The Internet, Pop Culture

Think twice before you tweet: social media influencers are real people too

What Caroline Calloway’s viral story taught me.

Just because we dislike someone’s internet representation, doesn’t mean we should ridicule or shame them. Period. But hey, easier said than done. 

I don’t follow Caroline Calloway, American Instagram personality. I did at one point. She was funny, gorgeous, bold, and lived a fairytale life attending Cambridge. What’s not to like? But eventually, I lost interest and unfollowed. End of story. So I thought.  

I‘d occasionally see her in stories or posts by other Instagram “influencers” I still follow. Earlier in January one of these friends, Charles McBryde made a point to remind his followers of their friendship and posted on his story, “@carolinecalloway would never-and HAS never-intentionally scammed people out of their money….the people who are using this opportunity to take out their resentment on her should seriously reconsider the effect that has on a person’s psychology and get a f***ing life.” Scamming money? I had no idea what he referred to, so I researched. 

A female, yes another female writer, Kayleigh Donaldson (who also uses the internet to “influence” by the way) started a Twitter thread shortly after Caroline announced her “Creativity Workshop”. Caroline’s plan was to host events where she would talk, make attendees care packages, and feed them lunch. Basically, an inspirational speaker hosting a huge hangout for her fans. Nothing wrong with that. But due to inexperience and bad planning, Caroline canceled some stops on her tour and had to refund $165 tickets while profusely apologizing. 

Kayleigh updated her followers with screenshots and comments regarding this “scam”, continuing to bring attention to Caroline’s failings, not even calling her by name just “the scammer”. This hate-ridden thread inspired publications to write negative articles prompting hateful comments, nasty messages, and basic cyberbullying. 

There are many things wrong with this picture. Did Caroline get in over her head? Yes. Did she make mistakes? Yes. Did she own them and take responsibility? Yes! In fact, Caroline continued with her tour, embraced the title of “scammer” and compares her bumpy experience with the disastrous Fyre Festival for laughs. Just like everybody’s favorite celebrity to hate on, Taylor Swift, Caroline is taking her own “Reputation” and moving forward, waving goodbye to the haters. But the main problem with this situation? Kayleigh Donaldson and followers.

For a woman in the world of journalism and writing, Kayleigh should know better. It’s bad enough that women have important things to worry about in this modern age (wage gap, healthcare, child brides, to name a few) without every word they say being twisted by somebody on the other side of a screen who doesn’t “like” them. Obviously, we take that risk when we choose to post on social media, but be honest, how would you feel if you woke up and saw multiple articles online about your “failings” for the world to see? 

It’s easy to get caught up in the Twitter-verse. And did I maybe roll my eyes a bit when I saw the whole “Creativity Workshop” thing? Guilty. Caroline Calloway isn’t someone I’d choose to follow, or pay $165 to hang out with, but I know it’s wrong to stand by while a woman is unfairly treated.

It’s sad that girl-on-girl hate is so prominent, and that many of us (me included) choose to engage in it on a daily basis. We may not keep our Twitter followers up to date with the happenings of people we don’t care for, or write articles bashing them, but we listen to the gossip, we “like” the snarky tweets posted by girls about “that hoe who tried hitting on my boyfriend”, and we comment on the choices of people we know and don’t know. Daily.  

I too am guilty of this, and if Caroline’s viral story has taught me anything, it’s this basic truth: just because we dislike someone, doesn’t mean we should tear them down. Remember that little saying your mom used to tell you? “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Girl-on-girl hate—any hate—is detrimental to our culture. Instead of ripping each other to shreds, we should be supporting each other.  

Next time we see something we don’t like, stop. Before we jump on the bandwagon, retweet, or comment below the Instagram post, stop. Let’s first consider all the facts, research, and think about how we would feel in their shoes. Get all sides of the story and give people a chance before we comment.

My hope is that next time, we’ll think twice.