Yesterday, I wrote about something that was happening on the internet. I write about things that happen online all the time. In my regular morning internet search yesterday I found a celebrity forum in which the members were discussing the best ways to make Lady Gaga's newly announced single "Perfect Illusion" a hit of the summer.
I had stumbled upon a large group of Lady Gaga fans who were eagerly creating fake "Christian soccer mom" Twitter accounts and badgering radio stations to play Lady Gaga.
"You better be ready to request the song via Twitter," read a post. "Radio hosts hate homosexuals and stan (fan) Twitters, it’s a fact. Make an account with a soccer mom selfie avatar, make your username something like ‘ilovemykids123’ and write a bio about how you have three kids and a husband ... Then write a tweet like ‘@RadioStation ahah my kids luv this new GaGa song!!! driving me mad on my way to work!! play it please’."
It was hilarious and clever and organised with a clean precision that was almost scary. So I wrote about it, exposing the fake soccer moms for what they were.
And then the Lady Gaga fans, posing as Christian soccer moms, found me.
The next 24 hours of my life were filled with countless messages from "soccer moms". Names like "Carol Jones" and "Becky Van Derbooben" were hounding me for things they believed they were owed: a public apology, a nice candle-lit dinner, a meeting with their son, who they were worried was becoming a "home of sexual", and dozens of requests to "send nudes".
If Twitter were a battleground, I had fired first without setting up any defence, and the soccer moms knew. They were going to "get" me. They were "smart Caucasian housewives" with "very good lawyers" and they were going to sue me. They kept calling me "sweaty" when they meant to call me "sweety". All of this from a group of fake soccer moms who were created as part of a conspiracy to promote Lady Gaga.
My Twitter was an endless stream of mothers calling for my attention, my TweetDeck columns flowing faster than I have ever seen. My direct messages, which I had foolishly left open, were full of soccer moms either ridiculing me, or calling me "daddy" while they asked for me to "choke them out".
Christian lady roleplay Twitter is not new. Fake Stepford Wives-esque Twitter accounts have existed for years, portraying the archetypal middle-class, stay-at-home mother. These accounts are crafted over time to appear as PG (if not G-rated) as possible, until the day Justin Bieber tweets about his new single and they reply with something along the lines of "fuck me in the ear with the hard cum of your sweet music".
The use of these accounts by fans for some sort of guerrilla marketing campaign, however, is new.
Hours after I originally published my story about the soccer moms, I checked the forums where I had found the Lady Gaga fans discussing their plan. They weren't talking about the plan anymore. It had already launched, been noticed, gone viral, and given them (and Lady Gaga) the publicity they wanted.
Now the discussion had shifted to one of community.
"We need to diversify our profiles," one user wrote. "We can't all be middle class, Christian, white women. We need some 'cool dads' to tell dad jokes on Twitter, we need Trump supporters, we need sport fans."
Lady Gaga's fans were beginning to create a community of soccer moms, not so much to harass me, or to harass radio stations, but to create a new group of people – real or otherwise – who all wanted to hear the new Gaga and talk about the pop star nonstop. And while all of this is very nice and interesting and fun, they are still messaging me with requests to be "fisted", or praying for my soul lest I end up in hell, a sinner, when I die.
The Lady Gaga soccer mom campaign is also interesting because it seems to have been born out of a belief that radio stations do not care for stans (a term used to describe a particularly obsessed fan) or homosexuals. The reasons why this claim was made, or what kind of experiences led to Gaga's most loyal fans believing this, aren't really clear.
One of the soccer moms told me they thought it was mostly that radio stations didn't respect stans. "From my experience in the site 'hating gays' is mostly a joke," they said. "Basically Gaga's demographic is homosexuals, so [fake] mothers are changing that belief by making Twitter accounts."
One of the members described GagaDaily.com, and being a stan in general, as a cult: "Members find Gaga Daily so captivating, it gets [them] addicted. That's why some members refer to the site as a cult."
Of course, all of this was told to me by a bunch of anonymous people on the internet posing as Christian soccer moms sending me messages saying "fuck me daddy", all as a conspiracy to get Lady Gaga's music played. So you'll have to take their word for it.
Last night, as I lay in bed trying to watch Netflix, getting my mind off of the endless stream of soccer moms in my mentions, my own mother texted me, worried and confused.
"Brad, just read your Twitter feed!! You OK?" she asked urgently.
I explained the situation as best I could, my mother trying her best to understand. When I told her I was going to tweet our conversation, she told me not to identify her, lest the Christian soccer moms somehow come after her as well. My co-workers began printing out the tweets that were being sent to me and sticking them on my desk. There's a Change.org petition to "Stop Busfeed". I have been served a fake court summons.
This morning, the soccer moms began sending me emails. If Christian soccer moms did use Twitter this religiously, I would hope it wouldn't be all so litigious. Every soccer mom that has messaged me, regardless of the abuse or sexual requests, has wanted one thing: an apology. So here it is: I am sorry, Christian soccer moms, real and not real, for whatever I have done to disrespect you, your "home of sexual" sons, or your dead husbands. I am sorry, Lady Gaga fans, for shining a light on your social marketing scheme. Please leave me alone, I need some sleep.
Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" is out Friday. Until then, the illusion remains online, a horde of stock images and stolen pictures of moms from Facebook, creating a community that I'm now a part of for god knows how long. After all of this I pray for one thing: I just really, really hope the fucking song is good.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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