People Who Shared Unpopular Opinions and It Ruined Their Lives

February 25th 2016

Laura Donovan

People often use the internet to vent about their problems and to share unpopular thoughts. Sometimes, those posts go viral, and the backlash can be difficult: A person can find themselves bombarded with flak from strangers in a short period of time and can subsequently struggle to distance themselves from the outcry in the future.

Here are a few individuals who learned the hard way that opening up online can be a major risk, especially if most readers are going to disagree with what you have to say.

1. Talia Jane

Talia Jane Twitter

Talia Jane, a Yelp customer service employee and aspiring writer, made headlines in mid-February when she published an open letter on Medium to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, in which she complained about struggling to live on her Yelp earnings in the ultra-pricey San Francisco Bay Area. Jane complained that her biweekly pay of $733.24 was barely enough to survive on and that she hadn't bought groceries since starting her job.

The post swiftly went viral and ultimately led to her termination for violating Yelp's terms of conduct. Some people agreed with Jane that it's nearly impossible to live on low earnings in expensive places. But much of the response to Jane was highly negative. A fellow writer named Stefanie Williams inserted herself into the mix by writing a brutal takedown of Jane that racked up more than 5 million views on Business Insider.

Stefanie Williams

Williams wrote that she knows what it's like to have a non-glamorous job — she worked as a bartender — but that whining about it isn't helpful.

"Trust me when I say there are far more embarrassing things in life than working at a restaurant, washing dishes, or serving burgers at a fast-food window," Williams wrote. "And one of them, without one shred of doubt, is displaying your complete lack of work ethic in public by asking for handouts because you refuse to actually do work that at the ripe old age of 25 that you think is unworthy of your witty, tweet-creating time."

Williams concluded by mentioning that Jane expressed an interest in writing memes someday:

"You wanted to write memes? Darling, you just became one."

Jane wrote in a follow-up Medium post that she has been offered jobs and money since going viral, but she has also had to fend off a lot of trolls.

2. Natasha Chenier


Exactly one year ago, a young woman named Natasha Chenier published a piece in Jezebel about being sexually involved with her biological father, who left Chenier's mother when she got pregnant. Chenier said she and her father experienced Genetic Sexual Attraction, which a woman named Barbara Gonyo first introduced a few decades ago after meeting the son she put up for adoption and feeling attracted to him. Genetic Sexual Attraction is described as an attraction between two relatives who didn't interact early in life and experience attraction to each other when they finally meet later on.

As Chernier expected, a lot of people criticized the piece and her relationship with her father. Chenier told Slate several months after her story was published that she is no longer in contact with her mother's family. She added that she pitched a piece about "Mad Max" to Jezebel following the response to her initial article, but that she never received a response.

Chenier felt strongly that her incest story was an important one to share with the world, but that it wasn't until the piece went live that she understood its full impact.

“[When] I step back and think about everything I put on the line, ... it’s just, ... wow," she told Slate. "It’s a lot. It’s everything."

3. Samantha Brick

Samantha Brick Twitter

Four years ago, many expressed outrage after writer Samantha Brick penned a piece in the Daily Mail about women treating her horribly because of her good looks.

"[There] are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks," she wrote, adding that she had lost female friends over her attractiveness. "I’m not smug, and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room."

A lot of people who read the piece, however, absolutely found Brick to be "smug." Though she is also a journalist and producer, many remember her only for a viral piece that alienated women.

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