[JULY 6, 2023 UPDATE: Not merely content to use his influence to get my account banned, harasser Daniel McLaughlin put together a libelous and defamatory six minute video falsely claiming to be a stalker and a harasser. This pathetic accordion player cannot get enough of me, it seems. His campaign resulted in doxing and death threats against me. I have been forced to produce a four-part documentary response called The Softpourn Chronicles, which thoroughly debunks his untrue claims:
Nine months ago, I wrote an essay documenting how TikTok has gone well out of its way to wage war against the left — specifically, any voice who gets through to people and who isn’t afraid to tell the truth. Well, since that time, Congress has needlessly grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew with such risible inquiries as whether or not TikTok accesses your home wi-fi network (spoiler alert: it does, just like any goddamned app you have open when 5G isn’t enough). And this has put TikTok in the hot seat. In addition to having to demonstrate that the copious data that they collect from a vast panoply of American users resides within the homeland, TikTok now has to assuage centrist Democrats that it is indeed a social media platform devoted to “sensible” thinking. Which now extends into the permanent silencing of any account that actually gets through to people on such underdiscussed matters as class warfare, the homeless crisis, the mental health crisis, and revealing the Democrats to be some of the most spineless capitulators seen in politics ever since Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler, irrespective of the horrific outcome.
Which is a roundabout way of reporting that some faceless moderator decided to play god tonight and permanently suspend my account. Even though I hadn’t accrued any additional strikes. So long, forty thousand plus followers! I loved you all. Truly I did! But, alas, TikTok has deemed a scabrous asshat with a highly punchable face far worthier than my middle-aged mug! Never trust anyone over forty! Amirite?
Well, back on June 4th or thereabouts, I made a jocular video response to a humorless asshole in Cleveland named Dan McLaughlin, who goes by the groan-inducing handle @softpourn. Dan, you see, is a hopelessly pretentious loser (just look at the way this asshole “smokes” his pipe; you almost hope he’ll cultivate a real passion and grow some track lines just so nobody will ever need to photograph this detestable motherfucker again) who somehow accumulated one million followers with his insufferable masturbatory videos concerning the “proper” way of making caffeinated beverages. I know a grifter when I see one and I couldn’t stand the guy. And I was far from alone.
Dan is the kind of fauxbrow scumbag that you quietly hope will find himself on the other end of a fist should he ever live up to his natural Pollyannaish stupidity and deign to proselytize his horseshit in a dive bar. On a recent afternoon, a few weeks after all this happened and fearing that I was alone in my Dan doubt, I showed one of Dan’s TikToks to a highly accomplished Greenpoint barista who I am friendly with and she said, without any prompting from me, “Oh, that guy. Yeah, he’s full of shit. I can’t stand the fucker.” And the barista gave me some inside dirt on what really goes down when it comes to French presses. It turned out that Dan was very, very wrong.
So, yeah, Dan ain’t all that. But on TikTok, Dan is all that. And the last thing that a motherfucker hopped on his own hubris ever wants to hear is that he isn’t what he thinks he is.
Dan McLaughlin has carried on with his insufferable bullshit much in the same way that the avocado toast people first realized that they could bamboozle lazy twentysomethings into paying $12 for something that they could make at home for a hell of a lot less if they were only mindful and patient enough to let an avocado ripen for a few days. Which is to say that Dan McLaughlin is a scam artist.
And late one night, as I was completely unaware that this douchebag had one million followers, I decided to call him out. Much in the way that I have playfully called out many frauds and two-bit con men during my entire life. The gist of my reply — far more benevolent than other TikTokkers who hoped to draw blood — was “For fuck’s sake, eyeball it.”
Of course, this satirical reply didn’t sit so well with Dan — or “Daniel,” as his LinkedIn profile helpfully informs us. Because Dan, you see, is Oh So Fucking Serious about his fucking shitty coffee and his performative antics. On LinkedIn, Dan tells us that, since 2013, he’s “expanded [his] knowledge from standard barista skills to specialty craft roasting.” Which is probably the most pompous thing I’ve read in the last few years that hasn’t been written by Jonathan Franzen.
