I kept seeing "West Elm Caleb" trending. Apparently, a few women on TikTok realized they had all been on dates with the same guy, Caleb, who lives in New York City and designs furniture for West Elm.
Women alleged that they met him on the dating app, Hinge, and he sent unsolicited nude pictures, love bombed them, two-timed them, and ghosted them. TikTok users ganged up on this man, many of them who don't know him. It brought a lot of interesting conversations up — some women said this type of gossip keeps other women safe, while others say this is unfair bullying of a private citizen.
I live in New York City, I've used Hinge, I've dated guys that share some of Caleb's alleged traits, and I just moved, so I've been shopping on West Elm. When I have a personal connection to a trending story, I can't help but doodle it. I'm genuinely curious to know which pieces Caleb has designed, but since I will not be investigating, I just imagined it.
Anyway, funny cartoons aside, here's my take: It sounds like this guy is a jerk, and that most women would figure it out quickly, and maybe waste a few weeks of their life.
But, I understand that even a brief, undefined relationship can be painful. In one of my doodles about dating, I drew someone and said "dating a month, actually three times in one week, then nothing." It felt so intense and exciting, like something was starting. He was so into me, he had to see me. I was with my family one night but he couldn't wait, so I left early to meet him at a bar. Then he totally ghosted me. I didn't even like him that much, but I was hurt and confused. And I wanted the umbrella I lent him back!
Because of this guy (and unfortunately others), I understand the desire to warn other women and complain about these experiences. I guess I did that in my cartoons, but I do my best to keep everyone anonymous. I do think the online mob mentality and exposing and shaming someone publicly takes it way too far.
Media journalist Taylor Lorenz has been posting a lot about this and probably says it better than I can, so I encourage you to check it out if you want to go down this rabbit hole. Also, the book, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed," by Jon Ronson is excellent and talks about this mob mentality. It was written in 2012, but it's even more relevant today. I actually hope the author is updating it or writing a part two, because we need it.
Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly doodles, funny stories, and behind-the-scenes insights into the evolution of Danielle in Doodles here.