- Meagan Glesmann decided to surprise her boyfriend after being away from him for four months.
- She posted a video of the surprise on TikTok, and it blew up, receiving 18 million views.
- The couple received intense criticism for his reaction, but they’ve learnt to deal with it.
When Meagan Glesmann, a 21-year-old college student based in Winnipeg, Canada, got 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 captured by his friends, who filmed 22-year-old Matthew Boyle 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 who typically receives thousands of views on each of her posts, went explosively viral in a matter of days. To her shock, the post has received 18.5 million views.
Glesmann and Boyle, who told Insider they are only occasional TikTok users who aren’t aware of most viral trends and memes, said they had no idea what they were in for after going viral.
Viewers quickly compared the video to a previous similar viral moment — but it wasn’t positive
Glesmann and Boyle old Insider they were happy to see each other, and that the evening was not awkward at all despite Boyle’s initial reaction, which he said was down to him “processing” the situation as he was caught off guard.
But Glesmann’s TikTok viewers did not see anything that happened between the pair after the cameras stopped rolling, and their responses to her short video were harsh.
As the video began garnering more views, commenters began dissecting Boyle’s reaction and body language in the clip, saying that he looked “guilty” and “worried” to see her. Some commenters also said that his response suggested that he’d been cheating on her while she was way away.
Many commenters compared Glesmann’s video to a similar clip that went hugely viral September 2021. It showed a woman surprising her boyfriend at college, but his apparent reluctance to stand up from the couch where he was sitting led to 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 that they thought the clip was a deliberate parody or recreation of the “Couch Guy” video, especially as it utilized 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 sound because she saw that it was popular under the hashtag #longdistancerelationship.
“When I posted it and people started commenting, I was like, well, ‘what is couch guy?'” she told Insider. When she looked it up and realized the comparison was not positive, she said it was upsetting.
“I probably shed a few tears,” she told Insider.
Going so viral can subject the people at the center of these clips to online abuse
Almost three months after the original “Couch Guy” TikTok blew up, the man in the video wrote an anonymous opinion piece in Slate Magazine, describing the intense experience of reaching that level of notoriety. He said the online hate exposed him to “invasions of my privacy” and “the threat of doxxing.”
Glesmann and Boyle told Insider that for them it was also initially overwhelming to receive a huge influx of negative comments on their video.
Online commenters have continuously ridiculed their relationship.
When Glesmann posted a short compilation of photos of her and Boyle to celebrate three years of being together on October 13, commenters under the post expressed skepticism about how happy their relationship was, suggesting they were trying to cover up their issues or “justify” their relationship.
The couple told Insider they’ve come to expect that people are going to have opinions about anything they post. “This is kind of sad, but, you just 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 became desensitized to a lot of the negativity. “With the first few comments, I was like, ouch, that kind of hurts. But then there were just too many,” said Glesmann.
Boyle told Insider that after a few days, he simply “brushed off” the online hate and tried to move on. “I haven’t lost any amount of sleep over it,” he said.
He continued, “It’s pretty funny that something that was so innocent turned into something so big, but it doesn’t affect me really at all.”
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.