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I am not talking about love on a roof in Brooklyn
November 20, 2013 10:12 AM   Subscribe

A couple made the mistake of breaking up on a NYC rooftop next to comedian Kyle Ayers, who promptly live-tweeted their breakup with the hashtag #roofbreakup, which went viral, prompting not only retweets, commentary, and memeification, but also a video re-enactment. However, some are considering the wider implications of this kind of phenomenon, pondering the ethics of the panopticon, live reportage on ordinary people, and even the nature of relationships itself in the context of the pair.

As the LA Times notes,
"Are average people entitled to no privacy whatsoever anymore? This wasn't a huge public fight on the subway or something we're all talking about here, it wasn't Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton, it was two people working through a moment of intimacy on a rooftop, going through what is, for many of us, one of the harder-to-deal-with arguments we can have: the end of a love affair. Perhaps some discretion should be considered? Or are we way beyond that point now?"
posted by corb (237 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reading through, I started to feel the way you do when you're privvy to intimacy you haven't earned, right around the tweet that used someone's given name.

Not necessarily bad or gross or whatever, just: whoah, this got really real really fast. Too real. Too fast.
posted by Poppa Bear at 10:19 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, people really do have stereotypically gendered romances. Huh. I'm glad I don't know any (or many) of those people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:23 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't decide which is worse - the guy who thinks it's hilarious to broadcast a couple's relationship talk (yes it's kind of ridiculous, but who among us has not had an analogous ridiculous relationship talk we would not want to have broadcast over twitter?), or the millions of folks who have let this rather inconsequential and banal and utterly stereotypical fight consume their entire week.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:23 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Panopticon? Hyperbole much?

The couple are identified as "girl" and "guy" and according to Ayers knew they were in public ("They didn't seem to care that a bunch of people were up there already").

Not exactly the worst invasion of privacy ever.
posted by ook at 10:24 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a good post about this phenomenon. I am all for some funny invasions of privacy. But this isn't funny at all. Just a mediocre jerk ineptly reporting some people he was eavesdropping on going through a heartbreak.

My list of Comedians Who Ruin The Internet for the rest of us is now 2 people long.
1. Joe Mande
2. this jerk

In summary, before "livetweeting" something real, try to remember how your High School English teacher defined "empathy", even if the concept is naturally foreign to you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:25 AM on November 20, 2013 [28 favorites]


The couple are identified as "girl" and "guy"

The tweets mention the girl's name.
posted by troika at 10:25 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


But, if you're in public, you're not really in private. If you don't want those people right over there to over hear you, move. I mean, it's weird, but it's also weird that they decided to break up in front of a bunch of people on their roof.

This is pretty much like, if you're in the street, I can take your picture, except with words.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:26 AM on November 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton

If somebody wants me to seriously think about their point, putting this amazing picture in my head is very distracting to the cause.

When I originally read the tweets, I was disappointed that the punchline wasn't that the mysterious texts the guy was receiving wasn't from one of his friends saying "Dude, somebody is totally live tweeting your break up." I still like to imagine that happened.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:26 AM on November 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


You could just tweet out of The End of the Affair

“If I'm a bitch and a fake, is there nobody who will love a bitch and a fake?”


“I measured love by the extent of my jealousy.”


“I can never think of you as a friend. You can do without a friend.”


“What happens if you drop all the things that make you I?”


“It was as though our love were a small creature caught in a trap and bleeding to death: I had to shut my eyes and wring its neck.”


&c...
posted by chavenet at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [20 favorites]


I thought this was fake, so I wasn't that worried about it being mean spirited or an invasion of privacy. Even if real, the comedian definitely seems to have added some embellishments.

That video reenactment just shows everything that's different about LA/NYC. No one else is on that roof, it's obviously not a place people congregate like they do in NYC.
posted by sweetkid at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


it wasn't Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton

I'm still hoping those crazy kids will work it out. Team Kanyon 4 eva!
posted by yoink at 10:28 AM on November 20, 2013 [26 favorites]


I am all for some funny invasions of privacy. But this isn't funny at all. Just a mediocre jerk ineptly reporting some people he was eavesdropping on going through a heartbreak.

Yeah, the OMG PRIVACY stuff is kind of whatever compared to the unfunniness and and sort of sadness of the whole I'M GONNA LIVE TWEET THIS thing.

I'm pretty sure the only reason this blew up like it did is for the same reason people love reality television: because it makes us all feel better about our own fucked up lives and relationships when we are presented with someone who is seemingly doing an even worse job at it. Which like, fuck that.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:28 AM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thankfully, I can only imagine how violated those two people feel (and I would be willing to bet that they know about it by now). Ugh.
posted by Etrigan at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


But, if you're in public, you're not really in private.

I think the interesting point, for me as a New Yorker, is I'm not really sure where I could go to be utterly private without driving some hours out of the city. In apartments, they are certainly not soundproof - in the outdoors, there is always someone watching.

I can't remember enough of it to search, but I remember we talked a bit about this in a thread about a photographer who was photographing into people's windows for his gallery - what do you do in places where the cultural expectation is to pretend there is privacy, but no actual privacy?
posted by corb at 10:30 AM on November 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


The tweets mention the girl's name.

Eh, I feel pretty confident there's more than on chick named Rachel in the whole of Brooklyn. If the couple were identified I'd be more squicked out, but as it is it just reminds me of James Joyce's diary of overheard conversations or Metropolitan Diary in the Times or even Overheard In New York. Playing part time anthropologist is one of the joys of city living.
posted by Diablevert at 10:30 AM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, people really do have stereotypically gendered romances. Huh. I'm glad I don't know any (or many) of those people.

So... Edgy...
posted by entropicamericana at 10:31 AM on November 20, 2013 [83 favorites]


Oh Brooklyn, what is it about you that makes your inhabitants believe that the excruciating minutia of their lives and lives of those around them is interesting and fodder for public consumption.

Oh Hell, maybe it really is more interesting if it happens in Brooklyn. Maybe that should be the motto, instead of the outdated "City of churches" adopt "Everything is more interesting in Brooklyn" as part of a re-branding campaign.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:31 AM on November 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


In apartments, they are certainly not soundproof - in the outdoors, there is always someone watching.

You can certainly talk quiet enough in your apartment or in a park with nobody around so that nobody else will hear you. Heck, you can even do it walking down the street with people all around you.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:32 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This isn't sad. What's sad is that Carlos Mencia will do this very same thing six months from now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on November 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


A couple made the mistake of breaking up on a NYC rooftop next to comedian Kyle Ayers

This is why you NEVER sit in the front row when there is a comedian on the stage.
posted by three blind mice at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get what's so funny about this either. Other than laughing at some people having a painful conversation.

So they say some ridiculous stuff get a bit melodramatic. What do you expect when two people are breaking up and dealing with a whirlwind of emotions? Is there really an expectation that every utterance be perfectly rational?
posted by mcmile at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


what do you do in places where the cultural expectation is to pretend there is privacy, but no actual privacy?

That, I don't know, but it doesn't seem to be the specific case, here. If you're within sight and earshot of someone in a public space, you're not really in private, is all I'm saying.

Also, New York.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh Brooklyn, what is it about you that makes your inhabitants believe that the excruciating minutia of their lives and lives of those around them is interesting and fodder for public consumption.

I don't think the conversation was tweeted because the person thought it was interesting and fodder for public consumption. Being in Brooklyn had nothing to do with it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2013


"it was two people working through a moment of intimacy on a rooftop"

The argument ends there for me.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


The young woman has roommates. The rooftop may be the only privacy she has.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2013 [31 favorites]


Yeah, the OMG PRIVACY stuff is kind of whatever compared to the unfunniness and and sort of sadness of the whole I'M GONNA LIVE TWEET THIS thing.

I'm pretty sure the only reason this blew up like it did is for the same reason people love reality television: because it makes us all feel better about our own fucked up lives and relationships when we are presented with someone who is seemingly doing an even worse job at it. Which like, fuck that.


Word, all of this.

Also it blew up partially because Brooklyn and because people love to be OMG Brooklyn assholes so. It's not that it would be less interesting if it happened in Kansas City, it just wouldn't have the same cultural context.
posted by sweetkid at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


In Austin, you get privacy on the rooftop because who in the hell is going to go up there, it's 130 degrees, yo.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:36 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


So there you have it: just cause you can twit that argument you overheard doesn't necessarily mean you should.

I mean, "tweet." It also means, just cause you can read that argument that that guy tweeted, doesn't mean you should. Even though you thought it might be, in some way, different than every other miserable argument between two people you might have ever had the misfortune to overhear - because, you know the guy who tweeted it said it was crazy.
So I learned that lesson
posted by From Bklyn at 10:38 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I imagine there was hand-wringing of this sort (the panopticon, Oh My!) when the camera first burst upon the scene. Lots of folks want their every thought broadcast to the world (thus the popularity if the twitterverse) while others see the end of the world in every new development. For my money, i think it's more likely that the next couple will purposely break up loudly in public, hoping for 15 minutes of internet fame, than someone will be hurt by this type of invasion of not very private privacy.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:38 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


How interesting it is that if a friend were to recount the fairly ordinary break-up conversation of some random strangers to you in great and spiteful detail, you'd think your friend was mean-spirited and change the subject, and it would quickly get boring anyway ("and then he said "but I don't like labels" and she said....") but of course if it's tweeted to an audience of hundreds of thousands it becomes entertaining. To some people, anyway.

Human beings are no damn good, that's all. If there's a petty, cruel or stupid thing we can do, enough of us will do it to ruin things for everyone; if there's some crass way to raise your profile as a comedian at the expense of randos in their worst moments, some jackass will do that too. I confidently expect that as really intense coverage of civil violence becomes routine, we'll get hecklers there too ("and as he was dying the big tough dude cried for his mama, lolz!!!!")
posted by Frowner at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


We do good things too though Frowner check out these Upworthy videos [insert 4,000 links]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


I Thought It Was The World's Greatest Tragedy. But Then I Saw This Pioneering Vlog.
I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It may indiscrete to to let your personal drama unfold where others may happen to hear it, but it's so much more fucking pathetic to eavesdrop on others' so intently. And then rebroadcast it to as large an audience as possible.
posted by klarck at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


I Wish I Was More Revolted By What This Hack Comedian Exposed, But I'm Not.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


I remember we talked a bit about this in a thread about a photographer who was photographing into people's windows for his gallery what do you do in places where the cultural expectation is to pretend there is privacy, but no actual privacy?

