After a bout of online bullying, a Durham woman walks away with a new Moog synthesizer

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After taking 2013 off, Moogfest is back and clammering to be at the top of your social media news feed. Their big idea to make that happen? The Moogfest Amplification Society, which, during February, turned would-be fans into marketing minions who posted, tweeted, shared and instagrammed for a chance to be atop the contest’s leader board for festival tickets or a Moog Sub Phatty, the company’s high-end analog synthesizer. Durham’s Sarah Eldred ended the contest with 335,115 points, a score that nearly doubled that of the second-place finisher.

“I do social media for my job at a non-profit, so I thought I should at least give it a try,” says Eldred, who has been to Moogfest twice. “Places 2–11 won free tickets, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can make it to 11th place.’ I’m very competitive, so when I got into the top five, I went all in.”

Eldred made a daily show of force, posting to her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to reach out to friends for support. Digital marketing at its best, right?

Well, not quite: Eldred caught a big jump in her numbers only after another competitor and his friends made several sexist remarks about her on his public Facebook profile. Exchanges on his page suggested she was “showing tits on Twitter” for points or had embedded her festival recruitment link into an ad for porn.

“I honestly felt so grossed out by it and ashamed that I wanted to just quietly quit. And then I had this moment where I realized, ‘Oh my god, this is what sexism—specifically online sexism—looks like, saying things about women in an attempt to make them shut up. So, I went the opposite route,” she says.

Her numbers surged, as did the online muckraking. Rumors that she had programmed spambots, hired a PR firm and worked was a con for Moog followed. But Eldred’s lead only grew.

“The whole thing really restored my faith that—even though the Internet is often a scary, mean place for everyone, especially women—there are actual human beings in the world and in my life who work against that behavior.”

And if that’s not enough, she’ll have a new synthesizer and a long weekend of music waiting for her in April.

“There’s something really special and cool to me about all things Moog,” she says,. “It’s sort of a perfect festival.”
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Moogfest is April 23-27th in Asheville, NC. Visit Moogfest.com for more information. 

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