- Meagan Glesmann decided to surprise her boyfriend after being away from him for four months.
- He posted a video of the surprise on TikTok, which blew up, receiving 18 million views.
- The couple received intense criticism for his response, but they have learned to deal with it.
When Meagan Glesmann, a 21-year-old college student in Winnipeg, Canada, arrived home after traveling in Hawaii for four months, she decided to surprise her boyfriend with a grand gesture – showing up at a social event without telling him in advance that she was back.
The moment was caught by his friends, who filmed Matthew Boyle, aged 22, looking stunned as his girlfriend walked over to hug him. Glesmann decided to post a 17-second clip of the surprise on her TikTok account because she thought his shocked expression in the video was “funny”.
But things took a sour turn when Glesmann, who has 8,500 TikTok followers and usually receives thousands of views on each of his posts, went viral in a matter of days. To her shock, the post has had 18.5 million views.
Glesmann and Boyle, who told Insider they’re just casual TikTok users who aren’t aware of most viral trends and memes, said they had no idea what they had after going viral.
Viewers quickly compared the video to a previous similar viral moment – but it wasn’t positive
Glesmann and Boyle old Insider were happy to see each other, and that the night was not awkward at all despite Boyle’s initial reaction, which he said was because he “processed” the situation as he was caught off guard protect it.
But Glesmann’s TikTok viewers didn’t see anything that happened between the pair after the cameras stopped rolling, and their reactions to her short video were harsh.
As the video began to gather more views, commentators began to analyze Boyle’s reaction and body language in the clip, saying that he looked “guilty” and “worried” to be seen. Some commentators also said that his response suggested that he had been cheating on her while she was far away.
Many commentators compared Glesmann’s video to a similar clip that went viral in September 2021. It showed a woman surprising her boyfriend in college, but his apparent reluctance to stand up from the couch where he was sitting led to a furious debate about the nature of their relationship. , and widespread speculation about his fidelity. He quickly became known as “Couch Guy,” and the video received 50 million views.
Some viewers of Glesmann’s video said they thought the clip was a deliberate parody or recreation of the “Couch Guy” video, especially since it used the same audio – a clip from “Still Falling for You” by Ellie Goulding. But Glesmann said she had never heard of the original video, and chose to use the audio because she saw it was popular under the hashtag #longdistancerelationship.
“When I posted it and people started commenting, I was like, well, ‘what’s a sofa guy?'” he told Insider. When she looked up and realized the comparison was not positive, she said it was upsetting.
“I probably shed a few tears,” he told Insider.
Going so viral can cause online abuse for the people at the center of these clips
Almost three months after the original TikTok “Couch Guy” blew up, the man in the video wrote an anonymous opinion piece in Slate Magazine, describing the intense experience of reaching that level of fame. He said the online hate made him vulnerable to “intrusions on my privacy” and the “threat of doxxing.”
Glesmann and Boyle told Insider that it was also overwhelming for them to start receiving a huge influx of negative comments on their video.
Online commentators have continually mocked their relationship.
When Glesmann posted a short collection of photos of her and Boyle to celebrate three years of being together on October 13, commenters under the post expressed doubt about how happy their relationship was, suggesting they were trying to hide their problems or “justify” them. relationship.
The couple told Insider that they’ve come to expect that people will have an opinion about anything they post. “This is kind of sad, but, you have to expect it,” Glesmann said.
“People are on these apps for entertainment. And when you get a video that goes kind of viral, you immediately have an opinion about it,” Boyle added.
The couple have said they have become desensitized to much of the negativity. “With the first few comments, I was like, ouch, that kind of hurts. But then there was too much,” said Glesmann.
Boyle told Insider that after a few days, he “pushed” the hate online and tried to move on. “I haven’t lost any sleep over it,” he said.
He continued, “It’s pretty funny that something so innocent has turned into something so big, but it doesn’t really affect me at all.”
For more stories like this, check out Insider’s Digital Culture team coverage here.