Continuing her reemergence into public life, Monica Lewinsky on Monday joined the Twitter bandwagon, kicking off her account with a post that seemed to predict the rubbernecking frenzy that would accompany it: "#HereWeGo."
After just a few hours on the social media site, the former White House intern whose fame stems from her sexual affair with then-President Bill Clinton boasted more than 20,000 followers. She posted a second Tweet that said she was "excited (and nervous)" to speak at the Forbes Under 30 Summit on Monday morning about the Internet's role in an individual's reputation.
Having worked for over a decade to maintain a low profile - even moving to London to escape the media circus that seemed to follow her - Lewinsky authored a retrospective in the June issue of Vanity Fair expressing her intent to "burn the beret and bury the blue dress." The reference alluded to the infamous outfit she had worn during a sexual encounter with Mr. Clinton in 1997 that had a stain containing Clinton's DNA.
Now 41, Lewinsky said in her article that she was motivated to tell her story after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman who was secretly recorded having a sexual encounter with another man. Her own reaction to the public scandal surrounding the affair was to have strong suicidal temptations due to the shame and scorn she felt, although she never actually attempted suicide.
"Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?" she wrote. She added she wanted to begin a speaking circuit to engage her "efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment."
Lewinsky lived up to that vow at the Forbes event, announcing her plan to spearhead a "cultural revolution" against online bullying.
"There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then," she said of when news broke of her affair with Mr. Clinton. "But there were gossip, news and entertainment website replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded." It was a "viral phenomenon," she went on, that "you could argue was the first moment of truly 'social media.'"
In her Twitter profile, which is verified, Lewinsky describes herself as a "social activist. public speaker. contributor to vanity fair. knitter of things without sleeves."