Imagine a TikTok video of you going viral and becoming the subject of an intense internet investigation, with sleuths looking at each frame of the clip to study your body language...

Well, that’s exactly what happened with Robbie McCoy - most famously known as “couch guy.”

Now he has spoken out about his unwanted viral fame, penning an article for Slate titled: “I’m the TikTok Couch Guy. Here’s What It Was Like Being Investigated on the Internet.”

Back in September, McCoy’s long-distance girlfriend Lauren Zarras decided to surprise him by turning up announced, and innocently filmed his and posted a 19-second video of his reaction to TikTok.

But soon, the video’s popularity skyrocketed, going viral with tens of millions of views - 64m at the time of writing this - and McCoy’s reaction to seeing his girlfriend didn’t satisfy the millions of strangers who came across the video on their For You page, accusing him of cheating, or saying his behaviour was a red flag.

It even became a TikTok trend to recreate Zarras’ video, with “couch guy” becoming the latest meme.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

However, McCoy revealed the scary realities of being an unwanted viral villain when online sleuths “took to public online forums to sniff out my name, birthdate, and place of residence.”

@laurenzarras

robbie had no idea

Here are the best quotes from McCoy’s article:

On the body language analysis by tabloid media

“This tabloid body language analysis—something typically reserved for Kardashians, the British royal family, and other A-listers—made me, a private citizen who had previously enjoyed his minimal internet presence, an unwilling recipient of the celebrity treatment.”

On the aftermath of becoming viral

“I have come to tolerate looks of vague recognition and occasional selfie requests from strangers in public. And my digital scarlet letter has not carried much weight offline, given that Lauren and the other co-stars of the now-infamous video know my true character.”

On the real anxiety

“...my anxiety rests only in the prospect that the invasive TikTok sleuthing I experienced was not an isolated instance, but rather—as tech writer Ryan Broderick has suggested—the latest manifestation of a large-scale sleuthing culture.”

Advice on when the TikTok algorithm creates another “couch guy”

“When they appear on your For You page, I implore you to remember that they are people, not mysteries for you to solve.”

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)