Actually, there you have the legal expectation of privacy. If this guy had been listening through a wall, he would have been breaking the law in some way or another to tweet their conversations.

I'm not really trying to speak to the sagacity of doing the thing he did, and it does seem mean-spirited to make fun of someone's emotional turmoil; maybe the comedian is a complete asshole, I don't know, but they really weren't in private.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into laughter.
posted by Steakfrites at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah if your first response to people's emotions is to shame them via public exposure, it's time for a mental health check up.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Try Not To Rage When You Contemplate This Dying of the Light
Get ready to spend the rest of the day trying to pick your jaw up off the floor.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


That breakup was sad, and this comedian is not a nice person.
posted by JanetLand at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only thing that's "new" in this is its instantaneity. The New Yorker has been doing "overheard in..." columns for decades and you could find similar kinds of things in Punch in the nineteenth century. It's interesting, though, how the instantaneous nature of the reporting does, in fact, increase the sense of a violation of privacy.
posted by yoink at 10:45 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


they really weren't in private.

Screw the law? Their conversation was intimate and ethically should not have been broadcast. Tweeting it wasn't funny and does make this guy an asshole. Your legal argument is way beside the point.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


The New Yorker has been doing "overheard in..." columns

The difference is that those selected to be funny.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only thing that's "new" in this is its instantaneity. The New Yorker has been doing "overheard in..." columns for decades and you could find similar kinds of things in Punch in the nineteenth century. It's interesting, though, how the instantaneous nature of the reporting does, in fact, increase the sense of a violation of privacy.

But an awful lot of the ones in the New Yorker and Punch were made up, as far as I know. (I read a biography of William Shawn a long time ago which talked about this.)
posted by Frowner at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The young woman has roommates. The rooftop may be the only privacy she has.

No. It is not. Because there was a dude. On the rooftop. Who was already there when they went up there. (Along with, possibly, some other people?) Who they were well aware of and decided to have it out in front of anyway. They have feet. If they didn't want to make this dude privy to their emotional lives, they could have used them to head back down the stairs, to her place or his place or the laundry room or a cab or the million other places there are in the city for two grown ass people to go and talk.
posted by Diablevert at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry, but breaking up on a rooftop or not, it doesn't mean some asshole has a right to broadcast it to the planet. Imagine yourself having some drama in someplace other than your home, then imagine a stranger within reach on Facetime or Skype broadcasting it and a third person recording it and putting it up on Youtube. We need to develop mores about this really quickly. Just because you CAN do something asshatty doesn't mean you SHOULD.
posted by nevercalm at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2013 [32 favorites]


Tweeting it wasn't funny and does make this guy an asshole.

Oh, I totally agree with you on that, now that I've read through the whole thing. It was purely salaciousness with no real redeeming value for him to do that.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2013


Yeah this is fake as hell, sorry.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The difference is that those selected to be funny.

Well, sure; this "comedian" picked a crappy conversation to report to the world. My point, though, is that the "OMG, we're living in the panopticon!!" stuff is off base. We've had the technological capacity to A) overhear a conversation and B) write down and publish what we overheard for a very long time. If this asshole had videoed the conversation, now, that would be a bit more Brave New World-y, or if he'd used a drone to eavesdrop or something. But, really, the only thing Twitter is bringing to this party as that the publication is very rapid and that it's broken up into lots of little bits.
posted by yoink at 10:52 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So... Edgy..."

I don't even understand this response or why others apparently thought it was clever. I wasn't trying to be outre or controversial or anything.

I just find it pretty amazing that there are actually young people who break up because the woman wants a commitment, or even a statement of love, and the man "doesn't like labels", etc. Besides being walking stereotypes, they're like aliens to me and, yeah, I'm glad that so few of the people I know aren like this that I find it remarkable to be reminded that other people are. And I find it depressing that apparently many other people take it for granted that this couple is typical.

"Yeah, I'm sorry, but breaking up on a rooftop or not, it doesn't mean some asshole has a right to broadcast it to the planet."

I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I don't really think that the couple has a complaint that their breakup was made public, because there isn't any connection between these tweets and them as actual people. Excepting the "Rachel" bit, which I think was bad. On the other hand, by standing there and paying attention to their argument, and then using it for his own purposes, he clearly does violate some boundaries. Sure, they were in public, but that doesn't make it right for other people to metaphorically stare at them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:54 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It may not be the part of this written by a "comedian," but that Time article is hilarious and appears to be an early beta test of some form of computerized pundit-column generator. Look out, clickbait world! ModernLoveBot is coming, and non sequiturs will never be the same.
posted by RogerB at 10:55 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


A difference between writing down conversations and publishing them somewhere is that this dude and other assholes out there are incentivized on twitter to exploit the misery of strangers due to all the attention they get as a "Hilarious Comedian". Look at his feed (if you can stomach metric tons of smug self-congratulations).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, really, the only thing Twitter is bringing to this party as that the publication is very rapid and that it's broken up into lots of little bits.

That's a pretty big "only." If this had happened pre-Twitter, it might be an email (assuming the guy had a laptop on the roof), and Ayers probably wouldn't have had thousands of people on his mailing list to send it to, and those people wouldn't just be able to RT it to everyone they know with two keystrokes. Twitter makes this sort of thing easy enough to be practical.
posted by Etrigan at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is fake as hell, sorry.

It has to be, either that or dramatically embellished. This guy just happened to be near a breakup, declared that he was going to livetweet it, and it just happened to contain 'hilarious' statements?
posted by troika at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2013


corb: " I think the interesting point, for me as a New Yorker, is I'm not really sure where I could go to be utterly private without driving some hours out of the city. In apartments, they are certainly not soundproof - in the outdoors, there is always someone watching. "

There are lots of unattached one family houses outside of Manhattan but still in NYC. Within subway, bus or LIRR distance. That don't require driving for "hours." There are also still quite a few public places in Eastern Queens that you can be in private with no one around. We have large parks and beaches with sections that see very little (if any) foot traffic.
posted by zarq at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is fake as hell, sorry.

It has to be, either that or dramatically embellished. This guy just happened to be near a breakup, declared that he was going to livetweet it, and it just happened to contain 'hilarious' statements?


I don't find anything in that entire stream to be at all out of place. I've had breakups that have followed that same script, with the substitution of "parking lot in Santa Monica" for "roof in Brooklyn."
posted by Etrigan at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's a pretty big "only." If this had happened pre-Twitter, it might be an email (assuming the guy had a laptop on the roof), and Ayers probably wouldn't have had thousands of people on his mailing list to send it to, and those people wouldn't just be able to RT it to everyone they know with two keystrokes. Twitter makes this sort of thing easy enough to be practical.

Seriously, am I the only one left on the Internet who remembers Overheard In New York? Was from about 10 years ago? Big fad for it, was exactly this, but highly edited for cattiness?
posted by Diablevert at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


If this had happened pre-Twitter, it might be an email

Yes it might. Or a column in a mass-circulation newspaper. Or a magazine. Or part of a humorous book etc. etc. etc. Any one of which might have had a far, far larger number of readers than this little Twitter tizzy.
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2013


...'hilarious' statements...

How the fuck is that hilarious?! That you saw Lisa? Is Lisa a poodle on her hind legs? How is that hilarious? Was she standing next to Jerry Lewis when he was younger? How the fuck is that hilarious? Do you know what hilarious means? Hilarious means so funny that you almost went insane when you heard that shit. It’s just so funny that it almost ruined your life. You’re homeless now because you can’t cope or reason anymore because that hilarious thing just shattered your mind. And three months later you’ve got shit and leaves in your hair and you’re drenched in pee in the gutter. That’s how funny hilarious is.
posted by Behemoth at 11:01 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Diablevert: " Seriously, am I the only one left on the Internet who remembers Overheard In New York? Was from about 10 years ago? Big fad for it, was exactly this, but highly edited for cattiness?"

They're still around. I like "Overheard in the Newsroom"
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This seems overblown. I fail to see the problem here, we don't even know if this actually happened, and if it did, the people involved aren't identified beyond one of their first names (WOULDN'T WANT TO BE NAMED RACHEL IN BROOKLYN RIGHT NOW, RIGHT GUYS?). I don't think it's particularly funny or anything, but to me it is interesting to hear how other people break up and how poorly some people communicate in this situation.
posted by Hoopo at 11:04 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is a difference between doing something in public in front of a few random people you'll never meet again vs having a permanent record put up on a world stage where everyone you know and ever will know will see it.

Perhaps we as a society should come up with more than two levels of privacy (ultra secret and world stage permanent record).
posted by HappyEngineer at 11:05 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seriously, am I the only one left on the Internet who remembers Overheard In New York?

It's somewhat more difficult to pass OINY to hundreds of other people, who then passed it to hundreds of other people, etc. etc., than it is to retweet.

If this had happened pre-Twitter, it might be an email

Yes it might. Or a column in a mass-circulation newspaper. Or a magazine. Or part of a humorous book etc. etc. etc. Any one of which might have had a far, far larger number of readers than this little Twitter tizzy.


And all of which would have editors and publishers and many other steps along the way, some of which would likely have said to Ayers, "Yes, but it's not funny. You heard a couple break up? I heard three people break up in the cafeteria last week. What's the point, Kyle?"
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is pretty much like, if you're in the street, I can take your picture, except with words.

But if you took that picture and put it on your blog with big flashing signs saying "hey everyone look at this isn't it funny", that'd kind of make you a jerk.

Except with words.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look at his feed (if you can stomach metric tons of smug self-congratulations).


Kyle Ayers ‏@kyleayers 19 Nov

I feel like this roof breakup thing was a good transition period for the internet to shift from Batkid to George Zimmerman.


Ugh.
posted by sweetkid at 11:07 AM on November 20, 2013


Really? It's Twitter so it's somehow different from overhearing a great piece of drama between two people in public, going home and writing it into your novel?

And observational comedy depends on... oh, what's the word... oh yes. Observation. Which means watching people. Stealing what they do.

