Home Viral LOG TikTok helped dozens of NYC women realize they had dated the same...

TikTok helped dozens of NYC women realize they had dated the same man. The ‘West Elm Caleb’ phenomenon shows the dark side of both dating apps and internet sleuthing.

29
0

  • A TikTok video led multiple New York City women to realize they dated the same man this week. 
  • The “West Elm Caleb” debacle highlights issues with privacy and online dating. 
  • Insider spoke with Caleb’s dates and experts to explain why the phenomenon captivated the internet.

It started with what was supposed to be a relatable video about dating in New York. Last week, Mimi Shou, a New York City jewelry designer, recorded a TikTok video documenting an all too familiar experience for singletons. Shou had gone on an amazing first date with a tall man named Caleb and then never heard from him again.

Immediately, women started pouring into the comments, asking whether the Caleb she was referring to worked for West Elm, the home-furnishing store. Shou’s Caleb did not, but the commenters started piecing together that their other Caleb was the same man — a man who appeared to be very active on the New York City dating-app scene, where he had profiles describing himself as a 6-foot-4 furniture designer at West Elm. Thus, the “West Elm Caleb” moniker was born.

Many of the women’s stories shared a common thread: After they matched with Caleb on Hinge or Bumble, the 25-year-old would “love-bomb” them, making them feel special and like a relationship was developing before ghosting them.

“I matched with him, and he said he wanted to decorate an apartment with me,” one woman commented on Shou’s video. Another said Caleb’s first words to her were, “Marry me.”

Some of the women said they realized that he sent them the same word-for-word messages as he sent to other girls and made identical playlists under different names to send to multiple women. Two of the commenters said he promised to name a couch after them.

What followed was an explosion of investigation into Caleb’s life. Screenshots of his dating profiles were leaked, as were some of his conversations. His LinkedIn page was also discovered.

But while the internet has tremendous fun when it identifies a new villain, the story highlights issues with both modern dating culture and online sleuthing. The women who had bad experiences with Caleb appear to be glad TikTok has offered a way to warn other women about him, but that comes at the cost of Caleb’s privacy.

Insider is not naming West Elm Caleb because he hasn’t been accused of any crime. He declined to comment when contacted by Insider on Wednesday. But multiple women said Caleb sent them similar apology messages after the social-media reckoning, in which he explained that he was looking for “validation” on the apps and was sorry for “ghosting” them. In at least one apology, he said he was “actively seeking help.”

The mysteries of West Elm Caleb unfolded in real time on TikTok

Kellie, who posts on TikTok under the name @kellsbellsbaby, had been dating a man for about six weeks when she watched Shou’s video. She then saw a TikTok by another creator named Kate Glavan, who described dating “a mysterious Midwest boy,” and made the connection.

“Our stories aligned a bit too perfectly,” Kellie told Insider. “It was all within a matter of 15 minutes.”

Kellie said she felt nauseous after finding this out but also comforted in a weird way. She said she was upset with herself that she had believed what he had promised “when it was all lies and a performance.”

The Bumble app on an iPhone.



Boumen Japet/Shutterstock


“However, hearing other women’s stories made me feel less alone and allowed me to find humor in the situation,” she added.

Glavan posted a video on Wednesday, saying she had also dated the same man, but she said in the comments she didn’t want to talk about it anymore out of respect for his privacy. A day later, she changed her mind because she had received a text message from Kellie detailing her six-week dating stint with Caleb, which overlapped with Glavan’s first promising dates with him.

“The audacity of a straight white man with a mustache,” Glavan said in her TikTok post. “Solidarity to the girlies out there.”

One woman had more serious allegations against Caleb

Kate Pearce, 23, told Insider that Caleb sent her two unsolicited pictures of his penis after they matched on Hinge in October.

Pearce said she and Caleb started messaging around Halloween and she suggested that they meet up at a bar with their friends that night. She said he declined because he said he wanted their first date to be “wholesome.”

But as she was waiting in line to get into a bar that night, she said she received a full body nude photo from Caleb.

“I was like, ‘What the hell?'” Pearce told Insider. “We had a phone call. I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ — but in a kind of funny way. I didn’t see it at that point as, ‘Oh, this is messed up.'”

He ghosted her the next day.

Pearce said Caleb reached out to her a month later with excuses about why he sent the picture of his penis to her. She was ready to give him a second chance, but she said he then added her on Snapchat and sent her another picture of his penis.

“I felt like an idiot at the time for giving him so many chances, but now I see lots of other women did. We all fell into the trap,” Pearce said.

Insider was not able to independently verify that Pearce had been sent the nude photos because she said she deleted them. But Pearce did share screenshots of their conversations in which they discussed the initial nude photo.

The saga formed a sisterhood of women looking out for each other

The story formed a sisterhood between dozens of women in NYC who said they had dated West Elm Caleb. Even people who hadn’t dated Caleb got involved and shared stories of similar experiences with different men.

Dr. Ysabel Gerrard, a sociologist at the University of Sheffield who specializes in digital media and society, told Insider Caleb was “the stand-in for every dick a woman has ever dated.”

“A trend that I’ve really seen come out of this is that kind of, ‘We need to warn each other. We need to look after each other because no one’s going to do it for us,'” she said.

