Nobody likes rejection. But there's no reason to get nasty about it.
For the men of Internet dating who struggle with that concept, there's the Instagram account Bye Felipe. Created by Alexandra Tweten, formerly of Climax, Minn., the @byefelipe account is a collection of screenshots of (often profane) online harassment with the stated goal: "Calling out dudes who turn hostile when rejected or ignored."
Since Bye Felipe launched Oct. 13, Tweten, 27, has gained national attention and the account has attracted more than 230,000 followers. (The Bye Felipe name is a reference to Bye Felicia, a meme based on the 1995 comedy film "Friday.") It's the latest example of an Internet ablaze over harassment against women, from the anti-feminist screeds of #Gamergate to a viral catcall video.
Tweten talked by phone from Los Angeles, where she now lives, about fighting online abuse with a sense of humor.
Q: Why did you start Bye Felipe?
A: The whole thing sort of came out of a conversation on Facebook when a woman posted the screen shot of something that she had gotten on OkCupid. The guy wanted to start a conversation with her and she didn't respond, and he just said, "[expletive]" — 12 hours later. I saw that and thought it was really funny. I had recently had an experience that was similar on OkCupid, where a guy messaged me asking if I wanted to chat. But he had sent me the same message — copy and pasted — like three times. So finally I said, "No." Then he lashed out and said, "Why the [expletive] not?" Which was really ridiculous. I posted that screenshot and other women who saw it said, "Hey, I've gotten similar messages." That's where the idea started.
Q: What's surprised you about the response?
A: I've gotten tons of thank-you notes from people, just e-mailing or messaging me on Facebook, saying, "Thank you so much for putting these guys on blast and for putting this out in the open." I've gotten messages from women saying, "Thank you. Now I know I'm not the only one who gets these." I've gotten apology messages from guys saying, "I'm sorry on behalf of my gender." The response has been really positive.
Q: That's good. I was wondering if it's a downer to get all these snapshots of harassment.
A: My inbox is full right now. I've got like 800 submissions to go through. Some of them are scary. I try to bring humor to it, so I don't always post the more serious ones, but it's definitely common. It's not like we're getting these terrible messages every single day, but it happens to every woman who is on a dating site.
Q: How should women deal with nasty online messages?
A: Take a screen capture and send it to Bye Felipe. Then promptly report and/or block the person who is sending these messages.
Q: Any idea what's next for Bye Felipe?
A: I never thought that it would ever get this big. I'm thinking about maybe selling merchandise and donating to a good cause. I want to continue posting and make sure women's voices are heard.