Last Tuesday, the YouTube world turned upside down when the The White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge in Dublin, Ireland posted a screenshot of an email they'd received from Elle Darby, a British YouTuber. Darby had proposed a business deal: five nights of free stay in exchange for publicity on her social media channels. At the time of writing, Darby’s YouTube channel has over 97,000 subscribers and just under 91,000 followers on Instagram. The café and lodge owner, Paul Stenson, was wildly against Darby’s proposition and publicly called her out in a now-deleted viral Facebook post.
Stenson took issue with Darby’s proposal, arguing that a feature in a video does nothing to pay the staff, housekeepers, receptionists, light bills, heating bills, water bills, etc. for her stay. Stenson isn’t entirely wrong. With that said, though, plenty of hotels invite celebrities and people with large social media followings to stay in establishments for free in exchange for publicity; it tends to cost less than a traditional ad campaign and reach more viewers, resulting in more business and therefore more money to pay said bills, at least in theory.
The ensuing back and forth between the hotel and the vlogger resulted in the hotel instituting a ban on all bloggers, calling them a “much more lucrative group of people to piss off than the vegans and the gluten intolerant combined.” Stenson has also been called out for making fun of Brazilians in the past, particularly of their accents in English (full disclosure: I am Brazilian, and I’d like to see hear him try to speak Portuguese.)
OFFICIAL APOLOGY TO BLOGGERS. pic.twitter.com/KYjDPXCZtX— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 16, 2018
But the situation blew up way beyond a simple debate over modern marketing strategies. Stenson’s Facebook post led an angry mob of Internet trolls straight to Darby’s social media feeds, where she claims she received relentless threats, including death and cancer threats. The Café and Lodge created merchandise mocking the situation and shared an invoice they plan to send Darby. Darby has now spoken out a second and final time in an attempt to clear up her side of the story and warn Internet users who feel the need to troll other people online.
I’m posting out this invoice today... pic.twitter.com/FYFONTWoOd— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 20, 2018
Firstly, she explains that Stenson could have simply rejected her offer; his disproportionate reaction was the bit that left her shocked. "Any business owner is more than entitled to refuse a business proposal," said Darby. "My issue was not with the idea that he had 'refused my stay'; my issue was with how he reacted. A very simple way to go about it would have just been a no or for the email to be ignored instead of me having death threats and cancer wishes."
She said trolls started sending her death threats and messages wishing for her children to get cancer and that she was called “every name under the sun, words I didn’t even know existed.” The situation took a physical toll on her, and she ended up at the doctor’s office with serious anxiety.
"I don't think this situation should ever have escalated into what it has escalated into," she said.
But she did have an important message for her trolls and, by extension, all people who spend time being nasty to others online.
“It’s time people start to take responsibility for what they’re saying on a screen,” Darby said. “There is a person on every single end of whatever message you send.”
“I wish nothing but the best for you, I hope you find happiness,” Darby added. “I hope whatever situation you’re going through at the moment to make you feel like it will help you feel better to leave horrible comments on somebody else’s social media. Get better. You must be going through something really awful right now if that is what makes you feel good.”
Stenson did say he does not “condone” the comments Darby was receiving and added that it was “time people laid off her.”
Some of the comments the girl (who I have never once named) is getting on her Insta are horrible. I don’t condone these comments and I think it’s time people laid off her. Insult me all you like, but leave the girl alone. She fucked up. She’s learnt her lesson. The end.— Paul Stenson (@PaulVStenson) January 22, 2018