Monica Lewinsky became a star overnight when, 13 years ago, the news broke that she had an affair with none other than the then-President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
She addressed a large crowd at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia on Monday morning, starting her speech with the words, “My name is Monica Lewinsky — though I’ve often been advised to change it,” which immediately put the crowd at ease and garnered considerable laughter.
The speech by Monica, which was the first of its kind since the affair took place all those years ago, immediately started a buzz on Twitter, with hundreds of tweets praising her for her courage during and after her heartfelt and emotional address.
Fortunately, Monica Lewinsky, now 41, joined Twitter just two hours before the event, so she was able to enjoy all the praise and support she received on the social media site.
In the speech, Lewinsky discussed the fallout of the affair.
“Overnight I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one. I was Patient Zero, the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet. Sixteen years ago, fresh out of college… I fell in love with my boss. I lost my public self, or had it stolen. In a way, it was a form of identity theft. In 1998, ‘public Monica, that Monica, that woman’ was born. I was publicly identified and someone I did not recognize.”
As she spoke to the intrigued crowd of mainly 20 to 30-year-olds, Lewinsky shared that while there was no such thing as social media back in 1998, there was such thing as aggressive gossip columns and entertainment websites.
“Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media,'” she said.
The Forbes Under 30 Summit brings together over 1,000 members of Forbes “30 Under 30” list of “business leaders and mentors.”
According to a statement, the event was advertised as “Lewinsky, who last talked publicly 13 years ago, will offer a singular perspective on what happened to her, and the scourge of harassment in the digital age.”