This was a couple who were no strangers to receiving lots of attention online. After all, they were rather well-known. However, this was a different case. It was not only a big hit among the people who followed them… the story was soon picked up by publications from different parts of the globe! They were confused about what was happening. They went through the comments hoping to figure out what about it made it go viral. At last, they saw it.
Dan Hennessey and Wendy Joseph were not always huge Internet stars. As a matter of fact, there was a time when social media was not as big as it is at the moment. Strangely enough, their love story would not have gotten its start without it! The story began in 2006. Back then, they were nothing more than college kids. They had not met each other yet, but they would cross paths soon. How did it happen?
At the time, Dan was an 18-year-old Exercise Science sophomore. Meanwhile, Wendy was a 17-year-old girl fresh out of high school. She hoped to start a career in the field of public healthcare. He was an outgoing guy who liked to party and meet new people. After hearing about Facebook, he signed up in no time. The social network was still in its early days and solely used by college kids, primarily for dating. This was how he and Wendy first met.
He turned to Facebook to meet other people and make new friends. One fateful day, he saw a girl called Daphne, and they had a couple of mutual friends. He shot her a message but did not get a reply. He was undeterred and went through her list of friends. This was how he stumbled upon Wendy’s profile. After seeing her photos, he was smitten and sent her a message. Back then, she was wary of strangers online. She did not reply and instead talked to Daphne about this. Her friend had a few choice words for him!
Daphne let Wendy know that she also got a message from the same guy. Wendy chose not to reply as well. A couple of weeks passed when he tried again. She was intrigued and checked out his profile, only to learn that he knew some of her high school friends. She responded to his message, which marked the start of their friendship. He wanted to meet up, so he asked her and her pals to a party he was throwing.
The only thing was that he had not really planned a party since he thought she would only shoot him down. He was surprised that she did, so off he went to organize a party. It was a good thing that he pulled it off. On the night of the party, the two of them got along in no time. They talked and danced the night away. After the others left, she stayed there to hang out with him some more. The two of them had chemistry, but this did not always mean that it would work out.
She had only gotten out of a long-term relationship, while he was truly enjoying the party lifestyle. They decided to simply stay friends. They got really close as well. Half a year later, Dan and Wendy decided they were now ready to give things a shot. Sadly, it turns out that fate had something in store for them.
Her love life was in full bloom. At least that was what she thought. She started to focus on other parts of her life. She devoted herself to her studies, while he continued to be a social butterfly and the life of the party. A couple of years passed, but Wendy was still far from her goal of getting a master’s degree. It was then that she found a message in his inbox that threw her off completely.
It began as a seed of doubt in her mind, but her suspicions only kept growing as they stayed together. He was still active on Facebook, so Wendy kept an eye on his growing list of friends with suspicion. Not long after she started to turn down his invitations to study, he started to go out without her. While he had grown up over the years, he was still a party animal.
This message looked innocent enough, but Wendy simply could not forget what she saw. He must have forgotten to log out of his account and left the messages open. She had been going over her notes when the notification came in. She was hesitant to check, but her curiosity won out in the end. She was devastated when she saw that it came from one of his many female friends on the social media site.
She simply could not help herself and started to go through all of his Facebook messages. She did not really see anything incriminating, but she did see a lot of exchanges between him and other women. What made things worse was the fact that they were all young, successful, and had graduated already. Wendy could not help but feel like a failure in comparison to them. Her fears eventually consumed her.
What could she do? She felt like their relationship was going beyond her control already. Their bickers turned into huge rows now that her insecurities and his refusal to compromise came into play. What if he meets someone else, she thought. An evil voice inside her head asked, what if he already did?
Let us take a look at the present, shall we? Wendy could not believe her eyes when she saw that the likes on the photograph reached the 60,000 mark. Comments kept coming in as people started to share it over and over again. Everyone was determined to say something about the photo. What was the reason the photograph garnered so much attention anyway?
When she called it quits with him a long time ago, it felt like the logical thing to do. Dan and Wendy had been young when they first met each other. She knew that a lot of things, her included, changed in the span of seven years. After seeing the photograph, she knew that it was the best decision of her life.
While she was devastated to think that she will have to cut him out of her life, Wendy knew that she had to put herself first. She had to find out what sort of woman she could be. She then went on to get the Master’s Degree in Public Administration that she worked she hard for. However, it turned out that staying away from her ex was going to be tougher than she thought.
Dan was not happy when Wendy broke up with him. He did not want to give her up. He kept messaging her every single day during the year and a half that they had been separated. He held onto the hope that his persistence was going to pay off in the end. In the meantime, Wendy found her calling at last.
