Should We Be Held Accountable for Our Digital Footprint Forever?

Social media concept.The internet can create so many welcoming connections.  Technological advances allow us to access information and connect with people worldwide.  There are so many benefits to having information at our fingertips.  However, when unfavourable information is leaked online, that technological advancement that everyone loves for connecting can affect the person being victimized quickly and exceptionally publicly.

Watching Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, The Price of Shame, made me feel remorseful for her. When her incident became public in 1998, I was 12 years old. As a kid, I didn’t understand what was happening or why the public scrutinized this woman. I remember shopping with my mom; every tabloid magazine we saw had her name and picture plastered on the front.  The tabloids created her to be a monster and for President Clinton to be the victim. I also remember thinking she’s a celebrity; that’s what they get for being famous and never second-guessing the information or how it would affect a person’s life.

While writing this post, I googled the 1998 Monica Lewinsky tabloids, and my eyes opened.  Seeing the tabloid headlines now as a 38-year-old instead of aMonica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton National Enquirer Magazine cover12-year-old opened my eyes.  The tabloid cover to the left is from August 12, 2013, which means that 16 years after the first public shaming, Monica Lewinsky was still being harassed. She was still being publicly shamed for an indiscretion she had when she was 22 years old. Did I make mistakes at 22 years old? You bet I did; some were very similar to Monica Lewinsky’s. However, mine were not aired on the internet or with someone famous, so after a while, the harassment stopped and was forgotten.

Why is Monica Lewinsky still being held accountable for the actions she took when she was 22 years old? It has been  26 years since the information was released. That means more years have passed than Monica had lived when her mistake ruined her life.

I am Proud of Monica. She’s standing up for herself and people facing the same public shaming—people feeling worthless and publicly humiliated online. She credits being alive to her mother. Monica speaks of her mother making her shower with the door open and being worried that Monica would be humiliated to death. As a mother, I couldn’t fathom my child going through that. So when is enough? Should people still be able to dig up information on you from 10, 20, 30, or even 100 years after it happened?

If you haven’t watched Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, I encourage you to. It’s eye-opening and makes you wonder why our society feeds off other people’s scandals and negative emotions. Why does society feed off other people’s pain? This woman is fantastic and should be looked up to. She is spreading awareness and standing up for those without a voice—those living in fear of tomorrow.



  1. Sabrina Irvine

    Hi Dayna,
    I enjoyed listening to her Ted Talk; she is so well-spoken and inspirational. Reading and listening to some of the things she faced over the years is unbelievable. We all made notable mistakes in our early 20s, and I can’t imagine if everything I did was public knowledge. What chaos would the world be in if everything we did pre-internet years was available for critique by the online world? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

    • Dayna Coffey

      I couldn’t even fathom if everything I did was on the internet. I do not envy the people who have their lives broadcasted.

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