Several years ago, I wrote a bunch of posts about trolls invading my blog and Twitter and harassing and/or spying on me because I made friends with their target, S, who they accuse of being a woman named JO instead of a man. After several years of blogging about abuse and checking out other abuse blogs across the web, I grew to sense the difference between an actual abuse victim telling her story, and a slander site. There were sites about S set up by the trolls, but they all looked like fake slander sites. That, and their harassment of anyone with an alternate point of view–their refusal to let anyone come to a different conclusion–looked like high school mean girls trying to turn the whole school against their target. To this day, they are obsessed, and it’s been seven years at least. I wanted to see a serious journalistic piece on this, but nobody ever bothered with it but the tabloids, and you know they make crap up all the time.
For years I felt pretty lonely, being the only one sticking up for S, at least that I could see. Sometimes other people did, but then they’d vanish, driven away by the trolls. I was the One Who Stood Up to Them. But now, a lot more people are joining in. In the intervening years, S has been posting all sorts of podcasts, videos, and now Twitter Spaces. I’ve spoken with him on the phone. He has a girlfriend of a few years, and yeah, they’ve actually met! She repeatedly says they’ve been to each other’s houses and met each other’s children. I’ve even texted to both of them.
Her real identity is a secret, but a few of us know who she is. We heard them on podcasts together and got to interact with her and S on Spaces when she still had a Twitter account–and yes, S’s voice is that of a man. They interact like people who know each other well.
Every now and then they’ll break up, and I’ll think, “Now she’ll start telling everyone that she was catfished.” But that never happens. Her story never changes. They’ve been together as either friends or dating for a few years.
THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE.
S has also met a family friend of the Browns. The trolls were merciless to her, too, back in ’15 and ’16, but she stood her ground, never changed her story that he’s for real.
Then there’s the businessowner on Yelp who said she set up the tech for his company and they were all nice, especially S.
S just got through yet another spate of troll attacks, new people duped by the trolls and fake hate sites and tabloid stories. But more people nowadays just aren’t having it. They yelled back. They blocked and reported.
You guys do realize that tabloids and “reality” shows are full of fakery, right? Especially TLC–They should be called The Lying Channel. Breaking Amish, Amish Mafia–they have a terrible track record of making crap up and telling us that’s “reality.” For example, one of the Breaking Amish seasons told us that a character (might as well call her that) was a witch with an abusive Amish husband. She was portrayed as trying to sleep with some of the guys in the group and getting jealous when they didn’t give her attention. The actress (might as well call her that) was actually just married, and very happily, to her NOT Amish soulmate, and probably wasn’t even a witch. There have been a lot of other transgressions from that show over the years, which have been attested to by the people on the show, and well documented.
And Sister Wives won’t stop telling us that Meri was “catfished,” though I noticed they stopped using S’s name after he threatened to sue. Every time the show comes on again (the new season is just finishing up), the trolls come out again, and they used the “catfish” word quite a bit on last week’s episode. When S does something to draw attention, the trolls come out again. It’s frustrating for him, as much as he tries and tries to ignore them. He makes new online friends, the trolls tell them he’s a catfish, and he loses the friends. He keeps having to show his driver’s license to Twitter staff to prove that he is who he says he is. Seven years after a painful breakup, he’s still dealing with the aftermath.
I get so sick of it myself, especially since the trolls terrorized me five years ago now, then again four years ago. I had to stop going to their accounts to report them, because just seeing their tweets (especially if they mentioned me) would send me back into a tailspin into the darkness. I had to just block them instead. This time around, I was able to laugh at one of the new trolls, especially when he said that the girlfriend was really a fake catfish account. He accused yet another person of being a fake account, and she told him the truth, which led to him apologizing. !!!
Over the years, I’ve seen my own proofs, things I don’t post about. But aside from meeting, nothing compares to actually talking with a person and someone that person knows in real life. At least two people confirm that they’ve met him.
Things are getting better now. It feels good to be vindicated. Now let’s vindicate S. Tell the truth, Meri: Make these trolls look to the world like the fools they are, be honest with Kody and your sister wives about what happened between you and S, and move the frick on already. S is a good guy and deserves peace.
Six years I’ve been following him online, and he’s never been predatory with me. I’ve gotten answers to many questions. These trolls, on the other hand, who insist he’s fake, obsess over him, apparently spend every waking hour harassing him and digging up whatever information they can find on his friends. They send him disgusting pictures, made sexualized comments to the family friend of the Browns, and will even harass any family members or friends they can find of S’s friends. Even when you don’t want to be found, they will search for you and your private information. They dug through my blog using the Wayback Machine and VPN’s after I blocked them. I occasionally get peculiar “friend” requests on social media even though I don’t use my real name out on the Interwebs; one was especially scary and mimicked a friend’s account with bad spelling. These trolls are the very definition of Stalker, with vile and frightening behavior, yet they keep convincing people that they have the “facts” and are good people just warning others.
I see this happen elsewhere, too. It seems common among any Twitter account with a bit of fame. For example, people accuse David Weissman of being a different kind of catfish because of a group of trolls that goes after him. Groups of people make it their life’s work to harass and stalk and accuse people of awful things, like a group that harassed the guy who plays Jamie on the Outlander TV series. My favorite online DJ is regularly attacked in the website shoutbox. Even being a public figure, when everybody knows your full name and sees you on TV, doesn’t protect you from such vileness. And private citizens certainly don’t all want to put their full names and photographs and drivers’ licenses on the Internet just to prove they are who they say they are! That doesn’t make them catfish. You can’t just go to some tabloid or hate site and assume it’s telling you the truth.