Monica Lewinsky Introduces #BeStrong Emojis to Show Solidarity Against Cyberbullying
After a lengthy and understandable internet hiatus, Monica Lewinsky has recently become a vocal advocate against cyberbullying and online abuse. Since she was one of the first to endure a widespread internet harassment campaign, she remains uniquely positioned to speak out about the effect it can have. Over at Vanity Fair, Lewinsky has just unveiled a set of emojis she helped Vodafone to design in honor of World Safer Internet Day, which is tomorrow (February 9th).
Lewinsky hopes that these emojis will help people reach out when they see someone getting harassed online:
In today’s world, particularly online and especially for younger people, support—knowing you are not alone—is vital and can even save lives.
Last year a survey of 5,000 teens from around the world revealed that young people often struggle to find the right words to use when a friend has been cyberbullied. Of those surveyed, 20 percent admitted to having been bullied online themselves, and twice that number said they had had friends who had been harassed … we conceived an emoji as a way to communicate support in a bullying situation.
Does this sound familiar? It did to me, too — a very similar campaign called I Am A Witness came out last year, featuring an eye-shaped emoji. There’s certainly room for both campaigns, of course. The Witness emoji feels a bit more formal, whereas Lewinsky’s new emojis feel much more personal. Either way, you’re still sending a message to someone who feels isolated and could use a friendly notification rather than another negative one. It’s a small gesture, but it’s not nothing.
I like this emoji campaign because it’s simple and straightforward. But I also think it’s also worth highlighting the need for more comprehensive solution-seeking on the part of institutions that harbor harassers. Social media networks need to look more closely at how the viral memeifying of abuse ends up making their services terrifying and unusable for an unwitting target. A kind word (and an emoji or tw0) can go a long way during a dark time — but what we need is long-lasting institutional change, as I’m sure any of these anti-cyberbullying advocates would agree. Perhaps that’s something we can all address tomorrow on World Safer Internet Day, hm?
(via Vanity Fair)
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