Yes,it can be seen as crass. but then writers frequently are. Nobody's privacy was violated, assuming even that it all happened exactly as described. I too am guilty of posting juicy excerpts from other people's conversations on social media (and other things, like measuring the sound level of particularly LOUD PEOPLE on public transport before tweeting them), but whether they're real people or whether I made it up or whether it's a bit like what really happened, nobody can tell.

As here,
posted by Devonian at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only 'amazing' thing about any of this is that it went viral.

WTF, are we that starved for entertainment??

*mind boggles*
posted by Salamander at 11:11 AM on November 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Are average people entitled to no privacy whatsoever anymore? This wasn't a huge public fight on the subway or something we're all talking about here, it wasn't Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton, it was two people working through a moment of intimacy on a rooftop, going through what is, for many of us, one of the harder-to-deal-with arguments we can have: the end of a love affair. Perhaps some discretion should be considered? Or are we way beyond that point now?"

Relaying on others for your rights isn't going to get a person anywhere. If you're going to have an argument on a rooftop with a stranger, then things might happen. You can think it's wrong all you want, but if that guy on the rooftop doesn't and has a smartphone, then you might be shit out of luck.

Welcome to the 21 century.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Salamander: " WTF, are we that starved for entertainment??"

Yes. Have you seen any of the shows on Bravo lately?
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, It isn't like stuff like this didn't happen in Brooklyn pre-twitter. People fought, boke-up in public. Neighbors peered out of windows, maybe called each other. The little old ladies I was around would gather on stoops to re-hash the incident. Most people knew each other and the couple in question. It was just like regular small town gossip.

Why I think this particular event is interesting is that this guy's neighborhood is pretty much the global internet. He may not know any of his physical neighbors, can't commiserate with them, cant't stop by and ask if they are ok. He doesn't gather on the stoop and re-hash the incident.

This isn't just one of my standard old timey Brooklyn nonsense rants. I think this is a shift in the very nature of human society. Some of us are no longer bound by physical limits in who we choose to associate with. We gossip not with out neighbors, but with the global internet.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:18 AM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Eh, I feel pretty confident there's more than on chick named Rachel in the whole of Brooklyn.

The young woman has roommates

The guy's name is Ross?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:22 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Friends didn't take place in Brooklyn.
posted by sweetkid at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2013


Remember old New York when people minded their own business?
posted by cazoo at 11:24 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, people really do have stereotypically gendered romances. Huh. I'm glad I don't know any (or many) of those people.

I don't even understand this response or why others apparently thought it was clever. I wasn't trying to be outre or controversial or anything.

I just find it pretty amazing that there are actually young people who break up because the woman wants a commitment, or even a statement of love, and the man "doesn't like labels", etc. Besides being walking stereotypes, they're like aliens to me and, yeah, I'm glad that so few of the people I know aren like this that I find it remarkable to be reminded that other people are. And I find it depressing that apparently many other people take it for granted that this couple is typical.


I think it's because your statement indicated shock at facing the result of thousands of years of convention. It was a little "Yay me! I'm soo past all that man + woman stuff." Well, man + woman makes the wheels go round. Everything else makes the bus more interesting (racing stripes, flames, wheelie bar). Neither one ought to be mocked in favor of the other.

On the topic itself, I didn't find anything funny. But it was interesting to me in an almost journalistic sense. I liked seeing an accurate depiction of a rough emotional situation, but there was certainly no comedy to it.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:26 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


If this were actually juicy, if it were actually funny, I would understand how it might not be mean-spirited, just a found-gem moment of great snatched conversation, which people do all the time.

But this wasn't that. This breakup isn't particularly funny. It's actually mundane. This was purely, for lack of a better word, predatory -- this was, "I have a chance to live-tweet something people wouldn't want me to live-tweet, that would probably embarrass them, that's probably painful for them, and I'm going to tell you all of it, and we'll all laugh at them, because we're bored."

The only thing that's funny in the entire thing, to me, is the line about going for pizza, and if he'd tweeted, "These people who are breaking up on the roof of my building just paused to discuss going out for pizza," that would be one thing. This wasn't that. This was "Settle in; I'm going to splatter this all over the place, even though I know they wouldn't want me to, no matter how interesting it is or isn't, because they don't want me to, and I can."

It's so smug to be like, "If you don't want people to tweet everything you say on the internet, say it in private," but who lives like that? I like the idea of people being able to go out for drinks, have a talk with a friend, and have other people assume that sticking their heads over the edge of the booth to eavesdrop and tweet the entire conversation would be, while not illegal, kind of a dick move. Ditto specifically sitting there eavesdropping on somebody else's conversation, tweeting the whole thing, and bragging about what a bad-ass you are.

He particularly found it hilarious when he realized that they specifically feared he might be listening and concluded he wasn't. I don't understand the upside of this; it wasn't funny. It's just mean. I'm not saying he ought to be arrested, but I think he acted like a complete jackass, and it's not the kind of world I would prefer to live in.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:31 AM on November 20, 2013 [54 favorites]


Oh Brooklyn, what is it about you that makes your inhabitants believe that the excruciating minutia of their lives and lives of those around them is interesting and fodder for public consumption.

You mean this started before Sex and the City?
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


. It was a little "Yay me! I'm soo past all that man + woman stuff." Well, man + woman makes the wheels go round. Everything else makes the bus more interesting (racing stripes, flames, wheelie bar). Neither one ought to be mocked in favor of the other.

It's not being past "man + woman" stuff, it's that men aren't like THIS and women aren't like THAT. That's what I think Ivan's comment was about.
posted by sweetkid at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


At one point, the guy says "I don't think we need to talk about this up here with some random guy over there."

I know this makes me an even more horrible person than Ayers, but I can't help snickering when I think about Guy bumping into him, going "You're that random guy who tweeted our breakup!" and giving him a bloody nose.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2013


I think I've come around on this issue. It's not that people have lost a sense of personal privacy, it's that people have lost a sense of mind-your-own-fucking-business.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


You mean this started before Sex and the City?

Sex and the City had a (already out of date) view of Brooklyn that was one of disdain and "ew bridge and tunnel."

The Brooklyn phenomenon is separate from whatever Manhattan has had going on since the 80s or 90s or whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not an example of "comedy" or "humour", it's an example of voyeurism, pure and simple, and therein lies the attraction.

The popularity of the meme isn't particularly remarkable if one thinks about how gross a place the internet is.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's so much more fucking pathetic to eavesdrop on others' so intently

Eavesdropping is fascinating.

The comedian was making fun of them both but mostly the dicky "no labels" guy, from his #teamrachel tag and his "ooh sick burn" comment. And I see no reason to believe whatsoever that this was fake? Maybe embellished, but have you never heard people say shit like this? They say shit like this all the time.

I'd like to think that if this happened to me I would have a sense of "well, shit" about it. Because what else can you do? It's not even particularly embarrassing, there's a low chance it will end up sticking to anybody, and if you're in this kind of relationship with a ridiculous manchild you have to eventually have a sense of humor about it. I thought it was entertaining. I do not pass up the chance to eavesdrop on drama. I have an unquenchable thirst for hearing how other people conduct their relationships. That's why I read books and shit.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:41 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just read the tweets and they're actually sort of beautiful.

Head in hands. Awaits answer about love.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, there you have the legal expectation of privacy. If this guy had been listening through a wall, he would have been breaking the law in some way or another to tweet their conversations.


There is a feature in spy law that some lawyers understand but I definitely do not. You can take some laborious and or expensive effort to spy on people with some freedom but when you disclose it is where you're illegal. Maybe the law writers presume if you didn't disclose it there's almost no way to prove you did it?
posted by bukvich at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2013


It's so smug to be like, "If you don't want people to tweet everything you say on the internet, say it in private," but who lives like that?

Lots of people? There are plenty of conversations I would have in private because I'm not comfortable having them in public with people within earshot. A breakup is one of them. There is absolutely nothing smug about that.
posted by Hoopo at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Linda_Holmes: " It's so smug to be like, "If you don't want people to tweet everything you say on the internet, say it in private," but who lives like that? I like the idea of people being able to go out for drinks, have a talk with a friend, and have other people assume that sticking their heads over the edge of the booth to eavesdrop and tweet the entire conversation would be, while not illegal, kind of a dick move. Ditto specifically sitting there eavesdropping on somebody else's conversation, tweeting the whole thing, and bragging about what a bad-ass you are.

He particularly found it hilarious when he realized that they specifically feared he might be listening and concluded he wasn't. I don't understand the upside of this; it wasn't funny. It's just mean. I'm not saying he ought to be arrested, but I think he acted like a complete jackass, and it's not the kind of world I would prefer to live in.
"

Agreed.

One of the more interesting aspects about living in New York City that seems to require a period of adjustment for new residents, is that there are unspoken etiquette rules for living with and moving in crowds of people, and for pretending to give privacy and personal space to others. In cities that are this crowded, a certain level of kindness or indifference is required if people are going to continue to get along.

For example, the polite thing to do on public transportation (specifically the subway and bus) is not make eye contact with (or worse, stare at) your fellow passengers even if you are sitting across from each other. You don't lean on people and avoid invading their personal space as much as possible. If people are having an intense and obviously personal conversation, you don't overtly listen in or eavesdrop. It is an unspoken rule to remain as unobtrusive as possible -- more so than in many other less populated American cities.

He's violated public etiquette that isn't necessarily unique to New York residents, but perhaps we feel more strongly about.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


There is a difference between doing something in public in front of a few random people you'll never meet again vs having a permanent record put up on a world stage where everyone you know and ever will know will see it.

If this had been a video or a photo, then I think I'd agree with you. But "guy" and "girl" on a rooftop somewhere in Brooklyn? There's probably dozens of girls named Rachel who had a fight with their boyfriend on a roof last week. I'd doubt the actual couple in question is even aware they were the subject of this Twitter blip, and even if they were I'd doubt even more that their their friends are. I mean, it's possible, but I don't think it's likely. Most of all, I'd doubt that anyone in the world at large is going to remember anything about this in a week. A hundred hash tags have hatched and trended, strangers in the fog. This is not a google able incident. No one's going to be looking for their resumes or their Facebook profiles and come across this incident, which is more than one can say for their middle school newsletter and/or stuff like the Old Me/Now Me project. I'm not buying the this will haunt them forevermore line.
posted by Diablevert at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's so smug to be like, "If you don't want people to tweet everything you say on the internet, say it in private," but who lives like that?

