You know how your Android homepage pulls articles it thinks you would like to read into a feed? Today the robots brought me a very dubious present: an apparently popular article featuring my ex-sister-in-law (let's call her Eve) from one of those Facebook-driven clickbait sites. The article is about my brother.
I don't wanna link it, as it uses her real name and photos, but for context, it's got 33,000 shares, and a video that highlights the story has almost 2M views. It's meant to be a love story about her profound struggle to leave her first husband (my brother, who we'll call Jim) to be with her current partner. She seems very happy with the new guy, which is great. But she felt the need to introduce the story by painting my brother as a fat-shaming, dream-crushing, emotionally abusive bastard. In detail. She repeatedly returns to her misery as his wife as a refrain.
Let's be clear: Jim's not a fat-shaming, dream-crushing, emotionally abusive bastard, and nothing in this article revealed anything worrying about him to me. (I know more about the situation — from both Jim and Eve — than I honestly want to.) Jim feels things very deeply but sucks at talking about it. His big expressions of love usually involve kind acts he never mentions to anyone, and he hates spending money. Eve always scaled the highs and lows of her life into Greek epics, and her big expressions of love involved billboards and expensive watches. They got married very young. She walked out on him after 10+ years. They're both much better off. He still blames himself for almost everything.
The melodramatic article is pretty par-for-the-course Eve. But as you might deduce from the above, Jim is a profoundly private person. He cares very much how others see him. I want to curl up and die just thinking about how much he would want to curl up and die reading this article.
Jim and I weren't super close growing up, but we are now. Like a lot of siblings, we're simultaneously polar opposites and the same person. I act more like an Eve than a Jim — case in point, I'm asking about this on MassimoL — but he and I react to emotional situations in very similar ways. If something like this was out there about me, I would want to know, especially since real names and photos are involved in the article. He's not named, but it's a small town. I would be devastated if my loved ones knew and didn't tell me.
I live in another state. I have no idea if he knows about the story. Jim isn't a heavy Facebook user, but it's an important news source to a lot of his friends. My family has a bad habit of hiding things in order to (theoretically) protect loved ones from pain, so I can't really ask them. My personal impulse to tell him is at war with the family habit, and I genuinely don't know which is for the best. Help, kind strangers?
TL/DR: My brother's ex wrote a popular clickbait article outlining how miserable he made her when they were married. My brother is very private and very sensitive. Should I tell him?
It’s already out there. If he’s very private, he might be upset if he finds out you knew and didn’t let him know.
People don’t even read beyond the headline of a news article anymore. Nobody is going to be digging through the internet to find out who this mystery ‘first husband’s is.
It’s a nothing issue, she’s entitled to sing her song. Bring it up to him if you like drama but really there’s nothing to be done.
Honestly, viral articles tend to blow over very quickly. Think of every viral bridezilla/MIL-from-hell/whatever story you’ve seen–how many of them were kicking around for weeks? Usually it’s just a couple days and we’re on to the next story.
If it’s not on the site of a major news organization, I’d put good odds on the link being dead in a few years–new media sites die fast, I’ve lost most of my internet writing. If he hasn’t seen it yet, there might be a very good chance that he never will. If the piece doesn’t mention him by name (you say she uses her own name) and isn’t accusing him of something genuinely life-ruining (i.e. child molestation), I would leave it alone and hope for the best.
If she used his real name and the things she says could be considered damaging to his reputation (which they could because his employer or future dates/friends might choose not to give him a chance because of her allegations), he might have a civil case for libel. You should ask on r/legaladvice what they think about that part. As for telling him, he will probably find out, so hearing it from someone instead of being blindsided by seeing it himself or having a stranger comment on it to him would be kinder, imo. I would ask on the legal sub about possible recourse before telling him so that you can present that as an option to him when you do (assuming it is an option, of course).
I think you should let him know that you saw the article, that you thought it was unfair to him, and ask if he’s aware of it. If he does already know, he might appreciate a sympathetic ear. If he doesn’t know, he would probably much prefer to find out from you than someone he isn’t as close to, who might not choose their words carefully.