Sunday, April 5, 2015
SHAMED TO DEATH: WEARING THE SCARLET LETTER IN TODAY'S VIRTUAL WORLD
Adultery, while a breach of the marriage contract, is not a legal matter anymore. It is not against the law to be punishable by prison time and social ostracization. But we are very naive if we believe that private decisions and actions/behaviors go unpunished in today's society. We are even more naive if we believe that sins like promiscuity or adultery do not face heavy social penalties despite the fact that they are not within arm's reach of the law.
If Hester Prynne were alive and real today, she may not have spent three months in a physical jail cell, but in many ways, I am sure it would have felt like that. There are no more town center platforms complete with hanging scaffolds and stocks, but social media has raised public humiliation to an all time new high and extended the critical stares and pointing fingers out and beyond the town walls.
So, while we may not be able to imagine living in a society that can legally have a person shunned and socially banned for scandalous decisions, the effect is ultimately the same: the one charged with the sin and convicted on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat is still left with a very clear message that he or she is social pariah.
In the following TED Talk, Monica Lewinsky, a woman all too familiar with living in the spotlight of technologically advanced shaming, shares a little bit of her personal story of what it is like to be branded with the scarlet A, and explains why she has chosen this time in her life to stand up and do something about it. The biggest message? The price of shame since Hester's time has escalated, and sometimes it is ultimately too high for the victim to pay. Watch the video and then comment on two things: what spoke to you the loudest and what YOU will personally do to change our shame culture today.
We live in interesting times. We feel more sophisticated, yet our own petty and cruel natures still surface in even more deadly ways. We feel more accepting of different beliefs and lifestyles, yet have the ability to smear a man's or woman's reputation irreparably with the click of the mouse. We shake our heads at racism, sexism, and discrimination and then turn to our friends and share malicious gossip about someone else, all the time telling ourselves, "I may make mistakes, but I would NEVER do what she did!" So, that begs the question then: what do we do?
Make sure your arsenals are full.