******************************************************

ATTENTION, NEW LIFE LESSON FOR EVERYONE

******************************************************

If you want your discussion to be private,
do not not have it on a roof with a stranger who is clearly texting.


******************************************************

END LIFE LESSON

******************************************************

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "This isn't sad. What's sad is that Carlos Mencia will do this very same thing six months from now."

This is sort of eponysterical actually.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2013


Brandon Blatcher: "If you want your discussion to be private,
do not not have it on a roof with a strangers who is clearly texting.
"

That's just it. They weren't having it on a roof with a stranger. They were having it on a roof near a stranger. In NYC, an expectation that you will be left alone by said stranger during what is obviously a personal conversation that doesn't involve them is not unrealistic.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2013 [19 favorites]



Lots of people? There are plenty of conversations I would have in private because I'm not comfortable having them in public with people within earshot


We talked about this with the guy who took photos of people through their open apartment windows - "people within earshot" is not the same as "people on all of Internet." I mean, it's just not. And yeah, culturally in New York we do things within earshot that people other places might not.

I live near the projects and a lot of people hang out in the street - like that's what they do instead of going to a bar or a house party or whatever. I don't know that much about the culture of it but it seems like they act just like people do at a bar, it's just outside a grocery store or the Chinese Food place. I sometimes hear loud kind of ridiculous arguments late at night, but like where else are they going to go? The street is a different thing in New York.
posted by sweetkid at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Boy I sure am glad no one was hanging around those ShopRite dumpsters one Saturday afternoon in 2005.
posted by griphus at 11:59 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: " We talked about this with the guy who took photos of people through their open apartment windows - "people within earshot" is not the same as "people on all of Internet." I mean, it's just not. And yeah, culturally in New York we do things within earshot that people other places might not. "

Exactly. People go out of their way not to involve themselves in other people's affairs in those circumstances. It's not their business.
posted by zarq at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Alternatively, it might also be unpleasant to be interrupted by a loud breakup convo scene while relaxing up on a rooftop and looking at the skyline but maybe that's just my non-NYC perspective talking.

We talked about this with the guy who took photos of people through their open apartment windows

That strikes me as totally different, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your apartment and you would have to go out of your way to get photos of people in their homes. This guy is just standing there while these others argue, and they even acknowledge themselves that maybe it's not the best place to have this conversation because he's standing right there.
posted by Hoopo at 12:01 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't say it was smug not to conduct a breakup in public.

I said it was smug -- and I maintain that it is -- to expect people to live as if any conversation you would not want people to intentionally eavesdrop on and then tweet, using all the names and specifics that are used in the conversation, must be held where nobody could possibly eavesdrop on it, because there's nothing wrong with transcribing and tweeting whatever you can glean from sticking your ear up to somebody else's life without their realizing you're paying attention. You want to live in a world where it's not a breach of etiquette to, for instance, tape somebody's breakup on your camera phone and put it on YouTube because you were in the next booth? Because I don't, and that requires some expectation that just because you can see something, that doesn't mean it's good manners or decent behavior to record it, save it, and distribute it. There's a huge difference between "realistically, to keep yourself safe from this behavior, you may have to take extreme measures, because people are awful vipers sometimes" and "this behavior is, in fact, fine."

I do not believe that most people live like that, never having a discussion in a restaurant, or in a bar, or over coffee, or walking down the street, that they're simply hoping other people have the common decency not to intentionally copy down and send to their Twitter followers because it's so hilarious to publicize other people's business when they don't want you to, even if it's boring in every way other than the fact that they probably don't want you to.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:03 PM on November 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


He's violated public etiquette that isn't necessarily unique to New York residents, but perhaps we feel more strongly about.

See, I don't entirely agree about that --- because they did it to him first. You're supposed to avoid eye contact on the subway, for sure. But by the same token, you understand that if you walk into a subway car having a loud argument with somebody, everybody in the car is listening to what you're saying. Dude was just sitting peacefully on a rooftop, couple decides they want to fight in front of him right there and then, they obviously don't care if he's listening. Did they imagine he was tweeting to thousands of people? No, probably not. But it's not like they weren't aware they had an audience.
posted by Diablevert at 12:05 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's just it. They weren't having it on a roof with a stranger. They were having it on a roof near a stranger. In NYC, an expectation that you will be left alone by said stranger during what is obviously a personal conversation that doesn't involve them is not unrealistic.

LIFE LESSON AMENDMENT: If you want your discussION to be private, do not have it on roof when a stranger on nearby roof is clearly texting. In fact, just live out the stranger altogether.

Yes, yes there are expectations and codes, but not everyone lives by them, even if you think they should. Be thankful they didn't record video or take photos.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But by the same token, you understand that if you walk into a subway car having a loud argument with somebody, everybody in the car is listening to what you're saying."

I think that's a totally valid argument. But it doesn't negate the other argument. It's not zero-sum.

In a crowded environment, people have a responsibility to avoid inflicting their unpleasantness on other people. Similarly, though, the corresponding responsibility is to try to avoid, so to speak, noticing their unpleasantness.

These arguments always seem to reduce to a group of people who assert that it's wrong to violate some other person's boundary, and another group of people who assert that a boundary doesn't exist if it's not defended. The latter position has always surprised and troubled me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You want to live in a world where it's not a breach of etiquette to, for instance, tape somebody's breakup on your camera phone and put it on YouTube because you were in the next booth?

That's an absurd comparison. These people are not even identifiable.
posted by Hoopo at 12:14 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"there are expectations and codes, but not everyone lives by them"

Yep, everyone should just adjust their expectations to accomodate the worst possible behavior of others. The world'd be a better place for it.
posted by klarck at 12:14 PM on November 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " LIFE LESSON AMENDMENT: ...
Yes, yes there are expectations and codes, but not everyone lives by them, even if you think they should.
"

I do hope you're noticing your unintended irony.

But by all means continue to declare for us a life lesson that should presumably apply in all given situations while simultaneously also telling us that "there are expectations and codes, but not everyone lives by them, even if you think they should."
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's because your statement indicated shock at facing the result of thousands of years of convention.

LOOK, I'M NOT A GUY THAT'S INTO LABELS, HERA. YOU KNEW THAT GETTING IN
posted by invitapriore at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Zeus never got the hang of that Telex machine.
posted by griphus at 12:20 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


came for the story about which I have no opinion, stayed for the newyorksplaining that in New York, people do things near each other
posted by threeants at 12:21 PM on November 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


Something keeps jumping out at me, and it is variations of "If the couple didn't want everyone to know all about their breakup, they shouldn't have had it in a public(ish) place." Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Obviously to an extent that's true. If you don't want someone to overhear your conversation, do your best to have it in a place where no one can. For sure that's one way to make sure the banal details of your breakup aren't splattered all over the twitterverse. The other way is for no one to live tweet a random couple's breakup. In fact, that is the only 100% foolproof way to make sure that no one's break up is live tweeted. It sounds an awful lot like victim blaming; and victim blaming by it's very nature seeks to take responsibility for shitty actions away from those who perform them - in this case, the asshole comedian who decided to use someone else's bad day for his material.

Say what you want about implied privacy, living in the city, not making eye contact, not having loud or private conversations where people can overhear them, yada yada yada; the fact of the matter is, one guy overheard what was obviously intended to be a private conversation and broadcast it to the world. Yes, the couple could have avoided that by choosing to have their conversation elsewhere; but when they didn't, Ayres had a choice to make, too. In my opinion, he made a crappy one, and it more than trumps this couple's initial bad decision.

Having said that, I won't be breaking up on a rooftop in Brooklyn; or anywhere else, for that matter. It would probably contain a lot more f-bombs, and it wouldn't be funny, either.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


I've been live-tweeting this whole MEFI discussion.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:25 PM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've been live-tweeting this whole MEFI discussion.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:25 PM on November 20


SO META.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:26 PM on November 20, 2013


I've been telegraphing it to my friend who live in 1909!
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that's a totally valid argument. But it doesn't negate the other argument. It's not zero-sum.

In a crowded environment, people have a responsibility to avoid inflicting their unpleasantness on other people. Similarly, though, the corresponding responsibility is to try to avoid, so to speak, noticing their unpleasantness.


Word, and on the whole, I agree. My personal feeling is that the characters in this story are sufficiently anonymous that your man's tweeting about it, while perhaps tactless, was not particularly harmful. That to me is the crux of the issue.
posted by Diablevert at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2013


"When I see you in real life....this aint Twitter".
posted by cashman at 12:34 PM on November 20, 2013


For sure that's one way to make sure the banal details of your breakup aren't splattered all over the twitterverse. The other way is for no one to live tweet a random couple's breakup. In fact, that is the only 100% foolproof way to make sure that no one's break up is live tweeted.

The latter isn't a reasonable expectation based on human behavior.

People are taught to drive defensively because it doesn't matter how well you're driving, what matters is how bad other people are driving. The same principle applies for doing things in public these days.

But by all means continue to declare for us a life lesson that should presumably apply in all given situations while simultaneously also telling us that "there are expectations and codes, but not everyone lives by them, even if you think they should."

Not exactly sure what you mean here, buddy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's an absurd comparison. These people are not even identifiable.

So if they were identifiable, it would be wrong? What if they were identifiable to their friends and family because of personal details that were included? If the rule is that whatever is "out there" is out there, I'm not sure it makes any difference whether you're identified or not, whether you're on video or transcribed. I certainly don't think it would make any difference to this guy, who tweeted the woman's name eagerly as soon as it was given.

I mean, I'm not trying to convince you; you're obviously comfortable with this, and I'm not. I think it's a horrible, mean-spirited way to treat other people, but it's absolutely true that lots of people do awful things, and if you don't want awful things to happen to you, sometimes you have to live unreasonably to prevent them. I wish it weren't so, is all.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:40 PM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


So if they were identifiable, it would be wrong?

If they were identifiable, some sort of harm could have been caused by the tweets, so in a manner of speaking, yes. In this case there is zero harm caused.