“At the end of the day, if he is not treating women well, and if some of his behaviors are emotionally abusive, then you kind of think it’s a good thing that people are sharing those stories,” she added.

Kellie told Insider women were often shamed for gossiping but “moments like this make you realize how important it is.”

“Sharing this information has made women feel less ostracized for going through similar things,” she said.

She said she believed Caleb had been held accountable, especially because he had sent apologies to several of the women came forward.

“I loved how all of us went through this similar experience and were able to look out for each other,” she said.

There are questions over whether the punishment fits the crime

As the story has spread, there have also been concerns over whether the massive reaction to Caleb’s serial dating is proportionate. While the first wave of interest was all about women sharing their bad dating experiences, the second wave resembled mob mentality.

West Elm’s Instagram has been flooded with comments from people calling for Caleb’s dismissal and even accusations of rape, despite none of the women he dated mentioning any kind of sexual assault. West Elm’s press department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

TikTok even tweeted about the “drama,” which seemingly spurred the investigation on. Other brands hopped on the trend, with Ruggable posting a TikTok advertising that their rugs weren’t designed by West Elm Caleb and Grubhub making a joke about Caleb having “multiple delivery addresses.”

The focus on Caleb has gone beyond how he treated a few women in New York. He appears to have become a target for countless women who have reached the end of their tether to channel their frustrations about dating culture toward.

Similarities were drawn to what was dubbed the “Couch Guy” saga last year, where a young woman filmed herself surprising her boyfriend at college, and hundreds of thousands of strangers dissected the man’s every move, analyzed his body language, and accused him of everything from being a liar to cheating. The man, who identified himself as Robert McCoy in a Slate article, later described the experience as “invasive” and “menacing.”

Casey Fiesler, an assistant professor of technology ethics, internet law and policy, and online communities at the University of Colorado Boulder told Insider that many people got sucked into the excitement of piecing together the puzzle of West Elm Caleb because it felt like a game. To her, it didn’t seem like it started with


doxxing

being the goal. On some level, she said, this is a case of women telling stories about men they should avoid.

“Women warning other women about guys they shouldn’t date is something that’s been happening forever,” she said. “This is just a much larger scale.”

But internet pile-ons can cause harm. For starters, there’s always uncertainty over whether the right person is being identified. Then, there’s the question of whether the punishment of internet damnation fits the crime — ruining a man’s reputation for what is essentially pretty routine dating behavior.

Fiesler said: “People need to be cautious and think about what the impact on this person will actually be.”

In a series of TikTok videos Wednesday and Thursday, the New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz highlighted the ways in which she said the public shaming of West Elm Caleb was problematic.

Lorenz said TikTok has gotten “uniquely good” at fostering “mass-viral-collaborative investigations” but that lately these investigations had been used against “just random people” like Caleb.

She said she understood the desire to “hold shitty men accountable” and that many of the original videos were posted in good faith.

“But what it’s morphed into is really just public shaming and the absolute humiliation and destruction of this man who we fundamentally don’t know that much about and we certainly haven’t heard from,” she said.

Kellie said she felt there was a “line to toe” when it came to accountability. While she, like several others, posted a photo of Caleb to “warn” other women, she said she believed posting someone’s contact information was a boundary someone should never cross.

“However, I think people, mainly women, have been made out to feel crazy for attempting to call out the people they are dating or dated,” she added. “I believe that [Caleb] might have continued to do this to women down the road had he not been held accountable.”

The women involved hope there’s more awareness about the red flags of modern dating

Pearce is conflicted about how Caleb’s identity has been splashed over TikTok.

“Part of me feels bad that his privacy is out there, but on the other hand, his behavior is so inappropriate and needs to be stopped,” Pearce said. “So I guess I feel good that all these women are coming out and exposing this man for his behavior.”

Pearce said she didn’t think Caleb should be canceled for love-bombing and ghosting women, saying both were an “unfortunate” part of dating culture. But she said the extent to which he repeated this cycle with many women deserved attention. And she said the nude photos he sent her crossed a line.

“My situation is different because the photos of his dick bring it to the next level, where that is something to be concerned about,” she said.

Pearce said that learning she was just one of many women love-bombed and ghosted by Caleb left her feeling pessimistic about dating in general.

“It makes me afraid to go on dating apps,” she said, adding that she felt she had “no hope” of ever finding someone because her conversation with Caleb had been so good at the beginning.

“I didn’t even meet him in person,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it was like for the women who actually met him. It’s weird to think that you can get bamboozled so badly.”

Kellie said she also hoped the story brought more awareness to unsavory tactics on the dating scene and helped other women “not feel so alone if they have gone through it.”

“It’s an unfortunate way to learn more about love bombing and manipulation,” she said. “But I am happy people are learning, including myself.”



Courtesy By INSIDER

Source link

Previous articleGoogle Sheets 1.21.502.04 APK Download by Google LLC
Next articleAndroid System WebView Dev 99.0.4839.2 APK Download by Google LLC
Premium wordpress plugins, Download PHP Scripts, Android ios games and Apps, Free and nulled versions Daily Releases!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here