twitter chatter

When Buzzfeed writer Grace Spelman was a teenager, she was a huge Harry Potter fan. She was also a fan of Mugglecast, a popular Harry Potter podcast, going so far as to add one of the podcast’s hosts, Benjamin Schoen, as a friend on Facebook.

But when Schoen purportedly reached out to her years later with the following tweets, she wasn’t prepared for his utter inability to handle polite rejection.

When Schoen allegedly tried to woo Spelman on Facebook, she politely let him know she was seeing someone.

Then Schoen allegedly got very upset in a series of now-deleted tweets.

Seemingly not taking a hint, he also allegedly sent this email.

In response, Schoen doubled down on his rhetoric, alternating between insulting Spelman further…

…and playing the victim.

In an ironic twist, Schoen is the co-founder of a feminist website, Feminspire. But a former staff member alleged that the majority of Feminspire’s contributors had left the site in part because of Schoen’s toxic behavior and unhealthy relationship with the co-founder (and Schoen’s then-girlfriend).

A current Mugglecast host also weighed in with support for Spelman.

Schoen provided a statement to The Daily Dot, claiming he would take legal action against Spelman and that her motives were self-serving.

“I have done more for the cause of advancing women’s rights than any of the people who are criticizing me. This so-called crisis is manufactured by Ms. Spelman as a way to increase her profile as a social justice warrior. I grew up without a father and I spent years protecting my mother from scummy men and dealing with all of the difficulties that come with not having a male role model. Am I rough around the edges? Sure. Am I a predator? Absolutely not. If you read the email I sent Ms. Spelman it was not threatening and was filled with apologies. I even offered to connect her with people who could help her career. I had no interest in continuing contact with her afterwards since I was offended by the manner in which she ended our interaction. I represent no threat to her and her painting me into a villain and sending all of her sycophants after me is incredibly disappointing and immature. My attorney tells me I have a case already but I’m not going to go that route unless Ms. Spelman continues to attempt to unjustly tarnish my image.”

Due to Spelman and Schoen’s relative notoriety, this entire saga played out in a public forum. But it’s a scenario that could happen to anyone.

Though there are no studies that show the percentage of Facebook users who are friends with someone they’ve never met in real life, a famous study by Oxford University scientist Robin Dunbar estimates that most human brains can’t handle a social group of more than 150 acquaintances. Despite this, 15 percent of Facebook users have more than 500 friends.

Saying you should never connect with someone you don’t know personally might be overly alarmist in this day and age. But Spelman felt the need to publicly discuss her encounter with Schoen precisely because there are so many other young women like her out there.