Everything You Need To Know About West Elm Caleb, The Internet’s Latest Viral Villain

He's been accused of being a serial ghoster and manipulator, but how much of it do we actually know is true?

west elm caleb

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We’re not even a month into 2022 and the internet has already found a new regular human being to turn into a viral villain. Last year, it was couch guy, but I imagine he is now letting out a huge sigh of relief because “serial dater” West Elm Caleb is the new man TikTok loves to hate.

25-year-old Caleb has gone viral on the platform after several New York women realised they had all dated him. A real John Tucker Must Die moment.

What Do We Know About West Elm Caleb?

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that everything we know about Caleb comes from women on TikTok who claim to have dated him. We obviously can’t be sure all of these women dated him, or that they’re telling the whole truth about their experiences — especially without Caleb’s side of the story.

According to the women, Caleb works as a furniture designer at West Elm — a thing he massively boasts about on the dates, allegedly. He’s also 25 and lives in New York City. And, by the looks of it, he’s taken the whole city on one or two dates before — allegedly — ghosting them completely.

His dating app of choice is Hinge and his MO is sending Spotify playlists to each of the women, which feels like an extremely John Mayer fuckboy energy.

Allegations range from him ghosting women, to gaslighting, and love-bombing. Obviously, it’s important to note that these TikTok trends are often picked up by people with no actual link to the person in question, so we should take it all with a grain of salt until we can actually verify who has even met this mysterious man.

What Has Caleb Said?

The only word we’ve heard from — allegedly — Caleb comes via Kells (one of the original women to call him out) in the form of a text message screenshot.

“I just unfollowed and removed you, didn’t block, because I saw the comments you posted on it. I’m truly shocked and pretty traumatized by this whole thing,” a text message from someone named Caleb read. “I don’t know the vast vast majority of people commenting on the video. People saying I had dates planned, that I was creepy, that I went on a date and din’t pay. People are just commenting to get involved, it seems. And yeah, the nature of the app is very fleeting and ghosting unfortunately is just part of it.

“I was on the app for a couple months and matched with a lot of people before you…And the video just gave every single one of them platform to comment without any need to validate their stories, so yes of course it’s going to sound bad.”

Does He Deserve The Hate?

Like pretty much any viral internet story, it’s not quite as simple as there is a hero and a villain. On one hand, you have a bunch of women using social media to warn each other about potentially shitty men and sharing their stories for the greater good of tearing down the patriarchy. But on the other hand, we have a person who has gone from a virtually anonymous man in New York City to being the poster boy for love-bombing and ghosting before he even had a chance to comment and attempt to clear his name.

Due to the viral nature of TikTok — and the internet in general — we now have a situation in which a man has been doxxed (Junkee has chosen not to use his photo or full name for obvious privacy reasons) without any verification of the allegations themselves, that he is the man who allegedly ghosted these women or any comment from him whatsoever.

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t believe victims, but when it comes to these ultra-viral stories that turn a handful of womens’ allegedly bad experiences with a man into a fully fledged TikTok trend, it’s important to do some fact-checking.

New York Times internet culture reporter Taylor Lorenz — who appeared in the ’15 Minutes Of Shame’ documentary — spoke on TikTok about the dangerous of unregulated collaborative investigation on the platform.

“What it has morphed into is really just public shaming and the absolute humiliation and destruction of this man who we — fundamentally — don’t actually know that much about and we certainly have not heard from [Caleb],” Lorenz said, noting that social media users are flooding the West Elm social media pages with allegations of serious crimes that we have no evidence Caleb ever committed.

Sharing bad dating experiences on social media has always and will always be a thing, but as we shift further towards this world that turns random people into viral news stories in an instant, it’s important that we differentiate harmless storytelling and wanting to share your experiences for the greater good, from full blown doxxing.

We’ve seen this same issue happen time and time again, where an entire community of Extremely Online people initiate a mass pile-on against a total stranger. And as we saw in the case of Matt Colvin, who became a villain for a day after the New York Times wrote about his huge sanitiser stockpile, the full story is very rarely told and often, the mob mentality simply doesn’t care to listen.

West Elm and Caleb are both yet to release any public statements on the situation.