If the rule is that whatever is "out there" is out there, I'm not sure it makes any difference whether you're identified or not

No one is talking about rules, let alone in such needlessly black-and-white terms.

This situation does not strike me as particularly new or different and I'm confused why this particular thing has people up in arms about privacy. No anonymous comments or conversation has ever been relayed in the media before? No one has never complained about the actions of some random person in print? Would all of those be dangerous invasions of privacy that create a virtual panopticon too?
posted by Hoopo at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2013


I hate that attitude, I really do. "Well, it's going to happen, so you better deal with it." I'm not saying you're wrong, and I'm not going to stick my head in the sand and ignore reality, but I'm pretty sure it's okay to say that that fucking sucks, all the more so because of how often that reasoning is applied. As if it is incumbent upon me, always, to minimize the potential assholery of the people around me. It is exhausting.

And reality, I know. I just don't like it.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


I think the inevitability argument is question begging, since it relies on this notion that assholes do the one thing and rational agents do the other, and assholes are always incorrigible, and somehow no matter the issue the groups are divided the same way, so it's always the rational agents that must be admonished for their naivety.
posted by invitapriore at 12:50 PM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " Not exactly sure what you mean here, buddy."

That much is obvious.
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


My personal feeling is that the characters in this story are sufficiently anonymous that your man's tweeting about it, while perhaps tactless, was not particularly harmful.

You are suffering from a similar failure of empathy as the comedian. There is a 100% chance these people have heard about this and know who it refers to (unless he falsified the details, which he swears he didn't.) All of their friends know who this refers to. They are both humiliated and ashamed right now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:54 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " Not exactly sure what you mean here, buddy."

It means announcing a "Life Lesson for Everyone" is nonsensical when you're also telling people that 'not everyone lives by expectations and codes even if you think they should.'
posted by zarq at 12:56 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of their friends know who this refers to

How? Assuming their friends even read it, it's so stereotypical as to stretch credibility as a real conversation that happened
posted by Hoopo at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


At night the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me ...
posted by octobersurprise at 1:01 PM on November 20, 2013


How?

I mean you don't really need to be Philip Marlowe to figure out that your friend's apparently shitty relationship went down with oddly similar timing to this story breaking and also that either your friend or his girlfriend is named "Rachel."

Plus I think most people can consider their circles of friends and pick out who would have a loud, angry breakup on a rooftop.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was pretty sure this was going to end with the guy's phone blowing up with people going DUDE SOME SHITHEAD IS LIVETWEETING YOUR BREAK UP GET OFF THE ROOF.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:04 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


OR AT LEAST MENTION MY BAND
posted by griphus at 1:05 PM on November 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


DUDE SOME IDIOT THINKS THAT ONE ACT PLAY YOURE REHEARSING WITH RACH IS REAL, U MAY WANT TO LET HIM KNOW YOURE GAY
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:06 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


So if they were identifiable, it would be wrong? What if they were identifiable to their friends and family because of personal details that were included? If the rule is that whatever is "out there" is out there, I'm not sure it makes any difference whether you're identified or not, whether you're on video or transcribed.

The series of elisions you make in these three sentences make no sense to me at all. The difference between telling an anecdote about "the guy ahead of me in line at the bank," "my youth group leader Dave," and "Dave Glockenspiel, 43, an Astoria resident" are vast. I don't think anybody is harmed by telling a funny/shocking/mean spirited story about an anonymous stranger. I don't think that's any different from a Metropolitan Diary column or an Overheard post --- just a random snatch of city life. It's much more tactless to tell such a story about a possibly identifiable person, a it's real breech of etiquette to do so if they're clearly identified.

I'd be fascinated to read a hundred year old prostitute's diary, I'd be mildly embarrassed to read a hundred year old prositute's diary out loud in front of their great grandkid and I'd be horrified to do so in front of their child or spouse. Time and distance and closeness of relationship have a huge impact on what counts as "private". Tweeting about the dude in front of you at the bank isn't doxxing.
posted by Diablevert at 1:07 PM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's on a continuum with doxxing. And it makes one an asshole, sorry. Maybe a funny asshole? Sometimes. Not in this case though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:10 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's so stereotypical as to stretch credibility as a real conversation that happened

That's why I thought it was fake or massively embellished. So stereotypical.
posted by sweetkid at 1:11 PM on November 20, 2013


If he faked it then he just isn't funny or creative then. Come on dude are you a panopticon, or a panoptican't? http: / / Twitter Dot COm Slash BBallDad420
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:17 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


but I'm pretty sure it's okay to say that that fucking sucks, all the more so because of how often that reasoning is applied.

I agree that it does fucking suck, the way the life bar is only as high as the nearest asshole. It's an annoying part of living in the world, but it's there, so whattayagonnado? Remember the rule of assholes when you can and just get through it when you don't. 'cause ASSHOLES.

It means announcing a "Life Lesson for Everyone" is nonsensical when you're also telling people that 'not everyone lives by expectations and codes even if you think they should.'

That is not what I wrote and what you've previously quoted, so I have no idea where the above quote, which changes the meaning of what was written, came from.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on November 20, 2013


You are suffering from a similar failure of empathy as the comedian. There is a 100% chance these people have heard about this and know who it refers to (unless he falsified the details, which he swears he didn't.) All of their friends know who this refers to. They are both humiliated and ashamed right now.

According to the Social Security Administration's name popularity database, there were ~1,000 Rachels a year born in New York State alone between 1983 and 1993. Don't know how many were upstate vs the city, plus you've got to account for people moving to go to college or work in the city...probably, literally, a couple thousand people in Brooklyn this story could be about? And order for them or those that know them to even have heard about it they'd have to be obsessively following Twitter and/or into reading bullshit Times-y think pieces about the state of Our Young Folks? Sure, it's possible, I guess. I think you over-estimate the importance of Twitter if you think it's 100% guaranteed they've heard about this, or that anyone else they know was so familiar with the mundane details of their fights that they knew it was about them. Plus they could always, you know, lie.
posted by Diablevert at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


IF these people are real and these are the things they said, I'm sure they know it's about them. And if they talked to anyone after the breakup, like basically everyone does, then some of the details here were probably related to those people "He told me to stop shivering!" "She asked to look at my phone"

I mean, if they're real, they know and other people know.
posted by sweetkid at 1:31 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking this over for the last couple hours and I've decided I'm really glad Rachel DTMFA.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:33 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would bet any amount of money that they have heard about this. Memail me for terms.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:35 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


And order for them or those that know them to even have heard about it they'd have to be obsessively following Twitter and/or into reading bullshit Times-y think pieces about the state of Our Young Folks? Sure, it's possible, I guess. I think you over-estimate the importance of Twitter if you think it's 100% guaranteed they've heard about this, or that anyone else they know was so familiar with the mundane details of their fights that they knew it was about them.

100 percent is overstating it, but given that it's on Gawker and Buzzfeed and MetaFilter and gods only know where else, it's significantly closer to 100 percent than 0. I'd guess that 90-plus percent of twentysomething Rachels in Brooklyn have had someone tell them about this already.

Twentysomething Rachels in Brooklyn will be my next album.
posted by Etrigan at 1:36 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


It has been all over my Facebook and I actually know some people who've been a small part of the bloggery about it weirdly (not the comedy guy or the people involved IF they exist). Brooklyn is a small world.
posted by sweetkid at 1:39 PM on November 20, 2013


Ugh that dude sounds like so many commitment-phobic guys that I hope the woman will just laugh about him someday soon.
posted by discopolo at 1:42 PM on November 20, 2013


IF these people are real and these are the things they said, I'm sure they know it's about them. And if they talked to anyone after the breakup, like basically everyone does, then some of the details here were probably related to those people "He told me to stop shivering!" "She asked to look at my phone"

But why be sure that they've even heard about it? Pew just released a survey earlier this month -- only 16 % of adults use Twitter, and half of them only follow their friends and family. I'd grant you that a 20-something New Yorker is much more likely to be part of that 16 percent, but something that becomes a trending topic for half an hour for 6,000 followers of some comedian isn't quite the 2013 equivalent of the Times breaking out the 72pt headline font. I mean, can you name any of the other 19 trending topics that were on at the same time as this little stunt? Or the 29 articles that Buzzfeed and HuffPo undoubtedly churned out about them? We don't even know for a fact that these people broke up in the first place. Talking about this fart in the wind story on the ten year old website metafilter is probably the closest it's come to permance.
posted by Diablevert at 1:43 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean you don't really need to be Philip Marlowe to figure out that your friend's apparently shitty relationship went down with oddly similar timing to this story breaking and also that either your friend or his girlfriend is named "Rachel."

We don't even know if that's really her name and yes I imagine it's possible more than one person in a borough of 2.5 million people is named Rachel or something that sounds like Rachel and had an argument with a boyfriend about commitments and/or the lack thereof. Also are we sure this is even a breakup and not just some random fight that people have all the time? I, ahem, may have taken a really long time to pop the proverbial question to my wife and this may have led to similarly-themed conversations at various points. I mean the jerky guy here totally doesn't come off like he thinks it's over.

if they talked to anyone after the breakup, like basically everyone does, then some of the details here were probably related to those people "He told me to stop shivering!" "She asked to look at my phone"

I mean, if they're real, they know and other people know.


Well yeah because they told them all this stuff anyway so to those people none of this would come as a surprise, would it?
posted by Hoopo at 1:46 PM on November 20, 2013


My last comment was simplifying/paraphrasing, Brandon, since you said you didn't understand me when I quoted you earlier. But no, I'm not misrepresenting you.
posted by zarq at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It wasn't just on Twitter that one time, it's been on Facebook, Gawker, it's still on Twitter as #roofbreakup, as this post shows there are video reenactments - I have no idea why this blew up so much, because I don't think it's funny, but unless they really are anti-social-media 20 somethings they know about it.

Also, census data about Rachels doesn't really affect anything because thousands of Rachels did not break up that night using those words on a Brooklyn rooftop.
posted by sweetkid at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]



Well yeah because they told them all this stuff anyway so to those people none of this would come as a surprise, would it?


There's a difference between telling things to your friends on the phone or chat or text after a fight, and another to have those things all over Gawker and acted out by some people on an LA rooftop and having a hashtag named after your rooftop fight.

