A married couple demonstrated how they "love surge" one another in a viral TikTok last month.
Viewers cringed, but the backlash soon devolved into wishes of infidelity, sexual assault, and suicide.
Wife Lilianna Wilde told Insider she "embraces the cringe" but felt like she was "getting bullied for just existing."
On August 15, the TikToker and budding musician Lilianna Wilde posed viewers a question: "Wanna see the cringiest, most couple-y thing ever?"
Within weeks, Wilde, 34, and her husband of five years, Sean Kolar, had gone mega-viral for demonstrating a "love surge" — a term they've given to an affectionate gesture in their relationship whereby one of their bodies starts to vibrate uncontainably with love. Wilde demonstrated Kolar coming into an embrace to shake together before letting go in a kind of emotional explosion.
Viewers were flummoxed. Many viscerally cringed, with memes and TikTok stitches ribbing the couple in a way Wilde thought was "incredibly funny," she told Insider.
But then, the backlash unexpectedly veered into "cruel" and "vicious" wishes of tragedy on their relationship. Wilde returned to TikTok on Wednesday, telling viewers she'd "hit a wall" from all of the hate.
"I can take a joke and I can laugh at myself," a teary-eyed Wilde said in the video that's been viewed 5.7 million times. "But then some of the comments got really, really mean."
The TikToker said she's received messages from strangers wishing the two infidelity, domestic violence, and even death in their relationship.
"It suddenly just crossed a line from a really funny internet meme where I can joke and laugh at myself to this place where people wanted genuine harm," she told Insider.
Wilde and Kolar are both Los Angeles-based musicians who post self-admittedly sappy TikTok content about their marriage. And the love surge video didn't stray far from their typical fare. Wilde has previously described "making a pizza" on Kolar's back as a kind of bedtime massage or once filmed herself weeping after realizing she would never get to meet him as a baby.
Wilde told Insider her videos aren't rage-bait, but come from a very genuine place.
"If you waste your time being tough and cool all of the time, then you're sort of missing out on some very sweet moments," she said. "So, for me, I embrace the cringe."
She added that the love surge was partially inspired by the way that her father used to hug her and her siblings growing up in Toronto when he came home from work as a tow truck driver, having seen harrowing accidents on the job.
"He called it a love squeeze," she said. "And then I think I just kind of carried that into my life with Sean. I've never done that with any other partner."
'I felt like a middle schooler again, getting bullied for just existing'
Wilde told Insider she was initially able to laugh off some of the love surge backlash.
"I miss the person i was 10 seconds ago," one commenter quipped about seeing their initial video. "Definitely NOT a me n who moment," another commenter snarked, referring to the common saying about relationship goals.
But suddenly, when the negative comments devolved into harassment and dark wishes, the TikToker felt like she was being viciously bullied.
"I felt like a middle schooler again, getting bullied for just existing – and it felt so unwarranted," Wilde said. She added she's been away from Kolar tending to family in Toronto, which has made it all the more grueling to endure.
"He was so supportive and sweet and just can't wait for me to get back to LA so he can give me a love surge," she said.
To be fair, Wilde said she's also received a fair amount of support — especially on her most recent video.
"People can be really mean and sometimes it's hard to just ignore them," one commenter wrote. "Love surge is super cringe but it's special. Don't let them take that."
Wilde told Insider she isn't going to let the viral firestorm stop her from posting in the future.
"As much as I didn't expect all of the cruelty from the original video, I did not expect that much kindness from this most recent video," she said. "I get so much joy out of creating content with my husband and creating content for myself that I just want to keep doing what I'm doing."
Read the original article on Insider