Monica Lewinsky addressing the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, PA.

Forbes Under 30 Summit

In a speech given at the Forbes Under 30 Summit Monday entitled “Monica Lewinsky and the Internet’s Reputation Shredder,” Monica Lewinsky announced her intent to draw attention to the “compassion deficit” and “empathy crisis” that have arisen from the way people are treated on the Internet. Over the course of her 25-minute address, Lewinsky recapped her own treatment online following her affair with President Clinton and how it is linked to modern online abuse.
News of her affair was first posted to the Drudge Report in 1998, and Lewinsky called herself “Patient Zero” for having her reputation “destroyed on the Internet.” Lewinsky recounted how, among the news articles, comments, and e-mails traded at the time of the scandal, “there was a rotation of worsening name calling… people referring to me as tramp, slut, whore, tart, bimbo, floozy.” She said repeatedly that at the time of the scandal, she wished she could die, and she namechecked a number of musical artists who now use her name as shorthand for sexual indiscretion.
But worse than the damaging language was its limitless potential for circulation, Lewinsky said. “The experience of shame and humiliation online is different than offline. There is no way to wrap your mind around where the humiliation ends. There are no borders. It honestly feels like the whole world is laughing at you.” She tied the inner workings of online abuse to Tyler Clementi, an 18-year old student who committed suicide after his roommate covertly filmed and posted video of Clementi kissing another man.
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