Does it sound outrageous? Probably, but not to people that have lost loved ones for fear of cyber-humiliation.

From the names of Megan Meier to Tyler Clementi to Amanda Todd, we add the recent suicide of Tovonna Holton with many others that have lost loved ones from being publicly shamed online. Although no one can in the medical field can say that suicide is linked to cyberbullying or cyber-shaming, these people were directly connected with their images going viral and couldn’t face the humiliation they were going to endure.

PEWQuoteIn these cases, and most of them, they are an invasion of privacy. Some of these people sent sexual images with the expectation of the photo only being shared with the one person. That is a major mistake for anyone. Even married couples that engage in sending sexual images to each other, keep in mind, what’s playful today could become e-venge tomorrow. The statistics for divorce  in a first marriage is 40% while for second marriages, is 60%. Your online reputation lives forever.

Some people are being videotaped without their permission — and it goes viral in the cruelest ways possible, with the intent to embarrass someone. What some may believe is a practical joke, ends up being a deadly nightmare. With apps like SnapChat, people mistakenly assume it disappears after a viewing or two. There are no ‘take-backs’ online – not even on SnapChat — sadly as  Tovonna Holton feared and her family is now grieving over.

What people also have to remember is this is not a technology, this is not about SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your smartphone – it’s about human behavior. It’s about understanding why people feel the need to embarrass, insult, humiliate and downright hurt and harm others. Use their keypad as a lethal weapon — where has our empathy gone in our world?  It’s not only about the person that posted it – it’s about the people that are sharing it. The people that are not stepping up and helping to put a stop to it – or reaching out to the victim and letting that person know — you are there for them, and recognizing this behavior isn’t right, but you are there for them no matter what.

Cyber-shaming, since it’s human behavior, will probably not end soon, so it’s imperative that everyone does their part in reaching out to a person online if you recognize they are in distress. If you see a comment or image that is embarrassing to them, contact them, do what you can to help them emotionally and possibly help them get it down. Humanize yourself — imagine it was you, you’d be grateful for the cyber-support.

We need to start turning around our shame nation culture – and be a part of the solution.