Acting like all of that is all the same just makes no sense to me. I've said plenty of stupid things in my life and told friends, "and then I said this stupid thing because I was mad" and it didn't turn into a hashtag/Gawker media adclick opportunity.
posted by sweetkid at 1:50 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


...6,000 followers of some comedian isn't quite the 2013 equivalent of the Times breaking out the 72pt headline font.

No, but I don't know a single person my age who doesn't read some combination of Gakwer , Gothamist (which is sure to run this shortly), Twitter, Facebook and the same handful of local neighborhood blogs.

This sort of local stuff is passed around on Facebook like wildfire because nearly everyone has had idiot neighbors like this who YELL ABOUT PERSONAL PROBLEMS and the schadenfreude of them doing it on the fucking roof is too good to pass up for many people.

At least one of them is also a young transplant, and that begins to narrow it down even further. That community is actually not very big and definitely not at all spread out.
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The anti shivering guy deserves to hear how dumb he sounds. I get the sense he has this narrative of himself where he doesn't sound like a douchebag. He probably thinks he's so deep.

I wonder how old they are. I'm guessing the girl is in her mid twenties but the guy sounds like he could be anywhere from 26-40;-)
posted by discopolo at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will also go in with Potomac Avenue on an actual money bet that Rachel and her (ex-)beau know about this or will before the end of the month.
posted by Etrigan at 1:53 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, census data about Rachels doesn't really affect anything because thousands of Rachels did not break up that night using those words on a Brooklyn rooftop.

But dude. The embarrassing thing here is supposed to be that people might learn the details of their breakup. You're suggesting that people to whom they have already told these details in real life might therefore be able to recognise them. That seems like kind of a nullset. There's probably a dozen 20-something Rachels who broke up with their boyfriend this week, and of that dozen I bet twelve of them are rolling their eyes every time someone mentions this story. One of them may or may not be the person this was actually about.
posted by Diablevert at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2013


And I'll give odds. Say 4-1?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2013


A friend of mine was the subject of a Modern Love. It gave no details other than the city they lived in. His dad called him within an hour of the paper being delivered. The world is small.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:59 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


The embarrassing thing here is supposed to be that people might learn the details of their breakup.

What? No. The embarrassing thing is that they were ridiculous enough people to shout the shitty details of their personal life from both the proverbial and literal rooftop.
posted by griphus at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


They are being mocked by millions as they go through one of the most painful things you can do in life. Wicked Awesome Epic Bacon Takedown bro!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:01 PM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


they were ridiculous enough people to shout the shitty details of their personal life from both the proverbial and literal rooftop.

This would only make sense if they had live tweeted their own breakup. They didn't.
posted by sweetkid at 2:04 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems that this is a litmus test for those who have experienced dense city living and those who have not. In the largest cities, the most private space is often public. People have roommates, apartments aren't soundproof... or maybe you want to take yourselves out of the context of your apartment to have a heavy discussion. Then you have your intimate moment and hope that people pay you the basic human courtesy of leaving you alone.

So there you are crying on the park bench while couples stroll and children play nearby. During one such conversation in a crowded public park, we saw a young couple begin to disrobe as they sank down behind a little embankment. After that our conversation was punctuated by sightings of naked limbs quickly rising from behind the embankment and slowly sinking back down out of view once more.

All of life's pageantry within a few hundred yards. People having intimate moments witnessing other people having very different, equally intimate moments. Most people trying their best to let others live out their lives in peace. That is city living.

The rooftop breakup couple may have had more privacy if they had chosen a more public, more crowded place. In the future, everyone will break up while walking along subway platforms during rush hour.
posted by ngc4486 at 2:05 PM on November 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ugh, whatever. At this point we're just arguing hypotheticals on a continuum between, "they absolutely know, are devestated, and are halfway to becoming shut ins" to "eh, they probably never heard about the whole thing and if they did would be mildly embarrassed". I'm certainly not planning to track them down to find out and have spent way too much time in this these as it is, so I shall bow out.
posted by Diablevert at 2:05 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


People are taught to drive defensively because it doesn't matter how well you're driving, what matters is how bad other people are driving. The same principle applies for doing things in public these days.

So the guy who live-tweeted is himself 100% absolved of blame because the couple should have known better?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This would only make sense if they had live tweeted their own breakup. They didn't.

No, and the guy that tweeted it is a dick. But they took their personal fight to a public and possibly communal space at 5 PM on a Saturday.

They don't deserve to have any of this happen to them, not even a little. And it's really shitty for it to have happened to them and I hope everyone forgets all of this just as quickly as all the other stupid things that happen around here. But they also acted in a way that is well out of bounds with expecting your private conflict to remain private.
posted by griphus at 2:09 PM on November 20, 2013


Breaking up on a rooftop in New York is exactly the sort of thing I'd expect a New Yorker to do. Ugh. So irritating.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's because a bunch of friends of mine are going through breakups right now but I feel really protective of these folks. They didn't ask for this. They don't deserve to be made fun of. And moreover, they weren't even, like, snarkysnarked out. Some twerp boringly reported their sorrow as if the very act of reporting was somehow amusing. If someone actually wants to come forward and explain why this was funny I would be interested to hear it, but all we've heard so far is "this doesn't matter and nobody cares." While at worst, and I can imagine some of the recently-dumped people I know doing this, this would be an unendurable shame to the point of self-harm. So it's at best merely unpleasant and at worst cruel and life-destroying.

*******Life Lesson For You**********

If you are about to talk shit about someone doing something personal in public: Don't. Leave them alone. They are sad enough. Yes homeless people too. Tweet about basketball instead.


**********END LIFE LESSON**********
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:13 PM on November 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


Acting like all of that is all the same just makes no sense to me

Like what's all the same? The point is 99.99999999% of the people who saw this online have no idea, and will never have any idea, who these people are. The people who know these people well enough to piece this all together from the exchange would already be in on the details of what was said in this conversation in order to make the connection.

I mean, I guess the guy might be embarrassed because he comes off like a total douche here.

A friend of mine was the subject of a Modern Love


I was just about to say something about this--how is this series of tweets different than your typical Dear Abby or Savage Love or any of the thousands of "Overheard" venues that share snippets of conversations? Theoretically anyone with enough information on the lives of those involved might be able to identify someone they know based on that.

During one such conversation in a crowded public park, we saw a young couple begin to disrobe as they sank down behind a little embankment. After that our conversation was punctuated by sightings of naked limbs quickly rising from behind the embankment and slowly sinking back down out of view once more.

All of life's pageantry within a few hundred yards. People having intimate moments witnessing other people having very different, equally intimate moments. Most people trying their best to let others live out their lives in peace. That is city living


I've lived in a more densely populated city than New York and ew, no, it is not OK to fuck in a crowded park with children playing nearby.

life-destroying.


what?
posted by Hoopo at 2:15 PM on November 20, 2013


So the guy who live-tweeted is himself 100% absolved of blame because the couple should have known better?

No, he's 100% absolved of blame for violating their privacy, because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Like, say, a rooftop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:18 PM on November 20, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich: "And I find it depressing that apparently many other people take it for granted that this couple is typical."

No one said they were typical - but neither were they the black swans/rarae aves that you seem to imply they are in your neck of the woods. (But I'm betting a lot more of your friends have played one of these two roles in a previous breakup, regardless of your confidence in them.)
posted by IAmBroom at 2:18 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something similar happened in London some months ago, when a local comedian sitting in a café in Islington overheard a conversation with a smug, Nathan Barley-esque twat hitting on an ex-girlfriend (who, it turned out, dumped him some years earlier after he cheated on her), with her gracefully knocking his overtures back; the comedian live-tweeted the scene as well, posting it here, and it ended up being turned into a sketch at a comedy night a few weeks later.
posted by acb at 2:19 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


it wasn't Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton

Flawed premise: Hills would have totally dropped Kanye before he decided to break up with her.
posted by rmless at 2:21 PM on November 20, 2013


I guess this means I'm a bad person if this is real, but I highly doubt it... anyway...

"But what is an apartment, really? You know?" is about the damn funniest thing I've read in a long time. I mean, have you thought about it - what IS an apartment?! REALLY.
posted by sonika at 2:21 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


what?

People in breakups hurt themselves over breakups. If they knew they were being laughed at by cool dudes who blame them for being too emotional to go indoors, and they flip out and jump off the roof, is that their fault too? Not trying to be melodramatic, but I don't find breakups (other than my own) that super funny, no matter what the people doing it say during it. I guess I just don't get what people are getting out of this story. Maybe you could explain what you like about the live-tweeting, or why you think these people deserve to have their intimate moments broadcast...because they thought they were in private? Some other reason?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:27 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish I was the president of twitter I would put so many "Humorists" in GITMO.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:28 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


" The embarrassing thing here is supposed to be that people might learn the details of their breakup."

That would be very embarrassing, yes. But the fact that few people who don't already know them would know that this was them doesn't mean that there wasn't a violation and that they don't have any reason to feel aggrieved.

These sorts of debates on MeFi really surprise and exhaust me because people get all black-and-white and zero-sum.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:29 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


everyone involved with this is terrible including everyone in this thread except for me who is awesome
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on November 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


No, he's 100% absolved of blame for violating their privacy, because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Like, say, a rooftop.

Wow, it must take your friends a long time to trust you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:33 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]



Acting like all of that is all the same just makes no sense to me

Like what's all the same?


Doing something in public "within earshot" is the same as doing it on the internet.
posted by sweetkid at 2:34 PM on November 20, 2013


"...including everyone in this thread except for me who is awesome"

Well, that goes without saying.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:34 PM on November 20, 2013


Wow, it must take your friends a long time to trust you.

Really? Do yourself a huge favor and don't say stuff like this publicly, because your comment makes you come off as a bit of a jerk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2013


Maybe you could explain what you like about the live-tweeting

You seem to have me confused with someone else. I don't like or dislike it, and I don't really get it if it's supposed to be yuk-yuk funny. I have been responding to the "OMG PANOPTICON" stuff, and in one specific case the suggestion that these anonymous peoples' lives are possibly destroyed, all of which seems a little over-the-top to me.
posted by Hoopo at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


yoink: "The only thing that's "new" in this is its instantaneity. The New Yorker has been doing "overheard in..." columns for decades and you could find similar kinds of things in Punch in the nineteenth century. It's interesting, though, how the instantaneous nature of the reporting does, in fact, increase the sense of a violation of privacy."

