In class I saw my face on many Facebook timelines of student’s laptops in front of me. While I was walking on campus, every one of my friends who passed me stopped to ask how my Tinder impostor quest was going or asked to hear more about it. When I dropped off a check at a local restaurant to book the venue on behalf of my sorority chapter, the employee recognized my face when I handed it to her. The checkout man at Sutton’s enthusiastically told me he saw me on WRAL the night before and asked me to explain my situation… The list goes on and on. This has been my life the past few weeks.
The story about my stolen Tinder identity had hit the big leagues. Viral, I suppose, is the proper term. I received media attention from NBC News, WRAL, the Daily Tar Heel and many more all from my first initial blog post explaining my situation in which I shared on social media.
Now, more than three weeks later, the attention has very much died down. But, I still have multiple people a day ask me for updates on my quest. I can honestly say that I am tired of the attention. Sure, the first week of interview requests from WRAL and NBC News were two of the most exciting moments of my college academic career, but the continuous emails, Facebook messages, tweets and texts for various other interviews or simply just to chat, became exhausting. I wanted to be out of the media light that I had accidentally stepped into.
As a student with a dream of public relations, this was the perfect opportunity. I had a PR crisis of my own, and I had to fix it. I wore myself out responding to all of the people reaching out and fulfilling every interview I could possibly squeeze into my day on top of class and homework. The end of the day was a relief, a time of rest only to wake up and begin responding to more.
Not only was I working on my laptop and iPad to mend my PR crisis, I also, maybe more importantly, had to confront the issue head-on to all of my friends, family and fellow classmates during the day. The first people who asked me about what was happening with the fake Tinder account I was enthusiastic and excited to update them on the latest news, but soon it began tiring. Everyone I saw would greet me with “Oh my gosh, I read about your Tinder thing. What’s going on with that?!” Yes, everyone. I still get that question by friends I haven’t seen since the post hit popularity. Pretty crazy actually.
I’ve learned a few lessons from my experience. First, being a public relations specialist is a tough job. I was standing in as one for myself and I was exhausted even after the first day. I also learned, though, that this is the profession that I truly love and aspire to become a part of. Sure, it’s a tough job and is done very carefully, but it is rewarding when the perfect image of your client is restored and all is with peace in the world (or so it seems).
Also, I learned that it is not my personality to be in the spotlight. Having a class based around my situation (though I was very honored to have it) was simply not my style. Getting stopped by strangers and friends asking about my newfound spotlight made me uncomfortable and far from normal, which I very much enjoy being. Watching myself on the WRAL interview was painful and I had negative feelings about myself in front of a camera. Of course, this helped reassure my decision not to be a broadcast journalism major, I’ll simply stick to PR.
Last, I learned that anyone can be in the spotlight. You simply have to create an interesting story, publish it and share it. It’s that easy.