Drama Kills

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by Unknown Author


You might call this a confession, but it’s not. Not really because I’ve no intention of identifying myself or leaving a trail that some overzealous investigator can follow to me. It’s also possible that you’re reading this because I am no longer among the living. Who knows? Who cares?

Getting to the point, I’m a YouTuber. Some would consider me a veteran YouTuber. I’m among the few thousand creators who earn enough money for the IRS to pay attention. I can’t complain. I suppose you’ll complain if I make this post entirely about how much money I make. What it’s really about is how I managed to cause the death of a fellow YouTuber.

If you are a fan of this person, you definitely know about her death. It didn’t make front-page news, so most regular people aren’t even aware of it. She was streaming live right before it happened. Instead of using her channel name or real name, I’ll refer to her as Scarlet.

The first thing you’re probably saying is that this is a load of bullshit. If somebody was murdered on a live feed, it would have made international news. I never said she was murdered while the stream was live. It happened after, and her death was not ruled a homicide. If they eventually find out about my involvement, they will also find out that I may have had accomplices, possibly thousands.

In the early days of YouTube, it paid to be edgy. Literally. It still does now, but it’s more of a double-edged sword. I must admit that I partook in such activities, but I didn’t see my subscribers grow (in number, not weight) until I started collaborating with larger channels. Scarlet launched her channel around the time I started mine. I never had the opportunity to collaborate with her, but I did find myself using her methods as a guide. Something about her drew people in, and it translated to her online presence quite well.

It was this quality that also attracted haters to her like flies on shit. To the amazement of most, she didn’t appear to be fazed by them. As a matter of fact, it was almost like Scarlet thrived on the hate. She became good at responding to comments with an occasional zinger that would go viral. The hater would eventually end up thanking her and becoming friends because of the resulting traffic to their channel. Throw that lemon at them and see if they can turn it into… whatever.

As the drama channels started becoming more popular, it turned into a competition to see which one could get Scarlet worked up enough to flame them. Sometimes this tactic would backfire. Every now and then, a drama channel would take things a little too far, forgetting that she had an army of ravenous fans. The onslaught was sometimes painful to watch. Eventually, Scarlet would step in. We assumed the hater had begged her for mercy, at which time she’d admonish her fans for doing the very thing they had criticized. She had total control of her mob, except for that one time.

Scarlet committed the cardinal sin of defending the rights of some of her haters to say things even if they were highly offensive. She followed this up by reminding people of the things she would say during her edgier phase. All of her old videos were still available on an archive channel. Some existed as captured Vines that loyal fans posted after the fall of that platform. It was at this time that some of her more vocal followers turned against her. Many were former haters turned friends turned haters again. It wasn’t that there were a lot of them. It was how frequently they posted memes and videos against her. Her legacy enemies used this as an opportunity to pile on. They had effectively painted a scarlet letter on her forehead. While a majority of her fans remained on her side, there weren’t enough of them willing to face the tidal wave on her behalf.

Sadly, I became a part of that tidal wave. As a matter of fact, it was at this time that I gained the bulk of the fans that would help sustain my channel. I even created a Patreon account. It didn’t occur to me what I was really profiting off of. True to form, Scarlet took the online hate as well as the physical hatred like a champ. Yes, some idiots vandalized her house. Their license plate was visible on several cameras in her neighborhood.

She started live-streaming a lot more around this time. I have to admit, it was entertaining to see her take down trolls in real-time. They could only salivate when she told them she’d be attending Vidcon that year to promote her new book. She rarely made public appearances, so the announcement alone further boosted her brand. She promised that she would address the controversy at the event. This would ensure attendance by some of the worst of her haters. That room would contain the most volatile mixture in all of Vidcon. I wasn’t going to miss it.

When the time came, I drove there with a few friends. One of them was a fellow YouTuber with a smaller following than mine who I encouraged to come along. When we arrived, I noticed it wasn’t much different from the only other one I attended a couple of years prior. Being one of the older YouTubers, I wasn’t starstruck like so many of the Gen Zers who could barely contain themselves. I felt almost out of place despite meeting many creators who were older than me.

While getting ready for Scarlet’s event, my heart was pounding. You would think that I was going to be speaking. My friend and I arrived early with our special passes. Partners with over 250k subscribers could sit in a reserved section away from the lowly fans. Security was very tight since this was only a year after Christina Grimmie was killed. May she rest in peace.

