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Why TikTok's 'Couch Guy' Left The Internet So Triggered

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Why TikTok's 'Couch Guy' Left The Internet So Triggered

Whether you're on TikTok or not, at this point you've likely heard of 'Couch Guy'.

Perhaps the biggest internet detective case since we all tried to work out the whereabouts of Tiger King star Carole Baskin's first husband, Couch Guy has taken the internet by storm.

To summarise, Couch Guy is TikToker Lauren Zarras' boyfriend, Robbie, and he was given this title after Lauren shared what was meant to be a happy video of herself surprising him at university.

But it all proceeded to go disastrously wrong when people thought Robbie's body language was a little off in the video, and decided, with absolute certainty, that he must be cheating on her.

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Watch the clip for yourself:


In the TikTok, Lauren is led into the uni living room by her boyfriend's friend, only to see him sat on the sofa with three girls.

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You can see that one of the girls moves a little further away from Robbie as Lauren walks in, and he shuffles his hands around, in what some believe was the moment a girl passed him his phone.

Then, Robbie smiles somewhat sheepishly and looks at his girlfriend before eventually getting up to greet her.

The most obvious explanation here is that he's in sheer shock at the surprise visit, and perhaps a little embarrassed at the whole ordeal being filmed.

But instead people concluded that the only explanation was that Robbie was being unfaithful.

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The Couch Guy has become a TIkTok phenomenon (Credit: TikTok/ @laurenzarras)
The Couch Guy has become a TIkTok phenomenon (Credit: TikTok/ @laurenzarras)

And so the saga begun...

Without a shred of evidence, thousands and thousands of reaction videos have followed, honing in on Robbie's every movement, millisecond my millisecond, in a desperate bid to prove just that.

And before you know it, people were even acting out the moment for themselves, depicting Robbie's antics on the couch in a more and more ridiculous manner each time, until the couple and their possible heartbreak became nothing more than a caricature, or a scene from a soap opera.

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Taking to her TikTok, Lauren wrote: "[It] breaks my heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity. Please think because you assume anything about my relationship."

Meanwhile, Robbie also issued a stark reminder to people not to be "creeps".

But why is it that everybody got so invested in a situation they know nothing about? And what caused everyone to form such passionate opinions about this random guy's fidelity, after watching a 30 second video clip?

Breaking it down during an exclusive chat with Tyla, Environmental Psychologist Lee Chambers says that the reason Couch Guy caused such a dramatic response is because people resonate with what the saga symbolises.

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The "cheating partner" is something that many of us have trained ourselves to be on high alert for over the years, and indeed, many of us have experienced first hand.

"It's a stereotype that has multiple facets," Lee explains. "From the fading long-distance relationship, the adolescent to adult journey down different paths, to the freedom and temptation of the campus.

Couch Guy told people not to be creeps (Credit: TikTok/ @laurenzarras)
Couch Guy told people not to be creeps (Credit: TikTok/ @laurenzarras)

"Some people will definitely draw on memories of their own and things they have seen, and overlay it onto what they see today. And given how some entertainment such as reality TV shows script this kind of 'drama', that can also bleed through to everyday life."

Essentially, we're triggered by what Robbie might have been doing, because many of us have been Lauren in that worst case scenario, seen our friends go through something similar or even made similar indiscretions ourselves.

Lee adds that the current climate we're living in has also heightened how guarded and suspicious we are, as a society.

"In many ways, we are still recovering from a period of massive instability," he says. "People are still hyper-aware of situations that may have signs or red flags that signify danger.

"For some people, this is still on overdrive and can lead to looking for these threats in a variety of situations, including online - and with the very narrow view that social media can give us, sometimes we can get fascinated at becoming the detective and searching for clues so we can solve the mysteries of others."

Senior therapist Sally Baker, from Working On The Body, agrees, adding that we often think we can validate our own ideas about love and relationships in the process.

"Forensically examining Couch Guy's TikTok for tell tale hidden meaning or extrapolating minutia to discover potential cheating allows people to vicariously experience their own relationship fears, from mere disappointment at best or out and out betrayal at worst," she says.

Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter

Basically, if you're feeling insecure, and want to prove that all men are trash, then you're going to look at Robbie's behaviour through one lens only.

There's a more sinister side to it, too. Both Lee and Sally concur that some people do indeed get pleasure from watching another relationship crumble, or hailing others as an example of 'failure'.

"Watching someone else’s relationship possibly falter and fail in the glare of social media can make those laughing from the sidelines feel smug," Sally states.

While Lee adds: "There is no doubt that certain people derive enjoyment from others coming to harm, especially through a virtual lens.

"When considering Schadenfreude is a prevalent emotion on social media, it is easy to see how this can extend to the pleasure of seeing the misfortune of other couples.

"The source can be a variety of factors, from dislike of the characters or a feeling of injustice, to identifying closely with a character or having been through a similar experience."

Social media has turned us all into sleuths (Credit: Shutterstock)
Social media has turned us all into sleuths (Credit: Shutterstock)

It all boils down to the fact that social media doesn't tell the whole story, yet we convince ourselves otherwise. Like celebrities, or our favourite reality stars, we've latched onto Couch Guy as a cultural symbol, whilst simultaneously ignoring the fact he's a real person, too.

"Social media provides a curated snapshot of our lives," says Lee. "And it often leaves us trying to fill in the blanks.

"We are becoming increasingly aware of just how certain platforms give us seconds or a single image of a moment, but at the same time, this becomes the only evidence we have available to create a perception on.

"These micro-moments can become consistent and leave us feeling like we know individuals, and have the ability to make judgements by trying to join the dots on what we think we know.

"As social media content has become shorter and snappier, so have peoples judgements about what isn't directly said or explicitly laid out."

Couch Guy isn't the ex that cheated on you, he's just a dude from a viral TikTok.

But pair a common relationship anxiety with an app full of internet sleuths and it's not surprising that he's become such a phenomenon...

Featured Image Credit: TikTok

Joanna Freedman
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