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Meghan Markle On “Toxicity” Of Social Media: “We’ve Forgotten About Our Humanity” – SXSW

In a last minute SXSW keynote panel added in time for International Women’s Day, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, spoke about how social media is having a negative impact on women.

“Even if it’s making dollars, it doesn’t make sense,” said the former Suits star during the Breaking Barriers, Shaping Narratives: How Women Lead On and Off the Screen panel.

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Katie Couric, also on the panel, cited stats that social media’s impact on young women is on par with binge drinking in terms of spikes in suicide rates. “We have a real crisis on our hands here,” said the former Today Show and CBS Evening News anchor.

“The toxicity that comes at you, yes, social media is an environment that has a lot of that,” said Markle.

The Duchess told the packed Austin Convention Center auditorium that she handles the negative social media that’s thrown at her by keeping her distance from it. Markle said that she was bombarded the most when she was pregnant with children Archie and Lily. It baffled Markle how “catty and cruel” people can be.

“But we also created these habits — what I find to be the most distributing is how much of the hate are women spewing that to other women. I can’t make sense of that,” she continued.

“Reading something terrible about a woman, why are you sharing it with your friends?,” the Duchess continued. “That’s the piece that’s so lost right now. We’ve forgotten about our humanity.”

Markle noted how the SXSW panel is being streamed on YouTube without name checking the portal.

“Everyone can hear the brilliance of this platform, but it also has hate and rhetoric. (The platform) incentivizes people to create pages to turn out comments and conspiracy theories that have a tremendous effect on mental health and safety.”

Markle said that “the systematic change has to come at the same time as the cultural change.” The Duchess said that while there are a lot of female executives in power positions, they’re “allowing this behavior to run rampant. They have to put the ‘Dos’ behind the ‘Says.'” That said, she did give a shoutout to Netflix Chief of Content Bela Bajaria as one executive who is making changes with content that’s showing improved representation for women and more diverse faces.

The session today was presented by Markle’s The Archewell Foundation and The 19th, the national nonprofit newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

Also appearing on the panel that was moderated by 19th Editor-at-Large Errin Haines were Brooke Shields and sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen.

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