Lewinsky-Shame-and-Survival

Below is a video by Monica Lewinski dealing with the price of shame and how the Internet has taken what was typically played out in a smaller community or in the news; something that, once upon a time, was here today gone tomorrow. But, with the advent of the Internet, is now publicized worldwide and kept around for the tormenting amusement of others forever. Lewinsky also talks about the big business of getting headlines and advertising dollars at the expense of others and seeks to help people think differently about it in hopes of bringing about change.

That will only happen when people stop tolerating it. But when we, ourselves, are suffering from shame, what often feels good to us is witnessing others going through the same thing, so we click on the articles/videos/images and immediately give cyberbullying more power by reinforcing it through the dollars it gains by those who promoted it. That makes us a part of the problem. What’s worse, it dulls our heart and makes us more capable of hurting others.

After watching Lewinski’s video, below, don’t forget to read the rest of this article to find out how and why it is important for all of us to change our actions as well as our attitudes and choices regarding cyberbullying.

As readers of my blog know, the toxic shame that humiliation brings to the identity creates a condition known to psychologists, sociologists, and ministers as “soul murder.” That is what numbs people and makes their “love grow cold” as Jesus predicted would happen to people as time grew closer to His return. It dehumanizes us. The buried pain of toxic false shame creates a wall around the heart that makes young people and adults capable of atrocious criminal and socially harmful acts. When one is under threat, one has a tendency to strike back at others in their effort to survive.

Did you know that our participation in cyberbullying or online shaming isn’t really that much different than our going out and shooting someone, morally speaking? Revenge for humiliation often involves murder. Well, relishing in the shame and humiliation of another is giving power to the murder of someone’s soul, as if we, ourselves, were pulling the trigger. This is why Jesus said having the thought of an adulterous act or of murdering someone isn’t any different in God’s eyes than doing it ourselves. That is because it distorts our souls when we do.

One way to stop doing something is to understand why we do it in the first place. For the same reason we choose to watch movies that show the good guy winning against the bad guy. We have suffered humiliation, shame, and betrayal so, many times, it feels good to us to watch others suffer like we have. But the thing is, we, as individuals and as a society, will not be judged by how we treated those who are rich, popular, beautiful, and powerful. We will be judged by how we treated the poor, the destitute, the needy, the infirm, and yes, even the sinner/prisoner.

Did Monica Lewinsky sin? Yes. Most certainly. She sinned against the family of President Clinton. But she is a human being. As they say, “But for the grace of God go I;” meaning, any one of us could end up in her shoes at some point in time. I can’t tell you how many judgmental people I have watched eventually lose their heads and fall into great sin… and do under the scornful eye of the public. Like on the movie, Chocolat, they are usually upstanding citizens who lived their lives pointing the finger at others. People especially love to see this happen to preachers, don’t they? It sells a lot of advertisements. What does that say about them?

The readers of this blog know that the soul murder caused by toxic shame can drive religious people to become “holier than thou.” This is the primary thing I address in this blog and in my book Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing. But self-righteousness did not originate with religion, but with the wounds to our hearts. So it is not the exclusive property of those in the Church.

Pride and self-righteousness is what we all do when we want to justify our existence; to restore a sense of dignity and value after having those things (and more) ripped away from us. As you may know, there are two kinds of shame, one is healthy and one is toxic. The healthy form of shame involves a behavior, choice, or action. The toxic form of shame is perceived or taken on as an identity. Both come from a feeling of exposure. The toxic form usually involves the exposure of our vulnerability, of who we are; whereas the healthy form comes from the exposure of our poor choices.

Whether that may have come from , teasing, bullying, and harsh criticism from the people that matter or from those who made that information available to them, often through betrayal, as was the case in Lewinsky’s case; the effect is devastating and quite often ends in the suicide of the individual.

The apostle, Peter, said, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8). Does that mean we don’t deal with sin? No. But we do need to preserve human dignity in the process.

There is something basic to humanity that we have forgotten how to do. When we do something wrong, we acknowledge it and try to make it right. Then we forgive and let the offender grow from the experience.

What matters about wrong doing isn’t that you have broken some sort of rules, but that you have harmed someone. When you harm someone you create needs. We have an obligation to try to make it right the best that we can. Name the wrongs done. Address the harms that resulted from them. Take responsibility the best we can. And make amends.

All human experiences should be redemptive in nature. We are all here to grow and transform. The Native Americans say, we were born to learn how to “become human.” I like that. I believe it is true. God made humanity in His Image, which is Love. We came to learn how to love. But sadly, many hearts are born among very shaming environments. This should not be tolerated. It creates cold, and inhuman hearts subject to doing harm to others. Our society has become that sort of environment and only you and I have the power to change it.

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the previous and following statements on any distributed copy:

By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 21, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos may not be owned by author).

**Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to serve as medical advice. If you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, you need to seek the counsel of a certified mental health worker. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

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