And Dan sicced his loyal followers on me. There was even one hideous woman who claimed to be a social worker and who insisted that I was disturbed and that she could “help me.” She was swiftly blocked. I am often more self-aware than people realize. What unsettles people is that I simply don’t possess the constitution to play the game. I suppose this is what blasting KMFDM at deafening levels during your teenage years does to a grownass man.
What really pissed me off was Dan leaving a comment claiming that he “doesn’t punch down,” suggesting that this ego-driven charlatan was somehow superior to the 200 million Americans who drink coffee every day and how this fuckwit left this comment on my feed as if I was not a presence. In my time, I have witnessed men pull knives over such assholic solecisms. And while I am a nonviolent man who does not pull knives on people, I did leave a reply pointing out that Cleveland was one of the shittiest places in America and openly contemplating if this coward would have the cojones to say something like this to my face. You know, Internet talk. The opposite of pillow talk and the kind of brutal repartee you engage in to shut down a troll or a heckler.
But because Self-Important Dan had one million followers, my TikTok account went from being in good standing to being on thin ice. I racked up three or four community guidelines violations for defending myself with witty ripostes. I had never intended to harass Dan. I had only intended to outwit a sad little arrogant fuck who wanted to rumble with me. The Brooklyn way. The kind of thing that happens a thousand times every Saturday night in every bar in this borough. But here’s the thing. We still buy pints for each other after the spirited banter is finished. This is what Dan could not understand and may never understand.
Of course, Dan, being a Cleveland rube, doesn’t understand such social nuances. Few people who Always Live Online grasp that it’s really not this contentious! So Easily Triggered and Oh So Superior Dan sent his minions after me.
Since I possessed a modicum of maturity and really didn’t want to spend my life battling Cleveland lowlives, I blocked anyone who Dan sent my way.
Time passed. I lied low. I didn’t post anything political. I put up several installments of a silly satirical noir series involving “the Zebra lady.” I figured I could return to being myself once the strikes disappeared from my record. I still had my account, right?
Even though I had not accrued any additional community guidelines violations since the Dan melee, I learned on Monday night that my TikTok account had been banned. I tried appealing this, but my appeal was denied within seconds.
What I didn’t know was that Dan McLaughlin was humorless bully who apparently lived to shut down voices like mine.
And you know? Maybe it’s a good thing being insignificant again. Throughout my life, I have had a terrific knack for rising to a position of renown and influence through my wit and talent, only to somehow piss off the wrong person and fall hard. My commitment to being real is not quite on the level of Andy Dick and I am not as creepy as that pathetic asshole, but I do have a way of pissing people off despite the fact that I am a congenial fellow if you meet me in person.
Even so, I think that Dan McLaughlin — as much of a solipsistic bastard as he is — may have done me a favor. Now that I’m basically playing the suburban strip mall circuit of right-wing yahoos on YouTube Shorts rather than the Caroline’s or Comedy Cellar of TikTok, I’m now better able to understand that TikTok, for as much fun as it was, might have been very bad for me. There’s something to be said for commitment to authenticity rather than the venal lust for fame. And Dan McLaughlin, who so wants to matter will never know the true artistic freedom of being true to a voice that isn’t beholden to an audience. There will come a point in Dan McLaughlin’s sad little life in which he will learn how irrelevant he is and he won’t be able to cope. I certainly hope he emerges far more humble on the other side, but I have grave doubts. But me? I’ll be very happy and sitting pretty. Because I don’t need one million followers (much less 40,000 followers) in order to live. I’d rather let the right people know me for who I truly am. And that’s better than all the hollow genuflecting that a self-declared “marketing genius” like Dan could never conjure up in a million years.
Dan needs his legions of followers to verify his wildly dubious “expertise” in a way that I never will. There was a rather sad time in my life in which I felt that I needed an audience and it got in the way of being me. But I would rather sacrifice forty thousand followers rather than become some dancing corporate monkey (although I did enjoy dancing on TikTok, only because I enjoy dancing in real life). Dan McLaughlin will never understand this. And that is why I am laughing my ass off at a late hour. Only one of us is truly free.
The big question all of you aspiring influencers have to ask yourselves is this: is the Faustian bargain truly worth it? And here’s a bold corollary: your self-worth sure as hell ain’t determined by some dumbass twentysomething hayseed moderator in Tennessee.