Or the weekly cartoon In Pgh's alt paper, titled something like "Actually overheard", which depicts some random moment of weirdness seen on Pittsburgh streets. I don't know, of course, how accurate the character renditions are, but I presume they're not conjured whole-cloth.

Where on the spectrum of "Hip comedy" to "Outrageous invasion of privacy!!!!" does that lay?
posted by IAmBroom at 2:40 PM on November 20, 2013


EmpressCallipygos:
No, he's 100% absolved of blame for violating their privacy, because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Like, say, a rooftop.

Wow, it must take your friends a long time to trust you.


Saying things to friends, and saying things in front of complete strangers, are worlds apart, for anyone over the age of 4.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:44 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let's also remember it's not "the entirety of Brooklyn Rachels" but rather "Twenty-something Williamsburg Rachel,who lives with roommates, is dating a transplant, and left to take a walk on the roof with said transplant at around 5pm on that specific date." As for the idea that it's not humiliating, I suggest you ask every early twenties girl you know how comfortable they are having everyone they know be aware that they begged their boyfriend to live with them, or just say they loved them, to no avail.
posted by corb at 2:45 PM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


because they thought they were in private

I neither found the live-tweeting funny or unfunny, but this is complete supposition on the part of these two people. For all we know, this couple could argue often, loudly, publicly and they subconsciously enjoy having an audience for their scraps. They could have made up afterwards, once they vented their frustrations on each other. Some couples are like that. We can't know, either way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:54 PM on November 20, 2013


Twenty-something Williamsburg Rachel

I think I missed when this information got added into the mix, it's not in any of the tweets
posted by Hoopo at 2:55 PM on November 20, 2013


> I actually know some people who've been a small part of the bloggery about it weirdly (not the comedy guy or the people involved IF they exist)

Who does that leave?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:57 PM on November 20, 2013


I don't want to say, I just noticed a familiar name or two in all the buzzfeed/videoreenactment/gawkermedia stuff.
posted by sweetkid at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2013


Regarding the existence of the panopticon (Sol-3 Earth Edition, since we all know the proper Panopticon is housed in a continually shattering glass dome under attack by Daleks forever time locked somewhere in the constellation of Kasterborous) after feeling it necessary to yell "Have some fucking class!" at a group of people filming a lone dying man being attended to by paramedics after he fell/jumped(?) from a building recently, no there is nothing at all that people will see as inappropriate to put out there.
posted by mediocre at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


it wasn't Kanye West breaking up with Hillary Clinton

Flawed premise: Hills would have totally dropped Kanye before he decided to break up with her.


I'm sorry; you're saying that Hillary Clinton has a good sense of when to get out of a relationship?
posted by Etrigan at 3:22 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


there is nothing at all that people will see as inappropriate to put out there

Certain posts on Metafilter like the one about the iconic 9/11 Falling Man are good examples of this, where technology facilitates recording, editing and rebroadcasting public events to exploit human tragedy and sorrow, in order to satisfy some weird and murky and complicated instinct to ogle from a safe distance.

It didn't and doesn't violate the suicide's privacy to capture his death, and the video footage doesn't point to us living in a dystopian Panopticon. Despite the handwringing, there are lots of reasons to note that we live under constant State surveillance for nefarious reasons, but this wasn't necessarily one of them.

Nonetheless, there are perhaps useful and insightful lessons to learn from these sorts of events, about voyeurism and exploitation being darker parts of human nature.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on November 20, 2013


As for the idea that it's not humiliating, I suggest you ask every early twenties girl you know how comfortable they are having everyone they know be aware that they begged their boyfriend to live with them, or just say they loved them, to no avail.

It's rapidly becoming such a common thing---the reluctant boyfriend who is starting relationships in the middle of existing relationships---that Rachel shouldn't be the one who is embarrassed. There is more than one woman who has gone through this and they'd happily come out of the woodwork to support her. The boyfriend yelling at her for shivering is the one who should be ashamed of himself, but probably won't be because his bros will support him by playing XBox with him or whatever.
posted by discopolo at 3:43 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I just don't see a woman as bright as Hil dating a guy who demands people consider him a genius. Though I guess the ranting about how special he finds himself might end up being somewhere between somewhat tolerable to pretty entertaining after awhile.
posted by discopolo at 3:46 PM on November 20, 2013


For me it really just comes down to that this really awful moment for these two people? They're going to have to relive it way more than they would like by the virtue of it being public and written about. Whether or not I know who those two people are - they know that's their breakup. Even if they don't tell anyone else? They still have it sitting in front of them recorded and set down. Every time they wish they would have said something different? They'll know exactly the awful thing they said instead. And that's crappy for them. It's making their heartbreak public and whether it should be or shouldn't be, that's likely to be deeply embarrassing for them.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:50 PM on November 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Taking delight in relaying the story of 2 people having a very difficult conversation squicks me right out.
posted by theora55 at 3:56 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


from now on I'm conducting all my breakups via carrier pigeon.
posted by any major dude at 4:12 PM on November 20, 2013


Saying things to friends, and saying things in front of complete strangers, are worlds apart, for anyone over the age of 4.

And gossiping is something that adults usually understand isn't cool.

But some people in here seem to think that gossiping is totally cool if you're talking about things people did in public. And if I meet someone who lacks the maturity to refrain from blabbing about embarrassing things that happen to people just because they happened in public, why would I trust them with more private things?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I've had conversations like this while crying on a park bench. It was that or in my office. Perhaps I've been in a decent sized city long enough to do the public space should actually be private. I know for sure I would be devastated if what felt like everyone in the world were making fun of the breakup that was causing me so much pain. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind it being turned into part of a novel.

Not sure what this says about me....
posted by chatongriffes at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting, it never occurred to me that the conversation itself was supposed to be the "amusing" or "entertaining" part of this, rather, that we were meant to feel some vicarious sense of payback in taking an uncomfortable private conversation that the participants have already decided, inappropriately, to hold in public (sharing at least some of their discomfort with a group of strangers who didn't volunteer), and making it even more public than the participants ever expected.

I know, people who live in small apartments and dense cities their whole lives may have different ideas of how privacy is maintained. Maybe it's just because I come from a culture of "Close the door. Keep your voice down. I'm not having this conversation with you unless we can conduct it like adults," but figuratively airing your soiled laundry in a public place will never seem much more polite to me than, well, literally airing your soiled laundry. Nobody asked to smell that. The neighbors have their own troubles and sources of shame and embarrassment, they didn't offer to share yours.

By at least some people's standards, what that couple was doing was incredibly blasted rude. I may be misreading, but I think the intent of the "comic" was to give them their comeuppance by amplifying their invasive public drama until it reached people who won't be made uncomfortable, but only point and laugh. It was cruel and disproportionate, and not something I would consider doing myself, but I don't see how it's different in kind from any other example of public shaming for public misconduct.
posted by CHoldredge at 4:28 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


And gossiping is something that adults usually understand isn't cool.

That's simply not true. Adults gossip all the time and gossip publications/columns/websites/TV shows are immensely popular. People love that shit and engage in it constantly about celebrities, coworkers, friends, etc.
posted by Hoopo at 4:34 PM on November 20, 2013


I don't see it as gossiping. The guy who tweeted it was doing it for some asshole reason, but I think most of us really feel for at least one of the people involved in the situation.
posted by discopolo at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2013


By at least some people's standards, what that couple was doing was incredibly blasted rude.

I give them something of a pass for the emotional fraughtness of it. That is not a conversation where two people that begins,
"Hey, I'd like to discuss whether you really love me; is your schedule free on Tuesday?"
"Terribly sorry, but Tuesday is booked solid. How's Wednesday evening?"
"Delightful. This isn't a conversation I'd care to have in your apartment, so how's a random rooftop in Brooklyn?"
"Capital idea. If anyone else is up there, then fuck them."
posted by Etrigan at 4:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's simply not true. Adults gossip all the time and gossip publications/columns/websites/TV shows are immensely popular. People love that shit and engage in it constantly about celebrities, coworkers, friends, etc.
posted by Hoopo at 7:34 PM on November 20 [+] [!]


I don't see it as gossiping. The guy who tweeted it was doing it for some asshole reason, but I think most of us really feel for at least one of the people involved in the situation.
posted by discopolo at 7:43 PM


....You both understand my larger point that it was a dick thing for the Tweeter guy to do, and that it makes sense to be suspicious of anyone who thinks Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame, right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:52 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find it interesting that "but they were in public" is being used as a defense. Most people are in public most of the time. Expectation of privacy? No, probably not. But an expectation that every asshole with a website or a twitter account isn't going broadcast you all over the world to laugh it doesn't seem like it's that big of an expectation to me.

I think it all comes back to "don't be a dick", "do unto others". Fuck the voyeuristic assholes who do this kind of thing and all of their fans too. I blame Regis Philbin, personally.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:52 PM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


"I blame Regis Philbin, personally."

That's a good rule of thumb for basically every situation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:11 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I don't think anyone that anyone that thinks Tweeter guy was "justified" is suspicious, not trustworthy, less mature than you, or whatever else. I wouldn't have done what this guy did, but then I'm also not a comedian that needs to do any self-promoting or try to entertain people. I would, however, be very annoyed if while relaxing in my building's common area two people start arguing and loudly sharing personal information and explicitly stating they don't give a fuck that I'm there hearing everything, because it's kind of inconsiderate and at least one of them seemed embarrassed about it even at the time.

