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How A “Teenage” Ariana Grande Fan Broke Twitter By Posting From Her Mum’s Fridge

Tell me if you believe this story: An American mother confiscates her 15-year-old daughter’s phone after she leaves a pot of rice on the stove for too long, causing a fire that almost burns down the house. Lost without her phone, she turns to her Nintendo 3DS. “I’m leaving forever,” she writes in a tweet, only for her mother to confiscates her 3DS a day later. It prompts the girl to write another message to her Twitter followers using her Wii U, and when that is snatched up by her mother too, she turns to her family’s Smart fridge: “I do not know if this is going to tweet,” she writes, “I am talking to my fridge… my mom confiscated all of my electronics again.”

That’s the story playing out on Twitter, right now.

Fifteen-year-old Dorothy, who told me she does not want to share her surname, says all of this is very true. “Sadly, I’m tryna get my stuff back,” she tells me via Twitter DM, a platform she’s able to access again thanks to her cousin, who she says let her “borrow an iPod to text my friends.”

Unfortunately, Dorothy says she doesn’t have a charger and her battery is low. Our conversation is brief.

Since Monday, Dorothy’s story has been screenshot and retweeted and shared thousands of times. The interest has resulted in a grassroots hashtag campaign (#FreeDorothy) and personal messages from the accounts belonging to Twitter (the site she is so desperate to access) and Samsung (the company that apparently stocked her house with a fridge capable of sending tweets).

“I’m kinda shocked,” she says. “I want to thank everyone for the support but it’s hard with limited access to Twitter.”

Dorothy says her tech was taken from her about two weeks ago. I ask her when she thinks she’ll get her stuff back and she says her mom is getting someone to take the fridge away now, so really, she doesn’t know. The iPod she uses now stays hidden in her school bag. “Hopefully she doesn’t find out,” she writes.

“I nearly burned the house down so she’s mad.”

It’s entirely possible that Dorothy is a 15-year-old girl dealing with the rapid clamp down of a strict parent who has, frankly, had enough of their troublesome teenager always trying to access the internet. It’s equally possible that Dorothy is just a stan account, someone roleplaying as a teenage girl obsessed with Ariana Grande because, well, why not? When I ask her if she has any friends on Twitter, she points to the people she follows: a litany of stan accounts with pictures of celebrities as their profile photos and bios that link to things like a pre-order site for Katy Perry’s new single. Dorothy also retweeted a tweet from Twitter, one that joined the #FreeDorothy brigade.

Stan culture encourages and rewards creating accounts in the guise of another identity. Often, it’s in the shape of a soccer mom, that cropped-haired, “can-I-speak-to-the-manager” classic embedded into online culture. Only a few years ago, hundreds of Lady Gaga fans were caught out pretending to be soccer moms to manipulate radio play of Gaga’s latest single.

Dorothy tells me people are calling for her to be verified on Twitter. “They wanna fight my mom,” she says.

“I don’t know how it works but I don’t know why I’d be verified, I’m an Ariana stan.”

Whether she’s a teenager obsessed with finding her way online, or stan account stumbling upon virality, it doesn’t really matter who Dorothy is. She has used social media to create a narrative – going so far as to tweet from a fridge – and it’s those moments online that find you remembering why you enjoyed the internet in the first place, before it got all fake newsy and data hungry and sad.

Stan culture is ravenous and unique and smart. Within it, people are anonymous because the person behind the account doesn’t matter: all that matters is the celebrity they want to push, or the influencer they want to see blow up. If they get attention, you win.

I ask Dorothy if she wants to let the world know anything about her that they didn’t already know.

“Tell them to stream Ari’s new single,” she says.

Sometimes it’s easier to go viral when you’re anonymous.



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