If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about online harassment, it’s Monica Lewinsky. She’s been standing strong in the face of harassment and speaking out against “public shaming as a blood sport” for years and now, as part of Safer Internet Day, she wants to provide a way to make it easier to support others who are doing the same with her own set of emojis.
Working with Vodafone, Monica has developed the #BeStrong emoji Keyboard app which is intended to allow people to show non-verbal support for victims of cyberbullying, featuring colourful images of solidarity.
In an article on Vanity Fair, Lewinsky explained the idea behind the emoji keyboard:
“Thousands of people are bullied online — daily. For World Safer Internet Day on February 9, it’s worth considering not only the many ways people can feel unsafe online but also new methods to help limit abusive behavior — or, at least, to blunt the emotional fallout.
Support—whether it’s from friends or strangers—matters. Trust me on this. In today’s world, particularly online and especially for younger people, support—knowing you are not alone—is vital and can even save lives.”
Emojis are a system of communication often dismissed by some who consider them meaningless or annoying but we think these are important. Often when you see a friend, or even a complete stranger, online go through a difficult time it can be hard to find the right words to express your support for them, and you could spend hours agonising over a simple sentence at a time when they urgently need emotional consolation. It’s easy to say things like “don’t listen to them” or “don’t reply” when you aren’t the one receiving the endless negativity; eventually it wears even the strongest person down and sometimes rather than advice, they just want support.
This emoji keyboard provides people with a quick and direct way to send a message of solidarity, using designs that have a sense of personal comfort about them. It’s a small thing, but for someone who feels isolated and is drowning in negativity, a single positive notification could be a life raft.
Of course, this isn’t a solution to the wider problem of online harassment. A solution will have to come from efforts made by the social media networks themselves and a widespread institutional change. But it’s something positive at the very least and there’s no better time to have a serious discussion about the future of internet safety than Internet Safety day, is there?
The #BeStrong emoji keyboard is available for download now from iTunes and is coming soon to Google Play.
Via Vanity Fair