Monica Lewinsky shared a new public service announcement, “The Epidemic,” which comes with an interactive twist.
Monica Lewinsky unveiled a new interactive public service announcement on Wednesday that powerfully tells the story of a silent epidemic unfolding around the world.
The activist and speaker appeared exclusively on TODAY for the release of “The Epidemic,” a video highlighting her latest campaign against online bullying.
“It’s incredibly devastating and powerful,” Lewinsky said.
The video depicts a teen girl named Hailey watching a television report about “a mysterious virus sweeping the country” as she glances at her phone. She is shown going about her days struggling to sleep and eat and gradually showing more and more anxiety to the point where she stays home from school.
She is soon in a panic and clambering for a bottle of pills, and the next scene shows her being rushed into a hospital emergency room.
“This story is not what it seems,” the video reads. “Enter your phone number to get the message.”
Anyone who enters their phone number will then be sent a link to see the video in an entirely different light by receiving a series of text messages as they watch it.
The announcement aims to remind people about the unseen anguish caused by online harassment, as well as the fact that you never know what someone else may be going through when they’re being cyberbullied.
The ad agency BBDO New York created the clip in collaboration with Lewinsky and her public relations firm, Dini von Mueffling Communications, to show the real-life consequences of online bullying.
“The bullying crisis has become a global epidemic,” Lewinsky said on TODAY. “It can be hard to see the signs of when someone’s going through this and then, even worse than all of that is the fact that this behavior, with cyberbullying, even though it takes place online, there are offline consequences, and these consequences can range from bad to grave.”
The PSA supports a host of organizations, including Amanda Todd Legacy, The Childhood Resilience Foundation, Crisis Text Line, Defeat The Label, The Diana Award, Ditch The Label, Organization for Social Media Safety, Sandy Hook Promise, Sit With Us, Think Before You Type and The Tyler Clementi Foundation.
It’s the latest anti-bullying initiative supported by Lewinsky, who was vilified in the wake of her affair with former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Her “In Real Life” campaign was nominated for an Emmy in 2017, and was followed by a 2018 campaign called “#DefyTheName.”
“I eventually kind of came to this point where I realized that I couldn’t run away from what happened to me,” she said. “I had to integrate it. … I think that no matter what your humiliations are or setbacks, you have to find a way to have a different ending to your story.”
Lewinsky gave a passionate speech in 2014 about the dangers of cyberbullying at the Forbes Under 30 Summit and has frequently spoken about fighting the stigma associated with her affair with the president. She also supported an anti-bullying campaign spearheaded by Prince William in 2016.
In a TODAY.com survey of more than 1,400 parents, 85% said their child has been bullied.
The Pew Research Center found last year that 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and UNICEF reported that one in three young people across 30 countries have been victims of bullying.