I’ve Read The Kidney Person Story 3 Times And I’m Still Completely Baffled

    "Imagine donating a kidney and coming out looking like the bad guy."

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed that wild New York Times kidney donation article. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed’s Nina Mohan about the viral story “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?”. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: Okay, so if you guys haven't read it yet, this story is absolutely wild. So much drama, such complex characters, so many twists — I felt like I was reading a Greek tragedy. Can you just give a brief recap of the story for anyone who hasn't read it yet?

    Obviously the whole bad art friend/kidney donation story is wild, but my FAVE detail is that after years and tens of thousands of dollars of lawsuits, trying to get people fired and publicly destroying their reputation, the original story only made $425 👌https://t.co/aigAVu3grd

    Twitter: @tckrgv

    Nina Mohan: It's so funny. I tried to recount this to my husband, before bed, as a quick little bedtime story, and it took me like half an hour. So I don't know how brief I can be, but basically there's this woman named Dawn [Dorland] and she decided to donate her kidney to an anonymous recipient. She wasn't giving it to anybody that she knew, which is a big, selfless thing to do.

    As part of this for her, she decided to create a Facebook group of some friends and family to seemingly share things about this journey, I guess. And then she noticed that certain people from some writer circles she used to run in on the East Coast were not interacting with her posts or commenting on them or liking them. And so she emailed some of them personally and directly, including one writer named Sonya [Larson], who was somewhat successful and has been published, unlike Dawn. And they exchanged a few brief messages.

    Then sometime later, Dawn was tagged in a post about one of Sonya's short stories that happened to feature a white woman kidney donor. And Dawn started to think that maybe this story was inspired by her and was about her, and they exchanged some more messages and it got a little bit tense. And it basically devolved into Dawn seemingly suing Sonya, or taking some legal action against her, and also Sonya taking some legal action against Dawn, because it was also revealed that an earlier draft of Sonya story had featured a direct quote from one of Dawn's Facebook posts that included the letter that she sent to the eventual recipient. So it resulted in Sonya's story getting pulled from the Common Reads distribution process.

    BuzzFeed Daily: So, you know, Dawn is an extremely flawed protagonist, to say the least, and — I would say protagonist in her brain and maybe some other people. She's constantly seeking external validation for her charitable acts, and the subject of white saviorism plays very heavily throughout this story. Would you attribute Dawn's actions at the beginning to white saviorism, or is she just being annoyingly performative? How do you even parse the two?

    NM: It's a tough thing because I don't necessarily think that her actions in the very beginning are white saviorism. I do think they're more on the side of annoyingly performative, in the beginning, but I do think her behavior is very specifically like "white lady," because I think it's something that some people of color have gone through, where you have a white acquaintance and they get a little overly familiar with you or think that you're better friends than you are.

    And like I said, Dawn didn't even have her phone number, but expected some amount of interaction with her random kidney Facebook group, which I think again is just very white behavior. But in the beginning, at least not quite white saviorism. I actually think that's what makes Sonya's story a little bit different, in that she does kind of cover that white savior angle in a way that wasn't really present in Dawn's Facebook posts.

    BuzzFeed News: So let's talk about Sonya here, because in the article, first we meet Dawn and then we go deep on Sonya, another writer who Dawn met in Boston in a writers' group a few years earlier. But Sonya then became a little more successful than Dawn. It's a classic Mozart and Salieri situation, if you will. Now, I think it's safe to say that both women in this story make mistakes. Even though I land on being Team Sonya in the end, I don't think Sonya is a perfect character at this. What would you say Sonya's biggest mistakes in this whole experience were?

    I (52f) selflessly donated a kidney. my friend (43f) didn’t react to my facebook posts about it; I confronted her via email, then found out she wrote a story based on my experience. ATIA for suing her for plagiarism?

    Twitter: @campbell_jmg

    NM: I would say that Sonya's biggest mistake was the direct ripoff of Dawn's letter to the recipient. And I understand it as an inspiration point, and even in an early draft, let's say including that. But it was available publicly — she had read it somewhere — and that's how Dawn found out there was an audio recording of it online.

    I think that was her biggest mistake in not coming out completely unscathed from this, because I think as a writer, you can take inspiration from anything and everything in life. But pulling that direct quote is kind of her Achilles heel in the story. Now, a lot of people, I think, are also going to say that her wrong behavior was having a mean group chat about Dawn's Facebook group. But I'm going to disagree and say that we are all capable of gossip. We've all sent a slightly rude text making fun of somebody. And I think that that is very human behavior.

    [Also] I don't even think that these people were necessarily like talking about Dawn prior to any of this. I think once she started emailing people asking why they weren't interacting with her posts is when the private conversations probably started, which is honestly what I would do too, because that behavior is unhinged.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, Black Panther star Letitia Wright has allegedly been spreading anti-COVID vaccine propaganda on the set of the film’s sequel.

    In other news, Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix stand-up special The Closer is being criticized for its anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans sentiments.

    Dave Chappelle performing standup in his special The Closer

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.