Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on 'Really' Checking in on Others Right Now

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on 'Really' Checking in on Others Right Now

10/21/2020

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are continuing the conversation about creating safe and more equitable online communities.

The couple hosted a special edition of TIME100 Talks on Tuesday, exploring the topic of "Engineering a Better World" with their guests, including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (who happens to be married to Meghan's pal Serena Williams!) and the hosts of Teenager Therapy, the podcast they recently appeared on to celebrate World Mental Health Day.

TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal kicked the episode off by asking the couple how they were doing amid the coronavirus pandemic, to which Harry commented on how that question has changed its meaning in recent months.

"I think when people ask, 'How are you?' I sense, you know, it's a case of 'Really, how are you?' Before this year, I think everyone sort of throws that term around and everyone's satisfied with a 'Yeah, I'm good. I'm fine, thanks.' And then it's moving on to something else," Harry said. "But I think you're quite right. This year, more so than ever, it really is a question of 'No, no, no. Actually, how are you?' "

Meghan added that they were cherishing the time to watch their 1-year-old son, Archie, grow up.

"All things considered, everyone is grappling with a different version of the same thing," she said. "For us, we're trying to embrace all of the quality time we get with our son right now and to not miss a single moment of his growth and development, which has been really special."

Meghan spoke about how complex social media and the online world really is.

"It can feel really overwhelming to try to understand all the nuance of what happens online. It is all-encompassing and it affects us at a multi-faceted level," she said. "And so we started with professors and experts in the field, with defectors from some of the largest platforms, neurologists — people to really help us view it through a holistic approach. And in that there have been relationships, and now friendships, that we have formed with a lot of these people who have a shared goal of wanting to make this space healthier and better for all of us."

Harry added, "What is happening in the online world is affecting the world. It is not restricted to certain platforms or certain social media conversations or groups. This is a global crisis—a global crisis of hate, a global crisis of misinformation, and a global health crisis."

Meghan, 39, and Prince Harry, 36, were involved in developing the theme, selecting guests and brainstorming topics for this edition of TIME100 Talks.

Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa, Center for Humane Technology president and co-founder Tristan Harris (who recently appeared in the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma), activist and founder of The Loveland Foundation Rachel Cargle, author and co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry Safiya U. Noble, disinformation researcher Renée DiResta and Somewhere Good founder Naj Austin also took part in the conversation.

In recent months, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have spoken about the potentially negative impact of social media, including their appearance on the Teenager Therapy podcast when Meghan spoke about being the "most trolled person in the entire world" in 2019.

"Now, 8 months of that I wasn’t even visible — I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to be manufactured and churned out, it’s almost unsurvivable," she said.

Meghan also took part in another virtual chat with Fortune for its "Most Powerful Next Gen Summit," where she said she's avoided social media in recent years.

"For my own self-preservation, I have not been on social media for a very long time," she shared. "I had a personal account years ago, which I closed down and then we had one through the institution and our office that was in the U.K. that wasn’t managed by us —that was a whole team — and so I think that comes with the territory for the job you have."

"I’ve made a personal choice to not have any account, so I don’t know what’s out there, and many ways that’s helpful for me," she added. "I have a lot of concerns for people that have become obsessed with it. And it is so much a part of our daily culture for so many people that it’s an addiction like many others. There are very few things in this world where you call the person who is engaging with it a user."

TIME's series of virtual conversations has previously included famous faces such as Angelina Jolie, Elton John, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Meghan and Harry were named as TIME's most influential people of 2018. (Meghan also made the shortlist for TIME's annual Person of the Year in 2018.) And last year, TIME recognized the couple in their roundup of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.

Last month, the couple made their first primetime TV appearance to celebrate TIME magazine's 2020 list of the world’s most influential people.

"We're six weeks out from the election, and today is Voter Registration Day," Meghan said on the special. "Every four years, we're told, 'This is the most important election of our lifetime.' But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard."

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Harry also made a nonpartisan appeal for how people engage with each other online in the run-up to the November 3 general election.

"As we approach this November, it's vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity," he said. "What we consume, what we are exposed to, and what we engage with online, has a real effect on all of us."

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