A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the night I was inundated with text messages containing pictures of men’s penises after a still-unknown Tinder user gave out my number, requesting these types of pictures. My tweets about this night went viral, to the point that my dad started asking me about it because he heard about it from a friend. (That was not my favorite conversation.) The story I wrote then delved into Tinder’s lack of any type of infrastructure to address online harassment and the fact that they didn’t seem to care much, with their response basically being “Not our problem, call the police.”
There’s been an unexpected update.
The night this was all happening, I was responding to these men, trying to get information out of them in an effort to discover who was behind this whole thing. One of them sent me a screenshot of the Tinder profile that was giving out my phone number. Her name was “Carilyn” and it looked like this:
In my prior post about this, I wrote that whoever this woman is in this picture, there’s a good chance she probably has no idea that this is even happening. Let alone knows there’s a picture of her with a caption that reads, “I’m super horny. No point in lying, right?”
Last Sunday night, my “dick pic” saga took off again after George Takei linked to a Distractify post about all of this on his Facebook page. One person out of the many who read Mr. Takei’s post was a woman named Shannon who, yes, happens to be the woman in the picture – a picture that was taken way back in 1999 on a trip to Juneau, Alaska.
Shannon reached out to me on Monday night through Twitter to tell me that she is in fact “Carilyn” and, of course, has no idea how her picture was used in any of this. Shannon (who requested her last name not be used for this story) provided me with other pictures from that trip to prove she was telling the truth. Shannon also friended me on Facebook as a sort of, “Hmm, do we have any friends in common? And if so, is that person responsible for this whole thing?” We did not. We are complete strangers and do not currently and never have lived anywhere near the same area.
I asked for her thoughts on what it’s like to learn from George Takei that you are part of a viral internet story and she agreed to share her version of the story. So, here is Shannon, describing what it was like to be reading what she thought was a humorous post George Takei had shared, then seeing a 1999 version of herself staring back at her.
It was Monday morning and I was at home on the sofa killing time on Facebook while waiting on some ibuprofen to kick in. At that moment I couldn’t even concentrate, I had such a miserable head and chest cold. George Takei always has fun and entertaining posts so I clicked on one of those, not even sure of the title. I’ve always loved him, initially because I am a huge Star Trek fan and then because of what he stands for on many different topics.
I was reading a hilarious story he re-posted from Distractify about some poor guy getting flooded with dick pics one evening. I was laughing and generally enjoying the story as well as being rather impressed with the way the guy, Mike, was handling it.
I got to the part where someone had finally provided a profile pic of the Tinder account trolling him and I vaguely remember thinking, Oh, I bet this is gonna be good. Do you know the sound a record player makes when you scratch the needle across the grooves? My brain made that sound as I found myself staring at a picture of me in Alaska back in 1999. I froze.