There is no denying that we live in a digital age. It has become interwoven into our lives. Some would say it gives us life and we give it life. This week for ecmp 355, we discussed our digital citizenship and our identity. There are so many positives to having and subscribing to digital citizenship. It can help us make connections, meet people, find new information and bring our world a little bit closer. There is a darker side to it, that I feel everyone knows and to some extent has experienced. It can be in the forms of cyber-bullying, public shaming, cyber-stalking and the list can go on. People get catfished, scammed, and hacked all the time. In this age of information, the information is no longer on subjects but of everyday people.
Our class was asked to watch at least two videos of the 5 posted. I chose to watch Monica Lewinsky’s Ted talk and the fifth estates episode on Amanda Todd. Both these stories involve vulnerable people, who made mistakes, and were punished severely for them. Both instances, they tried to take back there narrative but both had different outcomes.
In Monica Lewinsky’s well spoken speech for her TED talk, she says that she was ground zero for the internet shame game. Her story was one of the first stories in which the internet superseded the regular news mediums (TV, radio, newspaper). It was all over the news and internet.
She could not escape it. I looked for more information of this scandal after watching the video. I was only 8 when this all was going on. I remember her for sure and that she was with the President Bill Clinton, but that was it. From what I have gathered, Monica was a 22 year old intern who had numerous encounters over a few months with the President Bill Clinton who was 49 at the time. Clinton was involved in another case concerning Paula Jones, where she accused him of sexual harassment. While that case was going on, there had been word of this affair between Clinton and Lewinsky. He fervently denied it and so did Lewinsky. Lewinsky signed an affidavit stating now relations happened with them. Clinton testified they had no relations. Then little did they know, Lewinsky’s coworker, whom she had disclosed the affair to, was recording their phone calls and advising her to keep gifts and certain clothes. Thus when these phone calls came to light, so did the scandal.
After watching her speech and then reading up on her, I was saddened. I could not imagine being a 24 year old and having the whole world shame you, label you and blame you for something that was done with another person. What she did was wrong, he was married and that is not right to be with someone who is. What he did was wrong as he was married. Both people were in the wrong. In regular life this is just a scandal, but it usually blows over in a few years and people forget and accept what happened. This was not the case for Monica. This left a definitive trail, following her everywhere. No escape. Her name is part of a scandal for crying out loud. It is not known as the Bill Clinton scandal. Some people may look at her actions afterwards, appearing for interviews, starting a hand bag line, etc. as reaping rewards. But she had major legal fees and needed someway to pay them. After the firestorm calmed down and she tried to move on, places would not hire her because of the story attached to her name. A few years ago, she decided to take back her narrative and use her story to inform people of the humiliation and shame that can happen because of the internet. She acknowledges her actions, but the world will never let her forget.
In the case of Amanda Todd, she made one mistake, one that was only a few seconds and it took her life. I related a lot to this story line. I was once an adolescent girl, cruising the internet and exploring its depths. Being from a small town, I craved connections with the world. I wanted to meet with different people and connect with them. I remember finding chatrooms and talking with complete strangers. On quite a few instances, my friends and I would encounter some inappropriate conversation. When I was older, my family got a webcam but I thankfully only used it to chat with my good friends. My internet connection was dial up and slow, so it was hard to do anything, definitely not what you can do today. So when I read and hear that Amanda was posting singing videos and was webcamming live, I can completely relate. What scares me is that I might have done the same as her. In that moment that she flashed her webcam, I bet she felt silly and daring. Think of the people that flash and moon randomly in real life! My friends and I have mooned people on occasion for fun and laughs. I would have been mortified if someone would have caught that on camera and used it to hurt me.
Amanda was so brave to make that one video that changed the world. Although that video ultimately could not help her, it was like her last gift to the world, telling the world to wake up and realize what is going on. This video helps bring this issue to the forefront of people’s minds and it might help someone going through the same thing.
Her story breaks my heart. I searched and found out that a Dutch man who is responsible for her black mail and bullying is being charged and I am glad they were able to do something. I hope he gets what he deserves because Amanda definitely did not deserve her ending.