Monica Lewinsky was 24 years old when news broke online in 1998 about her relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. That led to years of harassment on the internet, which prompted Lewinsky to join the fight against cyberbullying.
Now, she is collaborating with anti-bullying groups in a PSA that shows how we treat each other online versus in the real world.
"This is very much about showing the disparity between how we behave online and how we behave offline when we're face-to-face," Lewinsky said Monday on "CBS This Morning."
The In Real Life campaign is urging viewers to #ClickWithCompassion.
"Before you post something online, think about what you're clicking. Think before you click. And so what that means is think about the face test. Would you say that to someone offline, just as we're sitting here? And if not, then don't post it," Lewinsky said.
"The core in what fuels bullying is shame and public humiliation," she continued. "So clickbait, which we're all pretty familiar with, is also fueled by those same things. So another way to click with compassion is to not click on clickbait that we're seeing so we can contribute to an algorithm which supports a culture of compassion versus a culture of humiliation."
Lewinsky also urged people to "use your click" to support someone who's a target of bullying online.
"I can relate to this from myriad ways," she said. "Even hearing from a stranger to show support to a target can actually really shift the situation and make sure that you don't feel alone."
While the Lewinsky scandal unfolded in an era before social media, Lewinsky found out "there's no border on the internet."
"There's kind of no parameter around how many people it feels like are laughing at you," Lewinsky said. "I think what happened later on, back in 1998, you know, was — there was no role model, there was no playbook, no one else had gone through a public shaming online like what I had experienced. And so I was very blessed in terms of having an incredible family and friends, and I also heard from a lot of strangers, so — which connects really to the other part of the campaign with it, #BeStrong emojis which came from this experience I had of having gotten letters from strangers. Some you wouldn't want to read on TV, but lot of them were letters of compassion and support and that really helped me through. Sometimes that's what got me through a day."
Lewinsky has taken ahold of her narrative in recent years, she said, insisting on "a different ending to our story."
"There were many times over the last two decades when I wasn't sure I would make it, and so I can really relate in a way to how a lot of people are feeling in today's world, even though it's for different reasons and now we have social media," Lewinsky said. "So for me this sense of being able to use some of my experiences to help other people is —in an impactful way —I'm incredibly grateful."
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