What the ‘Try Guys’ Cheating Scandal Tells us About Relationships and Social Media
The Try Guys scandal reminds us why we need to be mindful about how we share our relationships on social media
As an older Gen Z’er or young Millennial (depending on how you look at it), I grew up watching Buzzfeed, and more specifically the Try Guys, who marketed themselves as four best friends passionate about making goofy and entertaining content.
Much like the rest of the world, I was shocked to wake up to the increasing rumours that one of their members (Ned Fulmer) was accused of cheating on his wife Ariel Fulmer, beloved by the fan base, with an employee.
Due to the increasing attention, it was gathering on social media, the Try Guys released a Twitter statement on Tuesday, September 27th stating that Ned Fulmer was no longer part of the Try Guys and that they appreciated the support from fans as they navigate these unchartered waters.
After this news release, both Ned Fulmer and Ariel Fulmer released their own statements about the manner, which confirmed the rumours.
And the internet imploded. The Try Guys subreddit has been incredibly active for the last 48 hours, with fans sharing their thoughts, evidence, opinions, and even hour-by-hour updates on the matter. Countless news media outlets have picked up the story such as CBC News, People, NPR, Wall Street Journal, and even Forbes and the New York Times.
The internet is fascinated by the drama that has unfolded, and it’s clear that more updates on the manner will follow.
Important to note that this article is not going to directly comment on the drama nor is it going to villainize any party — everyone else is doing a fine job of doing it, no need to put my ring in the hat. Further, I am also not going to comment in-depth on the legality or business aspect of the issue as I’m not equipped to do so.
What I will comment on is the phenomenon of public relationships and social media that this specific scandal has highlighted. More specifically, I’m going to discuss the impact of social media on our romantic relationships.
Social Media and Relationships
The digital world has changed the way we date — for better and for worse. Generally, the scholarly literature is divided on the issue.
One study found that the majority of respondents did not have any negative implications on their relationship due to social media usage, in this case, Facebook.
However, another study found that generally, the more time someone spent on social media, the likelihood that the quality of their relationship decreased.
Interestingly enough, in the first study, researchers did find that the way in which Facebook was used did impact relationship satisfaction, based on other factors such as household income. Across all household incomes, when Facebook was used for purposes other than staying in touch with friends and family, relationship dissatisfaction was lower. This was especially the case for lower-income households. Individuals from lower incomes were more likely to be dissatisfied in their relationships if their partner was a heavy Facebook user, no matter the reason for being on the social media platform.
So you may be thinking, what does this have to do with the Try Guys scandal? Well, it’s true that I don’t think money was the big pressing issue as it’s theorized that Ned’s net worth is approximately $10 million according to sources, although I can’t verify this.
The Try Guys scandal, specifically Ned Fulmer himself, illustrates an interesting discussion on publicizing and monetizing your relationship.
For those of you who may not be familiar with who the Try Guys are, each of the men in the group had their own “schtick”. Zach is seen as this lovable, goofy, and innocent guy, Keith is loud and boisterous, with copious food consumption as part of his personality, and then Eugene who is by far the most serious and sarcastic of the bunch and represents the Queer community — whether he intended to or not.
That leaves Ned Fulmer. Who up until this scandal represented the family man, who loves his wife Ariel. He painted a picturesque image of their adorable relationship and kids, often monetizing this for the Try Guys but also for his own career, as he also has his own family channel with 359,000 subscribers.
Ironically or unironically, it is he who has gotten caught up in a very public cheating scandal.
In ad-hoc conversations with friends about the scandal, it’s prompted some interesting thoughts. Ned Fulmer was extremely open with his romantic relationship on social media, I mean it’s what created his brand and career. It’s a formula that works.
I’m sure each of us can mention at least a few relationship-related social media accounts/influencers that we have followed and adored. There’s something really relatable, adorable, and heart-warming about love that we can’t seem to get enough of.
Obviously, this scandal has shattered and highlighted the fragilities of romantic relationships and how they interplay with social media.
A lot of fans are wondering if any of it was real or if Ned was overcompensating for something, despite him opening up his relationship to the public eye. It’s easy to now accuse him of using his relationship and family for clout but we also need to remember that this was a decades-long relationship that preceded its public status.
Personally, I find that this scandal highlights some of my own beliefs surrounding social media and relationships — despite what scholarly literature will say on the matter. For the majority of us, we will never experience a public relationship on this scale (at least I hope I don’t). But even if not, everyone still has an audience if you choose to be on social media. And any type of publicization of your relationship can garner negative impacts for it. Here’s why.
Oversharing any type of relationship is harmful
I do not like to share my relationships on social media — all that much. I think the extent that Ned Fulmer shared his relationship is damaging for many reasons. Firstly, it opens up commentary on your relationship. Relationships are confusing enough without input, and I find that even with the best intentions unsolicited remarks about your relationship can be incredibly stressful.
On the flip side, if you don’t share enough about your relationship online, it can make your partner feel like a secret. This is also not a good feeling to have when you’re romantically involved with someone. It can create tensions and insecure attachments, that lead to bigger problems down the line.
Social media is a highlight reel
I think this scandal articulates this sentiment very well. Social media paints a delightful illustration of images and videos of someone’s life or more specifically relationships. Ned Fulmer did this very well as fans fell in love with the love that he has for his wife, so much so that he created a brand off of it.
It’s impossible to get a real sense of anyone’s relationship based on social media. Obviously, you can get snippets and clues, for example, if someone stops posting their partner for a long period of time, it’s easy to speculate that they may have broken up, but not everything meets the eye. It’s clear that despite the perfect marriage image Ned Fulmer had developed for his relationship, there was definitely much more happening behind the scenes.
Social media can create problems
Simply put, social media creates issues for couples. And these problems can be endless. Social media allows us to connect in ways we’ve never been able to before. In fact, online infidelity is a real issue among many relationships because it makes it easier and saves time. It can literally take seconds to cheat on your partner nowadays.
Cheating is not the only problem it can create. Social media generates issues based on communication such as how or why someone communicates the way they do on social media. For example, I’ve talked to friends who have been unhappy with the way their partners have talked to their friends on social media because they felt what they were saying was disrespectful to them.
It can also create jealousy issues. One wrong like or comment can immediately make your partner feel insecure. Not to mention that social media makes the profiles of other people more accessible, and many people use it as a chance to “stalk” their ex. In fact, 70% of people aged 18–29 have admitted to using social media to check up on their ex.
With the aforementioned points, if we circle back to the Try Guys scandal, I want to make it clear that anything I may have mentioned may not be remotely close to why this happened. Obviously, I’m not Ned, Ariel, or the employee in question. But these points do articulate why social media can be extremely detrimental to our relationships, even if they aren’t as public.
Social media is such a powerful platform with high rewards and even higher risks. Now imagine incorporating your personal relationships into the landscape of it. The result is a very complex connection between your in-person life and digital life.
This is exactly what Ned Fulmer has done as his personal relationships have not only impacted his marriage and family, but it will inevitably cost him his career, friendships, and other interpersonal relationships he may have. Not to mention that he has now broken the trust of his loyal fans who have looked up to him for years.
Ultimately, based on the Try Guys scandal and many others like theirs, I think that the more you share about your relationship on social media, the more problems it can generate. I think that’s why it’s important to be mindful of how you consume social media and what you post online, especially if you want to maintain a healthy relationship in your life.
Social media is a natural extension for sharing the love you have for your partner. I think that can be a beautiful thing. But I do think that creating healthy online boundaries on how much you share is necessary. Unfortunately, Ariel and the kids, who are inevitably the people most impacted by this scandal, are experiencing first-hand why this needs to be the case.