Last week, the Twitter user Rosey Blair and her boyfriend, Houston Hardaway, made headlines for their viral live commentary on the supposed “meet-cute” between the two strangers sitting in front of them on a plane ride from New York to Dallas.
Neither the woman in front of them (whose name was later revealed to be Helen), nor her handsome seatmate, Euan Holden, a former pro soccer player turned model, were aware that throughout the four-hour flight their every move was being documented by the duo behind them.
Blair’s posts about Helen and Holden’s budding romance were packed with speculation and innuendo. It spread quickly across the internet, racking up hundreds of thousands of retweets and nearly a million likes. Before they knew it, journalists and Today show producers were calling and the entire thread had become a meme.
Some on the internet praised it as an adorable love story. But as more information came out, the saga began to seem disturbing. Secretly photographing people or live-tweeting their every word to exploit them for content (and, maybe, viral fame) is gross, but the depths to which Blair and Hardaway sank were particularly troublesome.
Even after Helen was forced to quit social media once trolls discovered her account and hurled sexist insults at her, Blair encouraged her followers to investigate and expose the woman’s real identity. Blair also continued to milk the controversy throughout the weekend, posting selfie video updates with information about the drama and attempting to capitalize on her viral success by promoting her acting career and asking for a job at BuzzFeed.