Monica Lewinsky breaks silence in talk calling for a 'compassionate internet'
by Helen Mackreath
VANCOUVERMar 20, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Helen Mackreath
Mar 20, 2015 12:00 am
Monica Lewinsky, who famously had an affair with President Bill Clinton while he was in office at the White House, has taken to the stage to call for a more compassionate internet.
The former White House intern's affair was one of the first major stories to break online when it was made public in 1998 and, during her speech at the Ted (Technology, Enterntainment and Design) conference, she described herself as one of the first victims of cyberbullying.
"At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss [President Bill Clinton]," Ms. Lewinsky told the audience of 1,400. "And at the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences."
She went on to describe how, practically overnight, she went from being a "a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one."
Although there was no social media in 1998 as we know it today, images of Ms Lewinsky famously wearing a black beret quickly went viral online as did comments posted in response to online articles while jokes based on the details of her affair were emailed around the world.
Today, said Ms. Lewinsky, that reality of the Internet magnification of humiliation is even more common. We are living, she said, in a place where humiliation has become a "commodity."
"There is a very personal price to public humiliation," she said. "And the growth of the Internet has jacked up that price."
It is only the second time Ms Lewinsky has spoken publicly since disappearing from the public eye in 2005. In October she spoke at Forbes' Under 30 Summit.
She ended her talk by explaining why she had decided to speak out after a decade of silence.
"It was time to stop tip-toeing around my past, it was time to take back my narrative and let others know that you can survive it."