The energy in that room was something otherworldly. Everyone knew Scarlet had people there who hated her or at least claimed to hate her. But there was no way to tell by looking at the crowd. I felt almost embarrassed for being just as excited as the rest of the audience.

Although I’m pretty sure everyone knew the tension building was orchestrated, it didn’t take away from the excitement. The room was a convention hall, but the roar could have matched a sports arena when she entered that stage. I’m not gonna lie. I screamed along with everyone else.

Once the noise died down, Scarlet went right into it. When I say right into it, I mean she didn’t ride the high note of her entry into exciting crowd-pleasing rhetoric. She went directly into addressing the controversial remarks. No one was sure how to react. I hate this cliché, but you literally could have heard a pin drop. Somebody in the center of the room coughed one too many times and drew glares from half the crowd.

It was at this moment that I understood why Scarlet was as famous as she was. There’s something some people notice when they meet certain YouTube creators face-to-face. They come off as less exciting than they appear in their videos. That’s because they use jump cuts to create this rapid-fire dialogue. People who meet them in person expect the same energy before realizing they sound like any other person when they talk. Scarlet didn’t use jump cuts in any of her videos. It’s like they were watching uncut live feeds filled with the mistakes, the ramblings, and the pauses when she’s thinking of the right thing to say. They also got the offensive comments when not much thought went into what she was saying.

Her stage performance could have been filmed and posted directly to her channel. It sounded like she always sounds. Unrehearsed. Uncut. It’s like she was having a one-on-one conversation with a friend who happened to be you. Her fans ate it up.

I can’t call it an apology because it wasn’t. Not even close. Her dressing down of the controversy only lasted about twenty minutes, but it was masterful. By the time she finished, I was 100% sure she won over every hater and former fan in that room. Without her saying it directly, everyone realized that, at some point in their lives, they had been guilty of transgressions similar to what they accused her of. The difference is that most people don’t speak to an audience of millions every week.

The question is, what do you do when you’re called on your shit? Do you continue creating more? Do you make a change? Do you remove yourself from the public eye? Forever? After that first twenty minutes, it was like somebody cut a taut bungee cord. We sat for the next hour mesmerized by Scarlet’s channel in real life. She engaged with the audience, and they engaged with her in a way that her online audience never could.

At the end, she did a book signing. The line was extra long, but my friend and I got in it. What passed the time was that Scarlet’s fans had a chance to stand in line with some of their other favorite creators. I’m not big enough to be recognized in the real world, but here, I felt like a mini star. I also got a few glares from some of Scarlet’s fans, who probably didn’t like my critiques of her.

When I finally got to the table, my palms were completely clammy. I kept them in my pockets and didn’t even shake her hand. I told her that I was one of her critics but still wanted to meet her. She said she didn’t recognize me at all. But she invited me to attend a round table with some YouTube executives later that evening. I could have fainted. Her manager set me up with a single pass with my name etched on it. I would have to attend alone.

At this point, things got a little weird. It’s not for the reasons you might think. My friend dropped me off at the hotel where the meeting would take place. I found myself in the lobby with eleven other YouTubers. I recognized most of them as creators with 10 million or more subscribers. Why was I invited? I barely had 300k. This time my heart was pounding for a different reason. I was convinced I was being set up, but slinking away from an invite alongside people with a combined audience of over 100 million was probably not a good idea.

They mostly talked among each other. I didn’t have much to say, but a few of them were kind enough to pull me into the conversation. After a while, someone came downstairs to confirm that we all had passes. We were taken up to a conference room on the sixth floor where Scarlet and three executives were already sitting. Actually, I wouldn’t call them executives. They were more like mid-level marketing managers and a public relations type person. The discussion was pretty boring, but I sensed that I was sitting in on something that I wasn’t meant to witness. It was like I was some kind of impostor, but everyone in the room knew exactly who and what I was. Needless to say, I didn’t contribute much to the conversation.

When the meeting was over, Scarlet invited us to dinner. Although nervous, I said, “Hell yeah!” Scarlet kept checking on me to make sure I was OK. I was starting to have my doubts about her not recognizing me. It wasn’t an arrogance thing. Thousands of her fans knew who I was from the one video I had that went viral. Something was up.

We got to the restaurant, and they already had tables joined together for us in the back. Scarlet ended up sitting next to me. I was such a wreck, I couldn’t eat. I just kept taking sips of water every few seconds. My mouth was still dry, with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was just waiting for the barrage of accusations and insults. That never came. Everyone was so nice and welcoming to me. My paranoia switched to thinking everyone was putting on a show to influence me to post about my wonderful time with Scarlet. Damn influencers! A few of them even took pics of us together. I started getting some weird religious vibes of twelve disciples with me as the Judas.

