A 700-pound man begs for his life -- and becomes an online sensation VIDEO
It’s difficult to watch Robert Gibbs. But it has nothing to do with the fact that he weighs nearly 700 pounds.
In a candid and wrenching plea on the eve of his 23rdbirthday last week, the Livermore, Calif., man did something extraordinary. He braved the mockery and opprobrium of the entire Internet in the calculated hope of “trying to go viral” and turn his life around. In a clip self-explanatorily called “Overweight guy asks for help,” Gibbs explains, “I’m making this video because I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried losing weight on my own. Tried doing everything possible. Been on diets, been hospitalized. Always done what needed to be done at the time and then I’d just gain the weight back.”
Gibbs’ first wish — to go viral — has already come true. Within 24 hours, Gibbs’ video had over 200,000 hits. It’s now surged well past a million. And after Gibbs mentioned Dr. Phil in his video, the show reached out to him and is reportedly paying a visit to his home Wednesday.
The rapidity with which a sincere, life-or-death request for help can be met by the global community is heartening. In addition to Dr. Phil’s response, Gibbs received an offer of assistance from “transformation specialist” Chris Powell this past weekend. Gibbs has also been deluged with advice and supportive response messages, including a deeply heartfelt video from YouTube heavyweight Boogie2988, who tells him, “You’re inspiring me …You’re making a good decision and you’re making a healthy choice … May you get everything you want.”
But can the Internet truly save a man’s life? And is going viral now the go-to solution to a seemingly insurmountable crisis? Gibbs is already declining to be interviewed because of a claimed “exclusivity agreement with ‘Dr. Phil,’” a trust you can only hope the show will treat honorably. He has also opened himself up to the kind of vicious, evil, “fat people deserve to die” trolling upon which YouTube was built. So what happens when Dr. Phil or Chris Powell pack up their TV cameras and the television advice-givers and the social media support system move on to the next thing? You’ve got to wince at the sustained cruelty the man — who says he has diabetes, sores all over his body, is on disability and believes he has depression — is in for.
Maybe Gibbs will fare as well as the “golden voiced” Ted Williams, who after a few setbacks and false starts is now, a year after he was discovered panhandling in Ohio, working steadily and has a roof over his head. Or he may become another victim of an insatiable, novelty-seeking public and the opportunism of daytime talk. But what’s certain is that this isn’t a story about losing weight. It’s about something much bigger. Robert Gibbs did not become morbidly obese overnight. A man who’s been hospitalized in the past needs more than mere diet or encouragement.
Gibbs says in his video, “For everyone that’s going to make fun of me, I really don’t care. This is my last chance, my last hope. I’m really scared that I’m not going to watch my niece and nephew grow up and I’m never going to have a family of my own. I’ve never had a life.” That’s why it’s hard to watch Robert Gibbs, even as millions of us continue to do just that. He’s a fellow human being in pain, asking us to look past his exterior and truly see him. Asking us to do what he says he can’t do for himself: to save him.
More Related Stories
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- You are less beautiful than you think
- "Ghetto" tour lets you gawk at New York's poor
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11