Stop me if you heard -- and believed -- this one: Pretty young woman gets revenge on her jerk boss by revealing his loutish workplace ways in a presentation on a dry-erase board. It's a great story of real-life revenge that everyone can relate to. Too bad it's a hoax.
The tale, as told in a photo gallery on TheChive.com, goes like this: Jenny works as assistant to Spencer, and hates the job and her boss. When she quits the job, she writes out her resignation on a dry-erase whiteboard, and then takes a series of photos of herself holding the whiteboard, and distributes them to her co-workers.
The final insult for Jenny came Friday. As she explains on her whiteboard:
On Friday I transferred you a call
I was about to hang up
When I heard you call me a HOPA
The next board illustrates her puzzlement at trying to figure out what a HOPA is. Then she unscrambles the letters: HOPA = Hot Piece Of" ... well, you can figure the rest out. "Is that really all you thought of me," she says on her whiteboard.
Then she goes on to describe the nasty nickname she and her co-workers had for Spencer, and his work habits -- mostly reading TechCrunch and playing Farmville.
Millions of people around the Internet believed Jenny's story. I was one of them, and tweeted the link out to my friends. Boing Boing's Sean Bonner was suspicious, though.
"Seriously, have people never seen a fake before? Because this is SCREAMING fake. In all caps," Bonner wrote yesterday.
"First of all, who does something like this and doesn't post it on their own blog/tumblr/twitter but instead posts it on a comedy content site?" Bonner says. Also, 33 photos was overkill, no real person would do that much work on the project, says Bonner.
And, indeed, actress Elyse Porterfield confessed to being Jenny on Twitter at about midnight Pacific time:
Yes, I am Jenny (the dry erase board HPOA) :) Thanks to the creative and amazing duo John and Leo Resig at theCHIVE.com.
She explains the hoax in a post today on TheChive. The explanation is spelled out on a whiteboard, of course.
TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis has more about how The Chive punked America for a day:
The photo shoot, which happened that Friday, was for an image board site called The Chive. The Chive (which gets around 5.6 million unique visits a month, according to Google) is part of a network of viral sites run by brothers Leo and John Resig, who have a storied history of manufacturing Internet hoaxes, most notably the $10,000 Donald Trump tip and the infamous virgin text messages her dad that she lost her virginity. Both hoaxes ended up punking various mainstream media outlets including Fox News, Gawker and Jay Leno.
Jenny's story turned out to be a comedy, but the same tale gets played out as drama every day in the news. Many people believe Barack Obama is faking being an American citizen, and that the U.S. government executed the 9/11 attacks. Liberal economists claim the stimulus package saved the economy, conservatives say it made the recession worse. Each side claims the other is perpetrating a massive hoax.
Journalism and blogging has become hoax-driven. But at least "Jenny" is nice to look at.
By the way, I don't believe "HOPA" was actually a word before The Chive made it up. As a matter of fact, I don't believe any of this happened at all. And how do you know I even exist? You don't. The movie Inception is the true story of all of our lives, and we don't have a spinning top to tell us what's real.
Mitch Wagner is a freelance technology journalist and social media strategist.