If you haven’t seen this photo yet, you’ll soon be seeing it everywhere, as it went viral in the social media community over the weekend. And along with the picture comes the controversy. The great debate. Is the photo real, or manufactured? Is Taelor Vega a real person, or was a fake facebook profile created by Johnny Heward as a marketing ploy to draw attention to his music? (A quick google search will reveal that the “hero” in this tale is an up-and-coming musician.)
Public opinion seems split, almost 50/50. There are those praising Mr. Heward for his noble (and hilarious) reaction to Ms. Vega’s proposition, and there are those calling him a liar and an attention-seeking narcissist looking for publicity. The naysayers are steadfast in their accusations, as the thought of an Army wife seeking attention from other men while her husband is away is absolutely repulsive to them. (As it should be.) As an Army wife, I can tell you with 100% certainty something that my fellow wives and I have always known….Taelor Vega is real.
She’s real in the sense that she’s a very valid representation of a serious problem in the military community, kind of the way Santa Claus is real in the sense that he represents the “Christmas Spirit”. Whether there is or is not an actual girl named Taelor Vega, and whether or not that message was genuine or fabricated is not for me to decide. You know what they say, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” So let’s explore some of the “facts”, shall we?
In this sordid controversy, one thing that has been determined as fact is that “Taelor’s” profile picture is actually a photo of a Brazilian model. Does this mean Taelor herself doesn’t exist? Or is she just too homely to use her own photo to try to pick up guys on-line, which is apparently her goal? It wouldn’t be the first time someone used a fake profile picture to make themselves look more attractive to the opposite sex. The non-believers state that Taelor’s profile was created right around the time that the first message was sent to Mr. Heward, which “proves” it’s fake. There are a couple different possible explanations for that. For one thing, a quick facebook search for “Taelor Vega” now pulls up multiple hits, many of them using the same fake profile picture in the message seen ‘round the world. Most of these are fake, and have been created since the story went viral. I’m not going to take the time to go through every single one of them to try to figure out which one is “real”….that would just be silly. Even if the “real” Taelor Vega profile was just created yesterday, is it outside the realm of possibility that an Army wife decided to proposition Mr. Heward, but wanted to do so with a bit of anonymity? It seems reasonable, then, that she would create a fake facebook profile, using a fake profile picture, to send her message, does it not?
There are other arguments, of course (girls don’t talk like that, look how quickly the messages are sent back and forth, it’s clear that all of the messages are written in Mr. Heward’s “voice”, etc.), but those two seem to be the most valid. Now that I’ve debunked them, let me say this: I don’t know this Johnny Heward guy from Adam. He could be legit, or he could be the world’s biggest douchebag. I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Without all-out cyber-stalking him, what I have read is that he’s an up-and-coming musician looking for publicity. So is it possible that he made this whole thing up, created the fake profile, sent the messages back and forth to himself, then made the “proof” public, simply to forever become a part of cyberspace legend? Absolutely. And if that’s the case, I have two things to say to Mr. Heward: A.) You, sir, are an ass. And 2.) Nicely done. If this is all some elaborate marketing ploy, he definitely gets an ‘A’ for effort. This is much more creative than those “Like And Share This Photo If You Believe In God” posts that clutter up our newsfeeds on a daily basis. The people that post the quotes and the pictures and the threatening “If you don’t share my page you’ll get hit by a bus when you leave the house today” ridiculousness are social media superstars. They have hundreds of thousands of followers and subscribers. So if that was this Johnny’s goal, at least he accomplished it with some originality.
Whether Taelor’s real or not, whether Johnny’s telling the truth or not, depends on how you choose to look at the situation and what you choose to believe. The real issue is this: Even if Taelor’s not real, there are hundreds of girls out there like her who are. Girls who see a man in uniform, get stars in their eyes, and get married without giving much thought to what it REALLY takes to be a Soldier’s wife. Even worse, there are girls who specifically seek out soldiers with the intent of getting one to marry them and support them so that they can sit at home with no job, no kids, not much of anything going on aside from…well…looking for guys online to keep the other side of the bed warm while their husband is away. We call those vile beings tag-chasers. Likewise, there are soldiers who jump into marriages with girls they have no business marrying, simply because they want someone to come back to after a deployment, someone at home “waiting for them”. Unfortunately, a lot of those girls aren’t the waiting type. And to be fair, a lot of the soldiers aren’t either.
The reality of many military marriages is this: A lot of these couples are just kids, getting married way too young, way too fast, and for all the wrong reasons. Even if their intentions are good in the beginning, the stress of deployments and long separations take their toll, and in many cases, it simply becomes too much to bear, resulting in a whole lot of “Taelor Vegas”, and a whole lot of divorces.
If I’m really going to play devil’s advocate, let’s consider this: Let’s say Taelor is real. Fake name, fake profile pic, but a very real, very desperate girl, propositioning men on-line in an attempt to fill the void left by her Army husband’s absence. It’s entirely possible that she was seeking revenge. Soldiers aren’t exactly known for their fidelity. Even when they’re deployed overseas, a lot of them take to the internet, seeking attention from other women, in part because they’re bored, and in part because they’re paranoid that their wives are cheating on them back at home. So who’s to say that she didn’t find out about an on-line relationship (or relationships) her husband was having, and decide to give him a little taste of his own medicine? It doesn’t make it right, but does it make it a little less wrong? Or at least a little more understandable? And who are we to judge unless we’ve been in her shoes?
So here’s what we’re left with: Taelor Vega may or may not be a real person. Johnny Heward might be a stand-up guy, or he might be a lying, manipulative, marketing genius. Either way, the problem that has had a giant spotlight cast on it by all of this is very, very real. Infidelity is an epidemic in the military community, and it needs to stop. In the words of Mr. Heward himself, “Guys and girls both cheat. The sole purpose of this was to show you that YOU WILL GET CAUGHT. If you’re not happy with your spouse, get a divorce or work it out. Marriage means nothing to anyone anymore and we as individuals need to change that.” Amen, sir. And high five.