Cheryl Gray, 50, single, and unemployed, is like most people 50, single, and unemployed: She's just looking for love. And for a fleeting moment in time, thanks to the trusty Internet, it looked like she found it.
Cheryl met Wylie Iwan, a 35-year-old Applebee's employee, through Facebook -- via Mafia Wars, to be exact -- and the two struck up an online romance. After a few weeks of "dating," Cheryl took it upon herself to take the next logical step: Seeing her boyfriend in the real life. She purchased a plane ticket from Michigan to Iwan's home state of Washington. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Well, a week before Cheryl's departure, Wylie informed her that he met someone else and instructed her to cancel his trip. She did. And then she filed a civil lawsuit for $8,386.88 for defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
At first, Cheryl (and her attorney) just asked Wylie to reimburse her the $956.88 for the trip she didn’t take, plus gifts and flowers she’d sent him. Which, okay, fine, I guess. Much like calling the airline itself, chances are you're not going to get your money back, but it's worth a shot. Then Cheryl dropped that claim and moved on to a civil lawsuit that asked for much more.
Here's the thing: Wylie sounds like a jerk; really, he does. Not only did he pull the most obnoxious trick in the book -- the last minute "I met someone" -- he apparently wrote really nasty things about Cheryl on her Facebook wall. But Cheryl has no business suing over a Facebook romance gone wrong. I mean, what did she expect? They met playing Mafia Wars.
I've come to terms with the fact that Facebook and the Internet are no longer the future, they're the present. But I refuse to accept or agree with people who think that meeting people online doesn't come without caveats. You don't really know these people! Technically, Cheryl could have been talking to a 12-year-old girl. It's not -- and never will be -- the same as meeting people the old-fashioned way: in person.
My heart goes out to you, Cheryl. It sounds like you got duped by a gigantic loser. But my suggestion to you is this: Why not ease up on the Mafia Wars and go for a walk around the block? You never know who you might physically bump into.
Do you think Cheryl has a right to sue?
Image via CarbonNYC/Flickr