Elle Darby is pushing back.
The 22-year-old British social media star sparked viral backlash this week after it was discovered she sent an email to an Irish hotel owner offering social media exposure in exchange for a free five-night stay. The business offer may have been tone-deaf on her part, but it enraged White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge owner Paul Stenson, who turned it into a symbol of millennial entitlement and posted it on Facebook. Ever since, Darby says she’s been flooded with hate mail from 50-year-old men. And now she’s explaining her side of things on YouTube.
“My issue was with how he reacted,” she says, upset that her email wasn’t just ignored, and that it’s led to “death threats and cancer wishes.”
She says that she won’t speak about the matter publicly again. Not after the viral post from Stenson, which she says revealed her social media handles for all to mock, led to “six hours of abusive messages.” She says that she didn’t seek out this attention and that Stenson started it, even selling merch that mocked her.
She also says that she’s been suffering from anxiety in the wake of the online abuse: “It just swallowed me up.”
Darby even turned off comments on her YouTube videos and certain Instagram posts.
“It’s time people start to take responsibility for what they’re saying,” Darby added. “There is a person on every single end of whatever message you send.”
It’s an all-too-common reminder that the hand that feeds you can just as easily write hurtful Facebook comments. As the internet mocked the notion of asking for free stuff in exchange for social media exposure—a dicey proposition that the internet economy feeds on in business—it did so with impunity: This YouTube “influencer” wanted attention, and so we’re going to laugh at this. But Darby proves that there is such thing as bad exposure, even for social media influencers.
H/T Daily Mail