The Internet Communication Breakdown – ProJared and the Sh*tstorm that Followed

Sometimes I never know where to begin when I start writing one of these things. It’s hard to gauge where I set my scope. Am I making fun of 2019? Am I zooming in on the internet as a whole? Or the social media aspect of things? Any way you slice it, we’re communicating at a much different pace than years past, which should be obvious to anyone with, well, an internet connection.

You may be aware of a recent debacle in the YouTube community where game reviewer ProJared was revealed to have (allegedly) cheated on his wife Heidi O’Ferrall. This all came about in a series of early-morning tweets after ProJared revealed his divorce in a Twitter statement. Heidi then tweeted back and clarified after discovering her ex-husband had blocked her on the platform. Turns out, ProJared was sleeping with Commander Holly, who was once the wife of RubberRoss, who was once part of the YouTube gaming channel Game Grumps, who have since deleted all channel videos featuring ProJared. If that wasn’t confusing enough, it goes on to involve other YouTubers like PeanutButterGamer, whose tweets attempted to shame Heidi for calling out her ex, and JonTron, who was once friends with literally all the people involved.

Did I mention ProJared ran his own x-rated Tumblr where he’d exchange nude photos with fans, and there’s even allegations some fans were underage?

Why I even bring any of this up is just to highlight the ridiculous nature of the internet and how falling down one rabbit hole can lead you to seven more paths you never even thought you’d fall down.

I think whatever is going on ultimately needs to be resolved behind closed doors. However, making things so public like this allows for the commentary to flow in. And oh, how it flowed. My twitter timeline this morning was awash with photos of ProJared’s bare chest and blurred out d*ck pictures. There was more dirt being flung from all corners of the internet, not just the YouTube community. Blue Checkmarks from all sides of the political spectrum caught wind of this story and couldn’t help but comment. This entire story of a man’s infidelity was just so damn relatable, people felt almost compelled to comment. But now, as ProJared’s subscriber count continues its plummet, I have to wonder what’s next for everyone both on and offline.

I’m not about to turn this into a “How-To” for relationships. But there is something to be said about what seems to be a severe lack of communication on these fronts. Through Heidi, we learned that she was okay with ProJared’s Tumblr account and private lewd Snapchat, because there was an assumption of it only being used in a playful manner. Couples have arrangements all the time and I don’t judge anyone on that. What I don’t condone is taking someone’s trust and kicking it to the curb in order to fulfill one’s own selfish needs. Unions are about growing as a couple. If you legally bind yourself to another person, you essentially operate as two parts of the same unit, not separate entities who can just steamroll whichever side they please. Without effective communication between two people who have chosen to spend their lives together, any union like that is screwed right from Jump Street.

All that being said, I think a lot of people responding to this sh*tstorm used it as an excuse to step up onto a perceived moral highground. We don’t know ProJared personally, so we can dilute him simply to a situation in order to dunk on it for likes and retweets. By perpetuating that cycle, we’re not exactly finding ways in order to make sure a sh*tstorm of this magnitude doesn’t happen again.

How do we do that? By putting your ego aside for one second so you can listen to what your partner is saying. If not your partner, then the person you’re arguing with on twitter-dot-com.

We’ve got a listening problem lately. It feels like we’re not tolerating bullsh*t anymore. What we once got away with, we can no longer get away with. No one stands for grandstanding and we’re more comfortable calling out the objectively weird. But now, we’re in a state of not knowing what to do with all our moral highground energy. Too many of us are using it to fluff our own egos instead of taking it in a different direction and creating, pardon the expression, a ‘teachable moment.’ Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s funny to get caught up in the schadenfreude. But in an age of a mile-a-second news cycle, giant stories like this can last all day with everyone forgetting by nightfall. And how can we expect to grow if we’re just sitting around waiting for the next thing to make fun of?

Learning effective communication isn’t an overnight process. We have to be willing to look at where we go wrong first in order to find success with the “next time.” I don’t want to be Captain NoFun, but I also don’t want to stand for this constant barrage of f*ck up after f*ck up with no end in sight. It’s like a constant merry-go-round of deja vu and the conductor stepped away for an indefinite break.

I may be setting my sights too high and living in too much of an idealized state, but I hope a takeaway is this: No matter how great you think your power (d*ck) is, a sh*tstorm is always waiting in the wings for the moment your wielding goes rogue.

Tread carefully.

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