Washington: Seeking to launch a “Cultural Revolution” against the online harassment, former US White House intern Monica Lewinsky recounted how she was publicly shamed for falling in love with her boss.
Lewinsky, notorious for her past affair with former US President Bill Clinton, was speaking in her first public address at Forbes’ Under-30 Summit in Philadelphia in connection with cyberbullying.
The much-hyped 1998 sex scandal involving Lewinsky and Bill Clinton had created much furore after her story was broke by a website.
Lewinsky narrated how she was the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet as overnight she went from being a “completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one”.
“I was patient zero,” she added.
Speaking to a thousand-strong crowd at the Forbes summit, Lewinsky added how after the scandal was reported, the pre-dominant thought in her mind was “I want to die”.
“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then.. But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded,” Forbes quoted her as saying.
She also mentioned the case ofthe suicide of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student, who ended his life in humiliation after his video of kissing another man went public.
She said she could well empathise with such victims of internet shaming and now she wanted to put “her suffering to good use and give purpose to my past.”
“That tragedy is one of the principal reasons I am standing up here today,” said Lewinsky.
She explained how her mother was “unusually upset” as for it was like reliving 1998, “back to a time when I was periodically suicidal; when she might very easily have lost me”.
Earlier in May too, Lewinsky had poured her heart out, making her confessions and complaints in an article in that month’s issue of Vanity Fair magazine.
In that article, she had urged people to stop tiptoeing around her past as it was high time “to bury the hatchet”.