Some people think that success is the best revenge; the real kick in the teeth for your enemies, they argue, is your “glow up,” your unbothered ascension to a higher plane of being where you’re not focused on pettiness because you’re too focused on doing you. But those people have clearly never paid a stranger $5 to comment “yikes” under their ex’s selfie, because obviously that feels way better.
Isaiah, a 32-year-old songwriter who lives in LA and the commenting stranger in question, was devastated when he shattered his cell phone. “Naturally, it sent me into an existential crisis,” he joked in an Instagram DM to VICE. “I can’t get an Uber, I can’t update my stories or anything, I am basically dead.” In order to raise money for a new one, he made the people of Twitter an offer that, apparently, over 100 people couldn’t refuse: He promised to comment “yikes” on a select photo of someone’s ex lover for a $5 fee.
“People are selling feet pics on Twitter,” Isaiah said. “I was like - I’ll give you a yikes for five bucks. I thought it was funny but I was actually serious. Turns out, other people were serious about it too.”
Technically, Isaiah is violating Instagram’s terms of service, which prohibits bullying comments. But in the two days he’s had to work through the requests, he’s avoided getting banned by using two different accounts to do his commenting and declining requests to “body shame/insult” exes in a more targeted way. Fiverr even declined to list the offer as a gig on its app. But he’s apparently raised enough money through Twitter reach alone that the “sexy” new iPhone is within his grasp.
Is it mean? Of course. “Some are calling it a bully service but I feel I am offering a sense of closure,” he said. But, though petty, the outreach has actually paid dividends: “Three people have told me their ex messaged them in the spirit of amends after I yikes’d their pic—not knowing where the yikes came from, of course.”
And although this is his only Venmo scheme in the works (for now), Isaiah said he feels his viral stunt is in line with the spirit of the gig economy that we’re all participating in, one way or another. “Every single person I know has side hustles,” he said. “Even one of my best friends who has a PhD. He makes porn websites on the side. Millennials and Gen Z stay evolving.”
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Katie Way on Twitter .