S amantha Malson is only facing a misdemeanor harassment charge in Boulder County Court, but the 23-year-old Longmont woman's minor arrest made national headlines this week.

She is accused of getting into a physical altercation with her longtime boyfriend while both were intoxicated because he repeatedly played hip hop artist Macklemore's wildly popular song "Thrift Shop" while singing along -- sometimes to the real lyrics and sometimes with altered lyrics tailored to insult her. The idea that a well-played -- maybe even overplayed -- hit by a popular artist drove a physical confrontation keyed in lots of media on the story.

The tale placed Malson, who works in a nursing home and has aspirations to one day become an R.N., in a national spotlight and in prime position to be mocked. Macklemore himself shared a photo of the Times-Call's police blotter item, which did not use Malson's name, on his Facebook page. It was shared thousands of times and garnered many more thousands of "likes" on the social network.

Macklemore's comment? "My bad."

Although Malson was not named in the Times-Call, The Smoking Gun, Huffington Post, New York Observer and dozens of other media outlets used her name, mugshot and police report in stories in print, on video and online. Those stories detailed an argument that started over drinking alcohol and escalated when the song was played over and over and she asked him to turn it off and stop singing.


She said he "got in her face" and she pushed him away. According to police reports she also choked him. She called police reporting that he hurt her wrist during a physical altercation.

Her boyfriend, who was passed out when officers arrived, told police he did not remember anything and did not want to press charges.

"I was just embarrassed. I was upset," she said. "It just made me want to give up on life. I already have problems with depression and anxiety."

Tales of bizarre arrests are big fodder for some internet sites and news outlets. They draw a lot of attention from readers and that can put more eyes on ads carried by those outlets.

"The media is taking this woman and putting a spin on her," said Kai Larsen, an associate professor at the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business. He teaches a class called Privacy in the Age of Facebook and is an information scientist who studies the ways and means of information flow. "They are not necessarily interested in any charitable work she has done or all the good things she has done in her life."

Malson said the arrest has made her look at herself and what motivates her. She said she needs to examine her use of alcohol and maybe take some sort of anger management class. Her employers had given her a two-week leave to determine how the publicity might affect her work.

"This is giving me time to just mellow out and work on myself and work on these things I have to do for court," she said.

She is worried about how the stories will affect her future employability.

Larsen said she has a valid fear. He said he counseled one CU student who had a minor arrest that made local headlines.

"He experienced being asked about it in a job interview," Larsen said. "At this point it is probably more uncommon than common for employers not to Google you."

The good news for Malson, he said, is that the vast expansion of the Internet means that the stories on her arrest likely will get buried quickly and some companies even specialize in helping those with a Google problem to get search engines to bury unflattering results.

He added that it can be tough for those who find themselves at the center of viral videos or stories to see themselves portrayed in ways they have never seen themselves.

"It is going to have a very profound impact on her self-assessment," Larsen said.

The Internet and news stories like Malson's allow people to distract themselves from their own problems, Larsen said.

"She allows us to forget about our own dirt for a while, our own flaws, and it almost becomes a bullying exercise as society," he said. "She gets to function as our feel-good mechanism of the day and it is horrible."

Malson said she hopes to find positives in the experience. She said her parents tried to make her feel better. 

"My parents tried to lighten the mood and say it is kind of funny because they are only doing it because of the song," she said. "I am just trying to look at it optimistically."

A routine protection order keeps her and her boyfriend from communicating, but she said she believes each could benefit from reassessing their anger issues and relationship during their time apart. She felt he used the song on Saturday night to be verbally abusive, particularly by repeatedly singing it and altering the lyrics to insult her.

"I really do like that song. It is catchy, it is entertaining," she said.

On Saturday, though, it just became overwhelming, she said.