The internet has always been captivated by a good mystery. Whether it's uncovering the truth behind Youtube's first (and fake) viral vlogger Lonelygirl15 or figuring out what color that damn dress actually was, the sleuths on the web will find out what's what.
The most recent mystery involved fashion vlogger Marina Joyce. Joyce has been posting makeup and hair tutorials, as well as humorous and personal vlogs, on Youtube for four years. Her latest video, a sponsored post called 'Date Outfit Ideas,' made many of her viewers question how in control she was of her content. They wondered how in control Marina Joyce was of her life.
2. Is She Okay?
Upon viewing this video, many of Joyce's subscribers began to wonder if the fashion vlogger was trying to tell her viewers something. Compared to the videos she made years earlier, she seemed to now have trouble speaking in a normal cadence, was blinking erratically, and seemed like she was under duress. She seemed to show serious bruising on the backs of her arms and many believed she whispered "save me" to her viewers.
Collectively her viewers insisted that something was wrong. They believed there something awful was happening to Joyce, and it was up to them to figure it out. They began scouring all of her posts across social media, collecting clues and trying to interpret them.
The conclusions they came to ranged from Marina Joyce being drugged, abused, and forced to continue her vlog by her boyfriend to Marina Joyce being kidnapped and indoctrinated by ISIS, who were using her to lure people to a meeting point.
As more people shared the video with their theories, more people got involved in the mystery. Soon, #savemarinajoyce began trending on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Users on Twitter would deconstruct all of her tweets, trying to find hidden meaning. Comments on her Youtube videos from four years ago would analyze her every move to see how drastically different her behavior compares to her current posts.
Marina Joyce insisted she was fine, and did two live streams to answer questions from her fans. "By the way, guys, thank you for #SavingMarina, I actually thought that was really sweet, but I wanna let you guys know that I'm doing OK, I'm feeling fine, I'm feeling really good in myself, and I'm [a] really happy person, so I just wanna let you know that I'm really happy, I'm [in] a really good state in [sic] mind and I really love you. So yeah!"
Fans weren't happy to hear that nothing was wrong with Marina Joyce. The flustered teen said during one of her live broadcasts "this was a publicity stunt by my viewers; not by me." Joyce meant that all of the concern was not done by anything she did, but by her fans jumping to conclusions about her well-being. Her viewers mistook this to mean that it was all a orchestrated stunt and that they were directly lied to. The campaign of concern soon turned into a campaign of hate.
How did the concern for a seemingly random teen girl on Youtube blow up so quickly? Unlike Hollywood celebrities or A-list musicians, Youtube stars gain their fame by putting their private lives online for the world to see. They are expected to give their audiences intimate access to all parts of their lives, by "keeping it real." Marina Joyce's viewers felt that they were entitled to know why her arms had bruises on them, and why her behavior seemed different than it usually does. Joyce said her behavior was the result of a personal spiritual awakening after she found Christianity, and that her bruises were a result of a simple tumble she had when she was hiking one day. Because she hadn't revealed personal details up front like her religion and other meaningless minutiae from her day, the internet jumped to conclusions.
"I don’t know how to tell that story, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea for my YouTube channel to tell what happened."
For the internet audience, if the answer isn't satisfying enough, then something must be wrong. Marina Joyce must not be telling the whole story.
The internet has gone too far in trying to solve a mystery before. In 2013, the FBI asked for the public's help in getting information about the Boston Bombing that killed 3 people at the Boston marathon. A subreddit was created whose sole purpose was to find not only new information about the attack, but to find the bombers themselves. The result was multiple false accusations and the destruction of the reputation for at least one family whose son was missing at the time of the attack (he was later found dead after the actual suspects had been identified by the FBI).
A man in Melbourne, Australia one day took a selfie in front of a Star Wars poster. He said to some kids who were nearby “I’ll only be a second, I’m taking a selfie to send to my kids.” One of the children's parents heard that the man had said "Hey kids" and started taking pictures, which was enough for her to accuse him of being a pedophile. She snapped a picture of him with the caption "Ok people, take a look at this creep" and posted her story to Facebook. Commenters figured out his identity, sent him death threats, and even yelled at him in the streets. He had to go through a police interrogation and search to clear his name, legally.
The abuse doesn't end with him either. The woman who shared the post apologized and quickly deleted the picture when the truth came out. She understood her grave mistake and did what she could to rectify it and accept full responsibility. The people that angrily supported her claims soon put their focus on her. They harassed her on all of her social media and then went after her children. She received multiple death threats, one in person.
Marina Joyce is not the first person to rise to fame on the internet and subsequently experience the backlash from it. However, there is no indication in any of her videos that the young vlogger was seeking this kind of attention or asking for help. She was a person who shared a very intimate view of her life with her audience from the age of 15. At what point did her audience decide she owed them more than makeup tutorials and fashion tips? Her viewers decided that because she wasn't forthcoming about every small detail of her life, it was up to them to get it from her. One of the theories that floated around in the wake of #savemarinajoyce was that the teenager was experiencing some emotional difficulties and mental issues. So, does insisting that something must be wrong with her to the point that ISIS and drug abuse accusations come into play even help her at all? More importantly, is it really up to her audience to fix these things for her? At this point, it's not likely we'll ever really know what is going on with Marina Joyce. Not that we ever deserved to.