A few years ago my dating blog ‘30 Dates‘ went viral. Over the course of just a few months, what started as a bit of a joke on Facebook, ended up being national news. People all over the world were reading about my love life, and sending me questions about dating.
Through out it all, I wanted to make clear how much fun you could have being single. It wasn’t a blog about a heartbroken girl trying to find ‘the One’ – it was a journey where I truly made the most of single life, and came away happy and confident in myself. Off the back of the blog I ended up with a dream journalism job, and a reputation as a ‘dating expert’.
The blog was hosted by WordPress, and as a result, I could see how readers came across the blog. Behind the scenes, stats showed me how many people had clicked through from Facebook, Twitter, or another site. It was through these analytics that I stumbled upon a vile site by the name ‘Hamster Goldmine’. I won’t do it the credit of linking it, but basically it’s a woman-hating message board.
Using pseudonyms, men went on the forum and complained about women. From what I could gather, the name hamster was given to the site because they saw women as just pointlessly working away at stuff, with no results, but I may have got that wrong. The forum was full of men who felt wronged by women. Men who had never had relationships. Men who had been dumped. Some of the comments were horrendous. I felt like I’d fallen down a crazy rabbit hole – did people really think these things? This wasn’t the world I lived in.
And then I saw my name at the very top of one of the articles.
Underneath this article, which included links to my blog and my personal website, men I have never met picked me apart completely. There were photos of me, stolen from elsewhere on the internet, and comments about how old, fat and ugly I looked.
When I first read the posts, the first thing I noticed was how surprisingly unfazed I was. After a few months in the public sphere, and with a newfound confidence, I was surprisingly unaffected by a load of random strangers picking my appearance apart. This was a huge thing, because I had never been particularly body confident.
The second thing I noticed, which you might also have noticed, was that whoever had started this mean little conversation behind my back clearly knew me
I was completely shocked. What could I do? I posted a link to my private Facebook in utter disbelief …
My friends reacted on my behalf. Within minutes people were in uproar, rushing to my defence, reassuring me that none of it was true, and then scouring the site to try to identify who Daniel11 was. It didn’t take them too long. After all, he didn’t think I’d ever find out about the chat room … and while he was using a fake name, he had left a LOT of personal information about himself, scattered across the vile misogynist site.
Two different friends emailed me with detailed reports of everything they had found out about him, and I knew immediately who it was. It was my old next-door neighbour. He was a relatively attractive guy, a couple of years younger than me. He had moved in with his then girlfriend, and we had mutual friends (who it later transpired didn’t overly like him, and described him as a ‘mouthbreather’). He and his girlfriend had broken up and moved out, and he had popped up on my Tinder but I had swiped left. He’d messaged me a couple of times on Facebook in a bit of a flirty way, but I’d just ignored it.
Convinced it was him, I sent the following Facebook message …
That message at the bottom of the conversation is because as soon as he typed the ? he then blocked me from Facebook.
Detective job done.
My neighbour had been unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend and joined a misogynist chatroom. And because I hadn’t shown an interest when he’d been trying to flirt with me, and been happy and content in my single status, I had been the butt of his anger on a nasty chatroom. A chatroom which still exists. And a message board which I can’t take down – I’ve tried! Rob Moles deleted the account Daniel11 within 24 hours of me finding him out – but that didn’t remove his comments from the message board. And so my name, images and links to my blog remain on the nasty little troll mine.
You couldn’t make this sh*t up!