Even though it had been a rough time for him, he soon realized that she was right. Wendy launched a YouTube channel called Wendy’s Curls and posted beauty tutorials where she gave hairstyling tips. She shed off the old look she had and started to embrace her natural beauty instead. Her fans loved it! However, it seemed like fate wanted to intervene once again.
One fateful day, they bumped into one another after spending months without seeing each other. He was amazed at how good she looked. It was like seeing her for the first time again! He fell in love with the same confident and strong woman once more. But how did she feel? She still had reservations.
Wendy broke up with him so that they could find out who they were and learn more about themselves. Even though it was hard for her, she knew that this was the way things had to be. During the time they spent apart, she became a YouTube personality with a lot of followers. Her confidence had come back.
Did he change a lot during that time as well? Wendy thought that he did. He had tried so hard to get her back and prove to her that they were good for each other. He did not date anyone else during their time apart. He managed to prove to her that he wanted the relationship to work, so she gave him another shot. She had no idea that their antics would one day go viral.
He started to appear in her videos, and they saw that her fans liked to see content of them together. They then started to make videos, gave relationship advise, and talked about what life is like for them as a couple. He opened an Instagram account and earned more than 25,000 followers. It might sound like a lot, but it is nothing compared to the 105,000 followers she had. In December 2017, the lovebirds celebrated their 10th anniversary! They had no clue that it was going to be an internet sensation.
To celebrate the special occasion, she uploaded a side-by-side photo on both Facebook and Instagram. The left portion showed them when they started going out, while the right one showed a more recent photo. Even though they did not put a lot of effort into it, the post still exploded. In a couple of weeks, it received more than 60,000 likes. News outlets like The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Independent even covered the story. What was the reason they paid so much attention to it?
After seeing the two photos, people were impressed by how different the two of them seemed. How did they look even younger now than they did a decade ago? “Do you both age in reverse?” one user asked them. “What fountain of youth are you drinking from?” another user asked. In the end, they revealed the secret to their transformation. They told everyone what helped them look so happy and healthy!
Even before the couple met, Dan and Wendy were already both interested in health and fitness. This was easy to see when you consider their career choices. It is not surprising that the two of them work hard to stay in shape. When her YouTube channel made it big, they realized that getting into fitness had been a natural progression. They began to post nutrition tips and workout tutorials. They had a vision that went beyond a YouTube channel!
Together, the two of them launched True4You Fitness, which is a fitness coaching company that gave exercise and nutrition advice to clients. They created a wellness YouTube channel as well, but they do talk about their relationship and lives as well. In September 2016, they had something to tell everyone.
Dan and Wendy went to Paris on a holiday with some of their friends in September 2016. He cooked up a surprise for her on the day that they went to the Eiffel tower. His pal was there to record the whole thing as Dan got on his knee, took out a diamond ring, and asked the love of his life to marry him.
Of course, Wendy told him yes! She was thrilled that she forgot which hand she should put on the ring. It sounds like something from a fairy tale. Their lives were about to be even more magical. That Paris trip was not the last time they traveled whatsoever. It was time for them to travel and go on an adventure together. They saved some money and traveled abroad with each other for months at a time!
Wendy and Dan save up enough money from the fitness business to visit Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Thailand, and other places! After they returned to the United States, they first headed to Las Vegas and planned the wedding day. What else did the two of them plan to do in the future anyway?
Wendy and Dan are both originally from New Jersey. They both reached the decision that it was time to enjoy more sun by moving to San Diego, California. It had all the sun and surf that they could ask for, which is why they wanted to settle down there. Let us see what else the cards have in store for them.
Their YouTube and Instagram profiles have only gotten stronger and stronger. They recently branched out to a website on top of that. The main goal they had was to help people from different parts of the globe reach the fitness goals they had. They succeeded in doing this! It seems like the lovebirds who train together stay together. Their love story sure sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? However, it is always a good idea to take everything you see on social media with a grain of salt…
She studied the photo for a few moments. Now that she knew the truth, she could hardly believe her eyes. How could she have let herself be deceived for more than a month? She could not fathom what they just told her. Why would her own daughter do a thing like this?
Dutch woman Zilla van den Born had gone into modeling when she was only 16 years old. Soon enough, she was smitten by the way her photos were manipulated to show her in a completely different light. She saw how hard the photo editors worked to ensure that the photos looked nothing short of perfect. However, she did not always agree with the modifications that they made.
She was 25 years old when she made the decision to go into the arts. Zilla enrolled herself in a graphic design course at the Art Academy of Utretcht. Her family and friends knew that it was her dream to travel the world, so it did not come as a surprise when she told them that she was going on a solo 5-week Southeast Asia trip. They had no idea that her photographs were going to cause a controversy!