It was refreshing to see the off-screen personalities of these creators. I kept looking for the off-screen version of Scarlet, but I never saw it. It wasn’t there. Even I had never been able to pull that off. And I’m considered one of the “real” ones. She was such a larger-than-life person that I forgot that she was still a regular person like all of us. She never brought up anything about haters or the drama. It was like once she had finished talking about it on stage, she was done and had moved on.

As we talked more and more, the conversation shifted toward ghost stories and paranormal experiences. Several people told us stories that didn’t seem all that scary to me. Mind you, I have a dark personality and have an obsession with the occult, so it would take a lot to do that. Scarlet managed to creep me out more than all of the others combined.

She told a story that I won’t recite in its entirety here for the very reason why her story creeped me out. Scarlet was convinced that some kind of presence had been following her around for the previous month. She started waking up in the middle of the night feeling like something was in the room with her. There were a few jokes and nervous laughs around the table. But when she told everyone that she was now seeing things, silence fell across everyone. It’s something when a person you admire starts sounding crazy.

Scarlet told us about an incident that scared her a few nights prior. She was driving back from an event on a two-lane road with a very steep embankment and no railing. The radio was off, and her phone was dead. She heard a distinct whisper over her shoulder. When she looked in her rearview mirror, she saw the shape of someone sitting behind her. The face was hidden in shadows. She sharply swerved the car as she looked over her shoulder. Thankfully she slammed on her brakes just at the right time. She was within inches of sending her Tesla down a sixty-foot drop.

She told us that she felt the presence of something in that car. She got out and checked the back seat to make sure no one was pranking her. No one was there. I wished I could read the thoughts of everyone at that very quiet table. As much as she shared on her channel, she hadn’t mentioned anything about this. She was clearly unnerved and truly believed something was in that car. Instead of getting back in, she flagged somebody down to call a friend to pick her up. Was she having a psychotic breakdown?

One other person and I rode back to the hotel with Scarlet. She told us that she wouldn’t mind if we shared her story. The only stipulation was that we didn’t use her name or channel name. That was an odd request, but I am honoring it in this post. Two days later, Scarlet was dead.

Those who know about her death also are aware of the infamous live stream. During the stream, the shadow of someone could be seen behind her, but it didn’t quite look like a shadow. It looked like a ghost. It gradually made its appearance a few seconds before the end of the stream. Most viewers just figured someone was in the room with her. Almost an hour later, her boyfriend found her dead, sitting in the chair where she was streaming. He called 911 immediately before trying to perform CPR on her. Although her live stream had ended, the camera was still recording until the paramedics arrived. As far as he knew, no one else had been in the house.

The investigators made a copy of her recording. Scarlet’s boyfriend reluctantly shared it with her YouTube friends who had attended that dinner with me. He made them swear not to post a copy online for obvious reasons. On the video, something shows up far more clearly than it did during the live stream. An apparition is standing behind her while she is tidying up her desk. Then she begins staring off into space for about two minutes before struggling to breathe. Her hands go to her throat like she’s trying to remove something.

I didn’t want anything to do with the video, but one of the people from the dinner sent me a copy and told me I had to watch it. He gave me the settings to adjust my screen when the apparition appeared. I did as instructed. It showed up crystal clear. The thing standing behind her when she died had a face that I recognized. The face was my face. I just knew the FBI would be calling me any day. When I called Scarlet’s friend back, he asked me what I saw. I was very hesitant just in case I was being implicated in something. He told me that he unquestionably saw his own face.

Apparently, several people who had seen it saw themselves, while others only saw vague, blurry features. We didn’t know what to make of it. At some point, we’re going to post the video. We’ll exclude the part where she dies out of respect for her family. No one knows what that thing was or why it started following her, but we have our ideas. The local police ruled her cause of death as unknown but were leaning towards natural causes. Her family never released a cause, and people outside of her fanbase scarcely heard about her passing. She was only YouTube famous.

As sad and solemn as this should be, there are plenty of hateful people expressing sentiments like “rot in peace” or that she “choked on her own toxic personality.” Although I still disagree with some things she has said over the years, I never hated her. I could never express glee for her passing. Whatever was in her room that night frightened her to death. It also frightens me.


Copyright 2021 Darrell Winfrey

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