November 13th, 2017
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sad for everyone she hurt (but I do get why a 13 year old was worried that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, and I’m sympathetic about the fact that being a teenager means being immature and doing things that you later regret):
Schultz’s fraud was as true to the catfish genre as can be. She told the people who discovered she was not who she said she was that she assumed the identity because she felt as if she couldn’t write about baseball professionally as a woman, especially at the age of 13. As the deception went on, she couldn’t figure out how to get out of the middle of her web of lies.
Over time, Ryan formed serial relationships with women who use Twitter to talk about baseball and hockey. Some women told me that he would get drunk and berate them; others told me they felt emotionally abused and manipulated because he would imply that he’d hurt himself if they didn’t continue to talk to him. Ryan received nudes from at least two women I spoke with, one of whom said she did it because she was afraid he would hurt himself if she didn’t.
Schultz’s story is interesting for reasons far beyond its sheer shock value. It’s entirely reasonable that at the time she created the Ryan persona, she might not have thought she could easily have a career writing about baseball as a woman. She’s also drawn a big red arrow sign pointing toward the exploitative ecosystem of online sportswriting, which created the conditions for her to get her enviable opportunities without much interrogation from editors who have a lot to do and few resources with which to do it.
Most of all, though, there are real women who have been genuinely hurt by their interactions with a woman who, as she tells the story, caught herself up in a lie she didn’t know how to untell, not least because it was bringing her what she wanted.