Twitter as Tragicomic Theater: The Baines-Gosslars

By Forever Dog Productions

“The true test of optimism: if a normal person had your life, they’d be miserable. But you’re not. You’re happy.” – Carla Baines-Gosslar, 9/23/13

We discovered the Baines-Gosslars on Twitter in January 2013 when a random search of the hashtag #loudandproud led us to a tense ongoing conversation between the family in which mother Carla was trying to persuade son Doug to “become gay” because, according to her, it would make him “more fun to b around.” Doug’s response– “I’ll be gay after you’re a competent parent”– suggested a long-standing animosity between the two, while Carla’s immediate dismissal of husband Todd’s attempt to join the conversation– “Todd, this conversation is above you”– hinted at even deeper levels of family dysfunction. But why were the Baines-Gosslars parading their problems so openly on social media? It was a question that demanded an answer.

After reading more of the Baines-Gosslars’ tweets, we learned that they had created their Twitter accounts only a few weeks prior at the advice of their family therapist, Dr. Pamela Wong, as a way of working through their problems and learning more about each other. Although there was resistance to the idea at first, particularly from Doug (“Forced to write at least 5 tweets a day to ‘keep my friends and family updated’ about my life. Here’s one: my therapist is a raging bitch;” 1/1/13), the Baines-Gosslars eventually embraced the challenge and developed active lives online.

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Even after moving from Malvern, PA to Delretta, GA in the Summer of 2013 and breaking ties with Dr. Wong, the Baines-Gosslars continued to tweet regularly, until February 2014, when, in the wake of Carla’s stint in rehab for heroin addiction, they stopped tweeting altogether without explanation. The family wasn’t heard from again until late April, when a single tweet from each hashtagged #finaltweet suggested they had officially retired their accounts. Needless to say, we were severely disappointed, having developed a close bond to the family despite having never met them.

The record the Baines-Gosslars left through their tweets remains an indelible portrait of an American family in decline. Over the course of just 14 months, the Baines-Gosslars suffered through depression, financial problems, life-altering injuries, arch nemeses, drug addiction, innumerable public humiliations, and, most of all, each other, as they boldly but hopelessly searched for love, friendship, success, and personal meaning on Twitter. Their Tweets were often misinformed, offensive, antagonistic, and riddled with insecurity, but never boring. And for us, following their accounts became more than just run-of-the-mill social media schadenfreude. It became theater, as absurdly funny as it was deeply tragic.

This site is an anthology of Todd, Carla, and Doug’s most memorable tweets, as well as an attempt to piece together their twisted, sordid family history. It is difficult to say anything with certainty about the Baines-Gosslars because they are prone to exaggeration and contradiction, but below is a rough chronology of significant events in their lives, based on buried clues and direct references contained in their tweets. If you are able to provide any more details about the Baines-Gosslars, including current whereabouts, please contact us so we can update our site. Our attempts to contact them have gone unanswered. 

  • 1973: Carla born
  • 1990s: Carla and Todd may have been addicted to crystal meth at some point during this decade, based on a reference in Doug’s tweet from 1/2/2013: “Mention me on the internet again and I’ll tell Pamela you’re both still meth addicts.”
  • Post-1991: At some point after Doug’s birth, Todd is the victim of a “botched circumcision” at the hands of someone named “Dr. Soop.”
  • 1995: Carla becomes a “born-again virgin” for unspecified reasons.
  • Winter 1996: Todd, Carla, and a man named “Jim Darvis” took a weekend trip to the Poconos Mountains. At some point during the trip, Todd wandered out of their shared cabin to go on a “vision quest,” after which Carla and Jim proceeded to have sexual intercourse. Drug use was probably involved. Jim never returned from the trip. According to Carla, Jim “may or may not have died in a skiing accident.” But according to Todd, Jim was “allegedly consumed by wolves.” Although, Todd also claims that he “saw [Darvish] die.”  Read more by clicking here.
  • 1997: Carla develops an addiction to heroin.
  • 2001: The Baines-Gosslars acquire a family dog. Carla lets Doug choose the dog’s name. He chooses “Glovebox.”
  • Mid-2000s: In an unspecified year in his early teens, Doug had some sort of romantic experience with his cousin Danielle. It may have been emotional, physical, and/or entirely in his head. Doug has been vague in his references to this event.
  • August 2009: Doug starts attending West Chester University of Pennsylvania, a public university located in West Chester, PA. He never fully acclimates to the college culture and often envisions himself as a misunderstood outsider, as evidenced by this tweet from 1/2/2013: “Too many fucking hipsters on campus. West Chester is a breeding ground for worms.”
  • October 2012: Doug has a sexual encounter with a “black girl” who “sucked him off” during Hurricane Sandy in exchange for a flashlight and a box of Wheat Thins. Read more here.
  • Late 2012: Carla takes an online course in French Film Studies from an institution called “Sourbone University,” which she mistakes for the Sorbonne in Paris. Nevertheless, the professor of the course, Glerd Comely, leaves a lasting impression on Carla, and she later refers to him as her “mentor.”
  • January 18 2013: Todd has surgery on “both [of his] hands” for an unspecified reason. This also might be an excuse for a four-day absence from Twitter.
  • January-May 2013: Todd cuts off his thumb with a rusty saw while building a bird house for a robin he discovered in the back yard and named “Destiny.” The infection from the injury spreads throughout his hand. Doctors at Paoli General Hospital are forced to remove Todd’s hand; they also select him as a test subject for a new bionic prosthetic. After months of extensive surgery and rehabilitation, Todd returns to Twitter and dons himself “Iron Hand.”
  • May 2013: Doug graduates from West Chester University, despite the fact that he never declared a major.
  • June 8 2013: Todd and Carla kick Doug out of the house and either board up his old room or turn it into a gallery for birdhouses and poems. Read more here.
  • June 16 2013: Doug starts using drugs and alcohol again on Father’s Day, after being sober for six days.
  • June-July 2013: Inspired by his new bionic prosthetic hand, Todd pursues a second career as a crime fighter, using his Twitter pseudonym “Iron Hand.”After his search for a sidekick goes south, “Iron Hand” engages in a vicious war of words with a criminal mastermind named “Bison Face.”
  • September 2013: Doug gets a job as a “chef’s apprentice” at the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta. Based on information provided in his LinkedIn profile, Doug apparently hopes to run his own restaurant one day, although this ambition is never mentioned on Twitter.
  • November 2013: After attending a performance of “Dr. Faustus” at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, Carla decides to become a playwright. She meets a local actor on Twitter, a mysterious man in his early 40s named Gwynn Laredo (@skullfuckmysoul). Carla auditions him to play the role of “Dream Savior” in her play “Dream Garden,” and also probably has sex with him. But Carla and Gwynn soon have a falling out after she accuses him of trying to steal the spotlight from her, which opens the door for Gwynn and Doug to develop their own bond. Gwynn inspires Doug to write his own play. Doug responds by writing at least one page of a pornographic historical fantasia called “Pinata.” Doug also admits to having romantic/sexual feelings for Gwynn, although he stubbornly insists that Gwynn is a woman and not a man, despite significant evidence to the contrary.
  • November/December 2013: Carla begins using heroin. Doug identifies this as a relapse, a fact which Carla later confirms: “I already used the rainy day H I’ve been saving since 97.”