With all her luggage in tow, she was dropped off at the airport in April 2014. Without missing a beat, she took to Facebook to post a photo of the sendoff. Comments began to come in from her friends and followers who were both awed and envious that she was going on what sounded like the adventure of a lifetime! However, no one could have suspected the truth about her big trip.
Zilla posted photos of her adventures in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in the 5 weeks that followed that post. She would post snapshots of herself in the sapphire blue waters of the gorgeous beaches in Asia. She took shots of herself against the Bangkok skyline and showed everyone the local cuisine she enjoyed. Who would have thought that these photographs would later inspire a lot of backlash?
She posted photo after photo on her social media platforms, much to the envy of all her Facebook friends. One album was called “Thailand, the land of smiles.” It had photos of her with a Buddhist monk in awe-inspiring temples. Her followers paid attention to her posts and waited for more documentation of her seemingly idyllic life. She never failed to satisfy their cravings!
She spent time with all her new friends, went diving in the clear waters of Phuket, and posed with local children as well. From the way her photos looked, it never even occurred to anyone that there was something amiss here. Everyone thought that she was simply living the best possible life on the planet.
Zilla had been busy on the road but never failed to keep her loved ones posted by calling them on Skype from the comfort of her hotel rooms. Not once did they suspect that she was only maintaining a façade that she had created so elaborately. Her parents did not once think that their daughter was anywhere but in Southeast Asia. It was all a front.
As her vacation came to a close, her folks were excited to see her come back and tell them all about the adventures she had. They felt happy for her and could not help but feel proud that their daughter had been brave enough to go on such a challenging journey on her own. However, everyone was left in shock when she revealed what she had been doing in the past 5 weeks.
She added exotic props all over her apartment and simply staged the video calls she made! It turns out that all she needed was a couple of paper umbrellas to fool everyone into thinking that she was in Asia. After her loved ones dropped her off at the airport, she disguised herself and went back to her place.
The truth was that she did not go anywhere but her apartment during those 5 weeks. No, it had all been a part of her social experiment. She did not leave Amsterdam or her apartment the whole time. When it comes to the photos, she simply photoshopped herself to make everything more believable. On Vimeo, she created a video to explain how she did this incredible feat.
Zilla even watched Asian cooking videos before she recreated them in the comfort of her own kitchen. She did this to make it feel even more authentic. She successfully faked snorkeling shots in the backyard swimming pool. She simply added the exotic animals with the help of Photoshop. It had been a risky hoax, and she worked hard to ensure that the plan was going to be perfect.
Without a doubt, the most challenging part of this 5-week long challenge was convincing others of the friends that she met there. She decided to create fictional identities for these people and staged Facebook conversations to make the experience sound more believable to all the people she loved.
She literally spent weeks working on this elaborate ruse and fooled everyone into believing her. She transformed her environment to create the illusion that she was on a fantastic adventure. It was a tiresome process, and she had to make sure to keep it all a secret. However, the revelation only baffled her loved ones. Why did Zilla go through all that effort to pull this off?
It was actually a project for the university course she was taking. Zilla wanted to prove just how powerful a tool social media can be when it comes to shaping the way people thought of their lives. She wanted to show just how easy it was to portray oneself in another light with the use of social media.
“…it’s not only the models in the magazines, but also our friends on social media who contribute to this fake reality. We should be more careful about what we believe, and ask ourselves why a photo is made — how and by whom and with which intention,” explained Zilla. What a powerful message!
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media – we create an ideal world online, which reality can no longer meet,” she expounded in an interview, “My goal was to prove how common and easy it is for people to distort reality. Everyone knows that pictures of models are manipulated, but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”
It turns out that not all of the photos had been edited. For the shot with the Buddhist Monk, she just went to the temple closest to her home. Don’t you think that it is ironic how it was those photos that were the most authentic ones that she posted during those 5 weeks? Her elaborate hoax has gotten mixed reactions.
Some of her fans on Facebook praised her for the message she delivered. Others, especially her loved ones, felt betrayed and hurt by the lies she told. “If I had the chance to do it again, I don’t think I would,” Zilla confessed to BuzzFeed. “I really underestimated the impact of the project on myself and the people around me.”
We would love to hear your thoughts on the social experiment? This is a good thing to remember in case you feel jealous of the idyllic lives your friends seem to have. While it is normal to feel unhappy with our lives sometimes, our Facebook feeds do not show us the reality. The next time that you feel envy, remember that seeing is not always believing. Man, how the times have changed!