Monica Lewinsky on “The Price of Shame”
The lowdown: After her “inappropriate relationship” with President Bill Clinton when she was 22, Monica Lewinsky was crucified by the American media. She then stayed silent for a decade. Now, at 41, Lewinsky is using her voice to call for an end to cyberbullying, something that changed her life in an instant: “Overnight I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide,” she says. “I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously
The takeaways: Lewinsky draws direct lines from her own experience to those of others who have been the targets of humiliation. She cites the story of Tyler Clementi, a college student at Rutgers who committed suicide after his roommate recorded an intimate moment between him and another male student and invited others to watch it. For Lewinsky, trolling and online harassment come from the same place as online gossip, “because they all have humiliation at their cores.” In the video, she calls for an increase in empathy and compassion, challenging all of us to become “upstanders” rather than bystanders (i.e. posting positive comments to offset caustic ones and supporting efforts to end cyberbullying). And for all of those who are suffering from humiliation online, she says: “You can survive it . . . you can insist on a different ending to your story. Have compassion for yourself. We all deserve compassion.” We couldn’t agree more.