A few months ago, I decided to delete the Twitter app off my phone and to stay off the site on nights and weekends. I smugly bragged about my ability to set boundaries to anyone who’d listen, and endeavored to live my life more mindfully, to appreciate the tangible world in front of me instead of endlessly scrolling through my phone screen. “I’m basically Thoreau now,” I thought, every time I looked at a tree, or at a rat running across the garbage river in the subway tracks. So, how’s that experiment going? Based on the fact that I’ve spent the past 48 hours muttering “he’s his own wife and she’s leaving him,” not great.
For those of you whose brains haven’t been thoroughly poisoned by the internet, allow me to unpack the demented Twitter scandal that unfolded over the weekend.
It all concerns @ElleOhHell, an account which had 24,000 followers and posted a litany of twee and predictable jokes that routinely wound up on lists like “30 of the Funniest Women You Should Be Following on Twitter” and “The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week.” Based on the name and their photo — a drawing of a woman with a low bun and flowers in her hair — it was fair to assume that they were, ostensibly, a woman named Elle.
But at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, @ElleOHell decided to unburden themselves of a secret: @ElleOhHell was not a woman named Elle. She wasn’t a woman at all, but a man, pretending to be their own wife, who was also divorcing him. In my professional opinion: What.
“The avatar is not in fact me, but my wife. She knows about it, and was glad for me to have this creative outlet,” he wrote. “The anonymity was very liberating, and honestly who would want to be a man on the internet. The unintended consequence was that people got hurt.”
“The picture I used most often was of my beautiful wife on our wedding day,” he continued. “Now after many years of marriage and two years of separation … we have decided that divorce is the best course of action for everyone.”
“Please note that I am not Gretchen and I did not try to get a girlfriend out of this,” he also made sure to clarify.
Jade, who goes by @TheDreamGhoul on Twitter, was the first person to post the widely circulated screenshots of @ElleOhHell’s confession. “Elle violated the trust of the women whose DMs he made his way into, and I know several people who spoke freely with him about very personal issues that one would not otherwise talk about with someone operating under a completely false identity,” she told the Cut. “He also tweeted about female-specific experiences, and even made it into a ‘Best Tweets’ list about getting your period. It was at best very entitled, and at worst outright gross.”
Twitter, obviously, had a field day:
@ElleOhHell then changed their avatar to a black circle and their header photo to the word “Sorry,” before fully deleting their account. It’s since been resurrected as a parody.
@ElleOhHell may be gone, but I will cherish him forever in my heart as the man who was his own wife … who’s also leaving him.