By now you're probably well-aware of the latest viral saga started by a Texas-based couple who live-tweeted two strangers meeting in front of them while on a flight to Dallas. The encounter was characterized as a romantic meet-cute by onlookers Rosey Blair and Houston Hardaway.
Blair said the story began when she asked a woman to switch seats so Blair could sit next to her boyfriend, Hardaway, on the flight.
"After we had settled into our seats, I made a joke about who her next seat partner would be," Blair told BuzzFeed News at the time.
"I thought it would be funny if it was a handsome man," she said. "And then — like magic — a handsome man appeared."
She and her boyfriend proceeded to observe and document every moment of the two strangers' interaction in a rom-com-like narrative.
Her initial tweet thread now has been retweeted nearly 370,000 times. Blair, Hardaway, and the "handsome man" who was later identified as Euan Holden have been featured on many local news outlets and the Today show. BuzzFeed News also covered the story and the internet's reaction to it.
Hashtags like #PlaneBae and #CatchingFlightsANDFeelings were quickly created to follow the live updates during and after the plane ride.
Blair has been sharing all of the coverage and providing the world with more updates on the two characters via her social media.
However, as Blair, Hardaway, and Holden enjoyed the flash of fame, the woman on the plane has intentionally tried to remain private. Holden recently shared a selfie video asking people to "respect [the woman's] privacy."
When Holden casually dropped her name in the video, internet sleuths tried to identify and track her down.
Blair and Hardaway also said that the woman didn't give consent for her identity or story to be shared. "We don't have the gal's permish yet," Blair said in a selfie video with her boyfriend. "But I'm sure you guys are sneaky." Blair has since taken down their video.
Over the last few days, multiple people have noted that the woman has reportedly deleted her social media channels after being doxxed and harassed.
Many people are now raising serious concerns about it all and criticizing the couple for encouraging it.
The backlash has extended to the internet in general and shed light on how we, as a modern society, are treating viral subjects differently based on gender.
Many who initially were enamored with the saga now are expressing some regret.
They are calling the voyeurism enabled by Blair and Hardaway "an invasion of privacy" and "creepy."
One person snarkily fired back at Blair's public attempt to be hired by BuzzFeed shortly after her tweets went mega-viral.
On BuzzFeed News' morning show AM to DM Monday, Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer for the Atlantic who's been outspoken in her criticism of the Texas couple's actions, sounded off about what she found "reprehensible" about the stunt.
"I think what they've done is reprehensible. I don't think they deserve fame. I think it's a gross invasion of privacy," Lorenz said.
She specifically cited the insertion of a "total BS romantic narrative" onto unsuspecting strangers as one of the most problematic aspects of the viral event.
"You're promoting a toxic idea of romance," she said.
Lorenz also believed the entire moment was self-serving for Blair.
"It's this woman seeking fame, and using it for it. ... She's retweeting praise of herself. She asked for a job at BuzzFeed. She's trying to exploit this for herself," she said.
In response to some of the initial backlash, Blair posted a photo of herself to Instagram and attempted to loosely address some of the concerns in a lengthy photo caption.
"I saw a story unfolding in front of my eyes recently and it filled me with the hope of possibility," she wrote.
She characterized her tweeting as a "strange variety of journalis[m]," and talked about her own story of finding a romantic partner.
"I am a plus size woman and for years, I believed dating and love were experiences that simply wouldn’t happen for me. I was proved wrong," she wrote.
"I hope that many of you are inspired by the story I shared. Sharing this story has also made me reconsider some of the thoughts of negativity I too have been guilty of putting out into the world."
BuzzFeed News has reached back out to Blair but didn't immediately hear back. Watch the full AM to DM segment here:
UPDATE: Blair issued a lengthy apology she shared on Twitter on Tuesday. She said she'll "offer [her] services" to the woman in her viral story and "will work to right...this wrong."
Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Chicago.
Contact Tanya Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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