Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, entitled “The Price of Shame“, during which she discusses her own experience with a very public episode of cyber-bullying and the negative and overwhelming power of digital media, begins like this:
“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss, and at the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences.
Can I see a show of hands of anyone here who didn’t make a mistake or do something they regretted at 22? Yep. That’s what I thought. So like me, at 22, a few of you may have also taken wrong turns and fallen in love with the wrong person,maybe even your boss. Unlike me, though, your boss probably wasn’t the president of the United States of America. Of course, life is full of surprises.”
Since becoming a household name in 1998 for having an affair with former president Bill Clinton, Lewinsky has kept a relatively low profile for the past decade. Until earlier this year when Monica Lewinsky delivered a talk at TED2015 in Vancouver titled “The Price Of Shame.”
Now 41, Lewinsky described the impact the Internet had on her story. “This scandal was brought to you by the digital revolution,” she said. “It was the first time traditional news was usurped by the Internet, a click that reverberated around the whole world… Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide.”
As the subject of one of the first major “scandals” to play out over the Internet,Lewinsky discussed the powerful effects of online harassment. “When this happened to me, 17 years ago, there was no name for it,” she told the audience: “Now we call it cyber-bullying.”Lewinsky cited Tyler Clementi, a New Jersey college student who committed suicide in 2010 after being cyber-bullied for being gay. “Tyler’s tragic, senseless death was a turning point for me,” Lewinsky said. “It served to re-contextualize my experiences. I began to look at the world of humiliation and bullying around me and see something different… Every day online, people — especially young people who are not developmentally equipped to handle this — are so abused and humiliated that they can’t imagine living to the next day.”
“Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop,” she continued. “…Just imagine walking a mile in someone else’s headline.”
Watch the powerful talk below: