TikTok’s Couch Guy Is Not Your Friend

Not every video posted on social media is an invitation to invade strangers’ personal lives.


Episode Notes

It can feel nice to form bonds with people we don’t know by following their lives online! It can also be invasive. On today’s episode, Rachelle and Madison look at an instance of parasocial relationships gone wrong as one long-distance college couple’s reunion turned TikTok users into amateur investigators looking for signs of infidelity. Why did TikTok give these teens the true-crime treatment? Did they invite the scrutiny for even posting in the first place? To read more about parasocial relationships online, check out Madison’s piece, “John Mulaney Doesn’t Owe You Squat.”

Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder and Derek John.


About the Show

Join Madison Malone Kircher and Rachelle Hampton twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back. All episodes


  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr's demise.

  • Madison Malone Kircher is a senior writer at Slate. She was previously a staff writer at New York magazine, where she covered internet culture and edited New York’s Approval Matrix. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vulture, and the Cut. Madison lives in Brooklyn, where she regularly drops her phone on her face watching TikToks in bed.