Especially if you are Monica Lewinsky
The scandal broke out when I was in 2nd year in uni (yes, I'm that old. Shut up.). At that point in time, I was perplexed about the magnitude of the scandal. So a public leader couldn't keep his willy zipped up. So what? It's not news.
But apparently, the story of a dirty old man seducing young women in his (Oval) Office was so bloody news worthy, it nearly eclipsed other horrible news.
You know, stuff like NATO's failure in the former Yugoslavia, the economic melt down that toppled Asian economic tigers from their perches, the fall of Suharto, the genocides that kept breaking out with heart-breaking regularity around the globe, and so very many, many more.
I didn't read the scandal online because the Internet was in its infancy in my personal sphere. But her pictures were in the newspapers daily, with minute-to-minute revelations of the Starr Report.
As always, the man got away with a nod and a wink, while the woman was tarred and feathered all the way out of town. That was exactly what happened here, and instead of a three-day-wonder, it became a six ring circus that dragged on for months.
The constant barrage of the scandal on all news media made it ever easier to snigger at her for being "the other woman", for possessing loose morals, for seducing the "innocent boss", for being foolish enough to dally with a married man and the moralistic, self-righteously judgmental list goes on and on.
It also made it easy to forget that this slut / whore / tart / insert-invective-of-choice is a real person with feelings, who made mistakes in judgement (like your decision to buy that pleather skirt, thinking that you can stuff your fat ass into it once you lost that 20 lbs.), who have family and friends who are smeared by the scandal (her parents did a terrible job raising her, dontchathink?), and most importantly, a person whose life was irrevocably ruined.
Despite all that, she did triumph. She survived a calamitous loss of privacy and personal reputation never before seen in the history of the world, and still made something out of her life. She used her experience to examine how the Internet and social media has morphed bullying into a new monster that no one really knew how to deal with.
I love her take home message in this video: Have compassion for yourself.
And have compassion for others.
So think about this the next time you click the "Share" button. The next time you helped to viral a picture or a story. You don't have the context in which the story happened nor can you be sure that what was posted was truly something true.
Because you could also be a guilty party to a mega bullying event and be completely oblivious about it.