The Monica Lewinsky TED Talk Quotes To Live By
The Debrief: Monica, who was publically shamed around the world after a brief affair with then-US president Bill Clinton, has got some pretty good advice about cyberbullying...
Monica Lewinsky – who was propelled to infamy as an intern after having a sexual relationship with the then-US president President Clinton in 1996 – has given a TED talk.
In the years since the 1998 trial, which saw Monica at the centre of a political and legal storm, all of us have become potential victims of internet shaming, and most sensible people’s opinions of Monica have changed.
She put up with a lot of bullshit – the sort of shaming a guy would never get – and though we have no plans to fellate the leader of the free world any time soon, we can totally look up to Monica in the way she’s dealt with everything that’s been pelted at her. That’s why we’re bringing you some life lessons we got from her TED talk (no, we can’t see the video yet):
1. ‘Who didn’t make a mistake at 22?’
Monica started her talk with this: ‘At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss. At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences,’ she told the audience at the TED2015 stage And yeah, we did some pretty stupid things at 22. Things far stupider than Taylor Swift’s video for 22 could begin to depict.
2. Internet bullying happens to all sorts of people and it can have some terrible consequences (she didn’t say that, we did, but she meant it)
Monica said that she was only drawn to tackling cyber-bullying after seeing what happened to Tyler Clementi. He was a freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate set up a webcam in their room to secretly film him hooking up with a guy. The video had been doing the rounds at the university, people were harassing him and the shame caused Tyler to take his life.
‘Tyler’s tragic, senseless death was a turning point for me. It served to recontextualise 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.’
3. ‘Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop’
As ‘Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously’, Monica spoke about how social media shaming is ‘cyberbullying’ and how we all have a hand in stopping it from happening. She said: ‘Gossip websites, paparazzi, reality programming, politics news outlets and sometimes hackers traffic in shame.’
‘We are in a dangerous cycle: the more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it.’
The solution? That’s number four:
4. ‘We need to return to a long-held value of compassion and empathy’
Totally! Hacking people’s personal information and property to try and paint them as a horrible person, or to shame them – as happened to Monica when a friend leaked tapes of her speaking about the affair – happens way too much. From revenge porn to taking photos of strangers doing weird things and uploading them to ready-made social media accounts, in a digital age way too many people think it’s just a bit of fun to make someone famous for something YOU think they’re doing wrong.
5. ‘Empathy from one person can make a difference’
Monica said that she’s had some low moments and that it’s been those few supporters – even those she doesn’t know at all – who’ve helped her through. ‘I’ve seen some very dark days in my life. It was empathy and compassion from friends, family, coworkers, even strangers that saved me,’ she said.
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