Anyways, I didn't hear this kind of sympathetic outpouring regarding, say, the woman in the thread earlier this year whose cell phone got tossed across the room at some Broadway show by that theater reviewer for example. She would certainly have been more identifiable than these two. But you know, THOSE people deserve it!
posted by Hoopo at 5:19 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]



I give them something of a pass for the emotional fraughtness of it. That is not a conversation where two people that begins,

Something of a pass, I'd agree. But it only takes a moment of one of them acting like a grown up to look around them, see and consider the people they're inconveniencing and embarrassing, and say "Shit, this isn't the place. Keep your voice down"

It's not far from the reaction I was hoping for from the guy in the grocery line a while back, discussing his prostate exam at cellphone volume in front of kids. Fortunately my look of revolted shock not only earned a belligerent response, but also a change of subject. I doubt the same tactic would have made a dent in the self-centeredness of these two young people.
posted by CHoldredge at 5:23 PM on November 20, 2013


I was just in an eatery and the bubbly-fresh newsreader on the tube said "rain fell and wind blew and sent leaves flying!". I kinda prefer the days when leaves fell without being trumpeted on the news.
posted by telstar at 5:27 PM on November 20, 2013


"She would certainly have been more identifiable than these two. But you know, THOSE people deserve it!"

There were some of us who were very critical of whatshisname. But we focused on him forcefully taking her property and throwing it across the room. That sort of draws the attention.

Incidentally, all of us who were critical of whatshisname were not defending the woman using her phone and were critical of her, too. It's possible for both sides of something to be in the wrong.

I'm probably quite consistent on MeFi for protesting what I think of as transgressive/rude/hurtful behavior that many are excusing on the basis that someone did something wrong to deserve or that they "asked for it" by not defending themselves against it, or whatever. And I'm consistently critical of that side, too, if I think they did something wrong, as well. Like the woman using her phone during the play. She was wrong. They guy taking her phone was wrong.

These people may or may not have been wrong in having their argument where nearby people would be made uncomfortable — that's ambiguous in my opinion, depending upon how many people were on the roof, how close people were, how much there was a reasonable expectation that others would be able to hear them. But I'm totally open to criticizing them for being rude themselves. Nevertheless, I think the "comedian" transgressed, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:31 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't like the phone throwing guy's behavior much either.
posted by sweetkid at 5:48 PM on November 20, 2013


two people act like douchebags, another guy tweets it.

I don't know how this is noteworthy in the least.
posted by jpe at 5:56 PM on November 20, 2013


Something similar happened in London some months ago

There was also the Saga of Tim and Freya in which MeFi thread many MeFites expressed very similar opinions to that they expressed in this thread.
posted by goo at 5:56 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jack Vale's social media experiment on how much information you can find on strangers through social media. ("Thank you for invading our privacy.")
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:42 PM on November 20, 2013


two people act like douchebags, another guy tweets it.

I don't know how this is noteworthy in the least.


What is "douchebaggy" about the couple's behavior?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think the comedian is a douchebag anymore than I think any of the people who send in quotes to Overheard in New York is a douchebag.

I suppose I could have expected the reaction (though the idea that his tweeting their break-up could push them to suicide is, frankly, ridiculous) but I was still a little surprised. I see absolutely nothing wrong with someone tweeting when he's in a public space and other people come in and start being disruptively loud or otherwise making a scene.

After all, think of it as citizen reportage, merely relaying what he heard with a little bias towards Rachel, who definitely came off better in the break-up anyway. I would even suggest imagining him tweeting if they had committed a crime, say public vandalism. Would your opinion change then? Or would the fact that it materially alters your perception of what happened just emphasise how terrible all the analogies and extrapolations have been that have tried to damn this as an unmitigated wrong?
I mean, how do you know they'd be embarrassed to have this be common knowledge? Presumably you would be, but presumably you wouldn't break up with someone in public either, so maybe shame isn't high on either of their emotional lists.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:10 PM on November 20, 2013


....You both understand my larger point that it was a dick thing for the Tweeter guy to do, and that it makes sense to be suspicious of anyone who thinks Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame, right?

Who said Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on November 20, 2013


If I had roommates I don't know where I'd go for Complete Privacy. The roof seems like a normal place.
posted by sweetkid at 8:14 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


On this, my last night in Brooklyn (my former home of years back) before heading back to Tokyo tomorrow, I have this to say: I liked Brooklyn better before there was Twitter, and before Brooklyn was hip. Nobody tweeted about the crack vials that crunched under my feet at night in the street, and nobody tweeted about how very, very affordable it was to live here. And it was better that way. Goodnight.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I can understand being somewhat annoyed by people being rude enough to have a breakup in the presence of strangers, but all I can hear is my dearly departed Mother telling me, "M.Y.O.B."
posted by ob1quixote at 11:04 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Friends didn't take place in Brooklyn.

Not convinced. There's no way people that young could afford apartments like that in Manhattan.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:37 AM on November 21, 2013


I wasn't a huge Friends fan but wasn't it established that they were gaming the rent control system somehow?
posted by Justinian at 2:06 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Haven't they been doxed yet?
Internet, what happened to you?
posted by fullerine at 2:10 AM on November 21, 2013



Who said Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame?

"No, he's 100% absolved of blame for violating their privacy, because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Like, say, a rooftop."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:18 PM on November 20
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:53 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


If this is accurately reported and not just made up, guy is exhibiting selfish, egotistical, arrogant, bullying behaviour. She comes out of it quite well assuming she stays away from him.

Creating a popular hashtag is what self publicists aim for on twitter, so maybe this comedian can convert that into some success elsewhere. It does not surprise me that a comedian looking for fame would take any opportunity to promote his name.
posted by asok at 3:54 AM on November 21, 2013


The Williamsburg piece came up in the reportage afterwards- he's not hiding where he lives, and she lives on "the neighboring rooftop. "
posted by corb at 4:55 AM on November 21, 2013


"No, he's 100% absolved of blame for violating their privacy, because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Like, say, a rooftop."

We know the law. The couple had no right to privacy, tweeting the breakup wasn't illegal, so Tweeter guy could not have possibly been in the wrong. If it was wrong, it'd be illegal, amirite?

That's the sort of sophisticated ethos exemplified by most successful Wall St. MBA's.
posted by klarck at 5:14 AM on November 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but it's surprisingly common for people to equate legality with ethics. I'd say that almost every thread like this one, whether it's privacy or assault or similar things, there's a contingent that argues that the legal status is determinative of right and wrong. They don't often state it very explicitly, like BP unusually did here, but they'll counter arguments critical of a person's actions by asserting that they weren't illegal.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:23 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok ok, what person that you can take seriously said " Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wasn't a huge Friends fan but wasn't it established that they were gaming the rent control system somehow?

Monica inherited the apartment from her aunt (possibly great aunt). Presumably Joey made enough as a soap opera star to afford sharing the much smaller apartment across the hall with Chandler. And a duck.
posted by sonika at 6:07 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The twitter guy was 100% justified and free of blame. Boo hoo, you live in Brooklyn. You have roommates. So fucking make them uncomfortable, and get off the fucking rooftop. The rest of the city hasn't made a tacit arrangement to deal with your drama. I was sympathetic til I got to the "I think someone's listening / nah fuck that" piece.
posted by lordaych at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2013


I mean you just ask a roommate to leave and act like an adult instead of a sitcom douche stereotype.
posted by lordaych at 6:53 AM on November 21, 2013


Ok ok, what person that you can take seriously said " Tweeter Guy was perfectly justified and free of blame?"

Good point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I, too, am glad Rachel dumped him. And she better not have ended up buying him a pizza, either!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


For instance, many years ago I had a long protracted multistage breakup. At one point I had two friends over. Future wire was coming by to pick up a cat, with little notice. And was fucking around before the break up because I was non committal (ooh such a stereotype, pleeeaase) and we had a big old confrontation. We kept it short and painful. Before doing so I asked them to go outside so we could talk. They could've left if they wanted, but they stood around smoking on the balcony and came back when she left. They heard a little bit and commiserated unsalaciously. That's how we do it in the 303
posted by lordaych at 7:26 AM on November 21, 2013


The twitter guy was 100% justified and free of blame. Boo hoo, you live in Brooklyn. You have roommates. So fucking make them uncomfortable, and get off the fucking rooftop. The rest of the city hasn't made a tacit arrangement to deal with your drama.

I think it's more entitled to think you can dictate how people behave in public, and if they don't meet your expectations you should just go ahead and raise your comedy profile by tweeting everything you see and hear, than to have a heated argument in public. There is no "dealing." No one needed to "deal" with anything.

Also, if a roommate asked me to leave so they could have a big fight in the apartment without anyone tweeting it ...again, leave and go where? For how long?
posted by sweetkid at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygous: And if I meet someone who lacks the maturity to refrain from blabbing about embarrassing things that happen to people just because they happened in public, why would I trust them with more private things?

Well, no one's forcing you to do so, but now you're conflating comedian Kyle Ayers with Mefite Blazecock Pileon.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:27 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, do we know that he's not?
posted by corb at 12:57 PM on November 21, 2013


He's not.
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on November 22, 2013


Please stop live tweeting people’s private conversations, Nisha Chittal, Medium, 30 November 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 6:13 PM on November 30, 2013


A world in which all conversations have to be conducted in the privacy of your home and must cease once you leave the house sounds a little too Orwellian.
Has Chittal ever read 1984?

And while I agree with her apparent thesis, the Elan-Diane thing was crucially different because Gale made himself an active part of the story (a supremely dickish part). The "private conversation" part that he tweeted was slightly invasive, but it wasn't why that tweetstream blew up.
posted by Etrigan at 7:26 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading the Elan-Diane thing, though, I have to say, if I had a stranger sending me awful notes all throughout a plane ride, and then approached me physically in person, I'd be freaked out too! I doubt I would have slapped him, but it would have been terrifying. What is this person going to do to me kind of terrifying.

She was rude, but this guy was a dick.
posted by corb at 7:51 AM on December 1, 2013


Absolutely. If I'd had a guy sending me notes about his dick, I'd be scared about just what his plans were. That's not how sane adults talk to strangers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:19 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, that guy should be up on harassment charges, tweets or no tweets.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:49 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "notes on a plane" feud is fake.
posted by lalex at 11:03 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, I'm sorry, we were looking for "snipes on a plane." Snipes on a plane. lalex, you still have control of the board. Pick a category.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, so he's just a complete dick and not a creeping stalker. Good for him!
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ha. Ha. A couple sitting a table away from me in the coffee shop right now is having some kind of relationship-related argument. OTOH, I'd much rather hear First Wave on the radio than them, OTO, only a wish to be the better person is keeping me from tweeting it out of sheer annoyance.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:06 PM on December 9, 2013


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