The Price of Shame
Describing herself as ‘patient zero’ in the new era of public shaming, Lewinsky offers some interesting and thoughtful insights on the nature of shame. Lewinsky painfully recalls how having to listen to recordings of her private conversations made her feel ‘deeply, deeply ashamed’ and the way in which ‘online technologically enhanced shaming is amplified, uncontained and permanently accessible.’ Lewinsky’s public shaming occurred early in the life of the internet, but before the advent of social media, and social media is creating an industry of shame, driven not least by money: ‘The more shame, the more clicks, the more clicks, the more advertising revenue.’
Lewinsky’s conclusion is that we need to decide for compassion rather than shame: ‘Shame cannot survive empathy.’ While it would be easy to quibble with some of Lewinsky’s analysis, this insight again chimes closely with what the gospel offers us. After all, Jesus is the great high priest, able to sympathise with our weakness and truly compassionate towards us. If our shame is to be covered over we need to come to this priest who not only empathises with us but is empowered to heal us. Shame need not have the final word.