“Imagine walking a mile in someone else’s headlines.”
For over 20 years, Monica Lewinsky has been branded worldwide by Internet “stone throwers.” That is what she calls those who continually and relentlessly publicly humiliate her about something that happened when she was 22. A lot of us have done what she did. Only for the rest of us, it may not have been plastered throughout the 24-hour news cycle or joked about on every television comedy hour and stand-up routine.
At age 25/26, I had an affair with my married boss that lasted over a year. I was fresh out of a divorce, in a new job and city, and was about a year into my singlehood. Unlike Lewinsky, I don’t think I was in love with him. I might have been 22, when I married the first man I met after a volatile courtship that became only more capricious after the ceremony. I sewed my oats, big time, once the Decree Absolute was served. I was unabashedly brazen for at least 20 years.
When you look at Lewinsky’s story in context, now that you know better and are not being influenced by the late-night comics and the pundit news media that gets its advertising dollars from piling on someone’s misfortune and shame, you see just how tragic it is.
I remember when her nightmare started. It didn’t sit right with me that it was her so-called friend, a confidant, who secretly recorded their private conversations and shared them with the world. I needed a shower after just hearing that. There can be no greater betrayal. I’m fortunate that a lot of my escapades were done before the Internet. However, who knows if someone had some sort of recording device or secret pictures that are now circulating on the deep web.
A lot of people can relate to Lewinsky’s Internet experience. Just ask anyone who has been cyberbullied, who have had their personal reputation disparaged by a dedicated web page or had their private moments and words shared publicly without permission and without context.
Kudos to Lewinsky for finding her voice. She has become my personal hero as a result. Her message is clear and echos what I have been working on for the past couple of years: clean up the Internet one post at a time. How you do that is a) post positively and b) report bullying.