This weekend, 32-year-old Pieter Hanson experienced everyone’s worst nightmare when a parent joins social media: An awkward tweet from his mother led to his being fully and thoroughly meme-ified. The tweet also put his face on a fringe-y political movement he had nothing to do with and actively disagrees with.
The marketing student and Navy vet—who hadn’t even been a Twitter user prior to going viral—was shot into the spotlight thanks to a now-deleted tweet by his mother that made him an unwilling poster boy for the right-wing #HimToo movement, which has coalesced around the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The hashtag has emerged as a way to express solidarity with men accused of sexual assault, as Kavanaugh was by multiple women.
“This is MY son,” Hanson’s mother wrote under a photo of him, posing and looking rather dapper in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”
It didn’t take long for the parodies to start rolling in:
For his part, Hanson told the Washington Post (paywall) that he was mortified by the situation, “It doesn’t represent me at all,” he said, “I love my mom to death, but boy… I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.”
Indeed, Hanson’s plight is an extreme version of something nearly everyone has experienced to some degree since the rise of social media. Where once gullible parents were confined to the privacy of email to share the latest conspiracy theory or diet tip they picked up on the internet, now their most embarrassing proclamations are on view for everyone to see on Twitter or Facebook.
Hanson’s mother reportedly deleted her Twitter account after her tweet went spectacularly wrong. But rather than going dark, Hanson took to Twitter himself, under the handle @Thatwasmymom:
In addition to clarifying his ideological stance, he’s been using his newfound social media fame to urge his now +14K follower base to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Make a Wish foundation, noting that his younger brother is a child survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hanson also shared dozens of photos of his pet cats.
Meanwhile, Hanson’s brother had been playing spokesperson throughout the entire ordeal, gently chastising his mother’s “ridiculous tweet.” He said she has since claimed that her account was hacked, but nobody in her family believes her:
Pieter Hanson himself seems to have come out of the ordeal unscathed. He told the BBC that he goes on plenty of solo dates, which is good news now that he looks well on his way to becoming America’s most eligible and woke bachelor. As for his mother’s tweet, he said: “I was dumbfounded when I saw it, but at the end of the day we all have crazy parents.”