Monica Lewinsky Wants to Take Down Cyberbullying – Kveller
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Monica Lewinsky Wants to Take Down Cyberbullying

Monica Lewinsky is the perfect example of a woman who has been cyber-bullied. Despite being a columnist, entrepreneur, social psychologist, and activist, she has never been able to truly shake the humiliation she experienced 20 years ago because of her affair with President Bill Clinton when she was an intern–as if a man’s mistake is her fault, as if the fact that he was an older man with extraordinary power didn’t influence her choices.

Being bullied in person is bad enough–it’s a devastating act that leaves you insecure and feeling small. Being bullied online, however, is in some ways even more insidious, because people who don’t even know you suddenly have access to your shame and humiliation–parts of your private life are fodder for strangers. As Lewinsky put it herself, it’s “a stab in the gut. A punch. Someone hammering you on the head.”

This is why Lewinsky is an activist against cyber-bullying–because it can ruin lives and wreck careers. This month is Bullying Prevention Month, which is why she’s launching a new campaign called In Real Life–which she talked to Glamour about.

It’s not a surprise to see that Lewinsky is a master at dealing with criticism, judgment, and bullying. Considering she’s been in the public eye since 1998, she’s something of an expert.

She explained what it’s like, saying:

“The most damaging part is how incredibly isolating it can be. Social ostracizing is at the core of what we all, young and old, feel the most. There was a 2015 study showing that for both targets of bullying behavior and the people who perpetrate it, the risk for suicidality is higher. So this affects us all deeply.”

So, what does she do to combat these feelings?

“For me, I utilize all the filters on my social media where I can. But even then, I’ll get people I know saying, “I’m so sorry that happened [online].” So it’s hard to ignore. When a meme [of me] is going around and people close to me follow the person who posted it, there’s an additional layer of humiliation and pain. Or when I retweet someone and they get harassed, I know that I’m affecting and hurting other people, even though it’s unintentional; if anything makes me cry it’s those things.”

The interesting thing about bullying now, more than ever, is the fact that people tend to be meaner online than in real life–largely because a screen hides someone’s hurt feelings. She echoed this, saying she can “count on one hand, maybe two, how many times people have been rude or said something cruel to my face.” This is why she made a video for the campaign “to make people aware of the disparity between how we behave online and in person.”

It doesn’t stop at what we can do for ourselves, of course, but for others as well. We don’t need to be bystanders to harm and bullying–and that’s Lewinsky’s main point–we can all be part of the change. How we can do that? Standing up for others when you see someone getting slammed unfairly.

You can check out the #BeStrong video Lewinsky and her team made below:

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