International Bullying Prevention Association

Why I Believe That Monica Lewinsky’s Message Will Fuel Constructive and Collaborative Conference Conversation

Why I Believe That Monica Lewinsky’s Message Will Fuel Constructive and Collaborative Conference Conversation

By: Nicolette G. Granata

Monica Lewinsky is one of two keynote speakers at this year’s IBPA national conference in San Diego, CA. In 2015, Monica Lewinsky confidently and courageously took the stage to deliver a TED talk entitled “The price of shame.”  Before I actively listened to the talk, I didn’t realize just how effectively Monica’s message ties together the diverse set of topics and expertise lined up for this year’s conference . I’ve collected some of my “lightbulb moments” from viewing the talk below so that you can see why Monica’s keynote is not one to miss.

“I was seen by many, but actually known, by few…” – Monica Lewinsky, 2015.

Even though this quote came early on in Monica’s talk, it is the one that stuck with me the longest. Perhaps because it takes me to those auditorium seats at the start of the talk… to the couches of the viewers at home. The viewers – with their quiet exteriors sheltering whirling interiors that seem to say, “But I’ve seen you enough to know you…right? Isn’t that how it works?” I reflect on how unnervingly salient this feeling, this assumption, seems to be to me in today’s technology-driven world. Can you recall a time you felt this way, too?

“When this happened to me, 17 years ago, there was no name for it. Now, we call it “cyberbullying” and “online harassment.” – Monica Lewinsky, 2015.

“There was no name for it…” In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Education released a report in which a uniform definition of bullying was created for the first time with the hope of improving consistency within bullying response and prevention. It tackled how bullying was perceived by the general public… a “right of passage” becoming a “complex and widespread public health issue” (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, 2014). In understanding the tangible, evidence-based impact of a definition, even just a ‘name’ for an occurrence, I feel we can better empathize with the powerlessness felt by Monica and others living without one.

“We need to return to a long-held value of compassion…compassion and empathy. Online we have a compassion-deficit, an empathy crisis. Just imagine walking a mile…in someone else’s headline” – Monica Lewinsky, 2015.

“A compassion-deficit, an empathy crisis…” A crisis indeed, with a “2011 meta-analysis of 72 studies on empathy conducted on college-age students from 1972 to 2009 indicating a decline in empathy of 40% in that time period” (Dolby, 2014) Rather than being discouraged by this trend, I see hope in the dialogue and collaboration it encourages – rather – requires, to be tackled. Our San Diego Conference will hold the empathy experts, the compassion scientists, and the cyberbullying investigators all in the same unified space. And I believe that Monica Lewinsky’s message is just what we need to ignite this immense wealth of knowledge towards new, undiscovered solutions. Solutions…though unique, that are crafted under the same, overarching vision of “A World Without Bullying.”

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