Amy Roberts: A world-class conversation
Read any brochure put out by the Chamber or local resort, or listen to any advertisement promoting this town, and you’re bound to be drawn to phrases like, “limitless recreation” and “unparalleled beauty” and “five-star amenities.” But my personal favorite is how everything around here quickly gets labeled “world class.” From lodging to snow making, views, hiking trails, shopping, dining, and even our bus system, we’ve designated ourselves in a class by ourselves.
For the most part, the term “world class” is used so often, I think it has lost a bit of credibility. Look, I love our bus system as much as the next local, but I’m hesitant to agree there’s not another town in the entire world that can map a few routes as well as we can.
So I tend to hear world class as code for, “We think it’s great, we’re out of cool adjectives, and our marketing team wouldn’t let us say, ‘It beats the hell out of anything you’ll find in Cleveland,’ so we call it world class.”
Suffice it to say, it’s not a phrase I give much consideration to. Except when it comes to the shows booked at the Eccles Center.
For the last 20 years, the Park City Institute has truly brought world-class entertainment, conversation and culture to the Eccles Center stage, and last weekend was no exception. On Saturday night, Monica Lewinsky gave a powerful and emotional speech, designed to make us think, and hopefully behave, differently. Especially online.
She spoke about her experience as “patient zero” in the world of online shaming. In many ways, hers was the first story to ever go viral, and at the time, in her early twenties, she wasn’t prepared or equipped to handle the vitriol suddenly lashed at her from around the globe. No one was — it hadn’t been experienced before.
Empathy and compassion were words she used often as she described her work to make the internet a safer and kinder place. She spoke tearfully and frankly about contemplating suicide, the humiliation and guilt she’s lived with, and all that she’s been denied because of her mistake — a career, marriage, new friendships and other normal life events of your twenties and thirties.
It was a thought-provoking evening.
Given her topic, I was more than a little disheartened when I read the online comments about her speech the next morning. It was not lost on me that a spokesperson for an anti-cyberbullying movement, was the target of just that. Again.
I scrolled through several insistences that she deserved the animosity and disgrace she continues to live with today. I read posts declaring she wasn’t a victim, and these were the consequences she must suffer for her actions. A number of people agreed that at 22, she was a grown woman, and should have known better than to get involved with a powerful man. Thank God when I was that age I was just sleeping with fraternity brothers and bartenders. One person even stated she was to blame for the war in Iraq, because she’s the reason Al Gore lost to George Bush. A modern-day Helen of Troy by his logic.
It all made me shake my head. They’d missed the point. Ms. Lewinsky owns her mistake. She’s paid for it dearly — at a far greater price than called for. Yet two decades later, people still demand it should cost her even more. To them, her self-worth is the only acceptable currency.
She was patient zero in what is today an epidemic. And that’s why she took the stage Saturday night. To remind her audience that empathy is cruelty’s antidote.
She was authentic, strong and brave. But what impressed me the most is her resilience. There’s simply no better way to describe her. Except in Park City. Here, she can be described as world-class resilient.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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