After getting criticized online, Elle Darby says that “older people” (defined as those over 30) just don’t know “how social media works these days.”Elle Darby/YouTube
As Kidspot reports, Darby is a self-described “beauty, lifestyle, and fitness YouTuber” based in England. While planning a trip to Dublin with her boyfriend, Darby contacted a few hotels ahead of time, asking if they’d be interested in trading a free room for exposure on her YouTube channel.
Unfortunately for Darby, one of the businesses she emailed was the White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge, owned by Paul Stenson.
Stenson is no stranger to the internet. He’s achieved notoriety for banning vegans from his restaurant after a bad online review and announcing that anyone who claimed to be gluten intolerant would need to bring a doctor’s note to dinner at the White Moose.
Stenson was so offended that Darby would write and ask for a free room based on her social media reach, he published her letter (with her name and identifying details concealed) on the White Moose Facebook page. He responded, “It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.” Stenson then went on to pose a few rhetorical questions at Darby:
If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?
Stenson’s businesses have a considerable social media presence (more than 186,000 followers on their Facebook pages alone), but he thought it was out-of-bounds to use social media influence as a way to score a free hotel room. He concluded his message to Darby with some advice on what he feels is the right way to go about it:
In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you.
Stenson was right about it being embarrassing for Darby. In the emotional video below, Darby accused Stenson of “bullying” her and said she’d “cried her eyes out” because of the abuse she’d received following his post:
“These were all 30 years-plus people internet bullying a 22-year-old girl who is trying to do nothing but run her own business and raise awareness of what appeared to be a stunning Dublin hotel.”
Darby said she didn’t see any issues with her decision to email hotels looking for free rooms:
“I feel disgusting having to say this. As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”
She added that the negative responses from older people were an indication that they didn’t understand social media and that they were just trying to prevent “the younger generation from growing up to be a happy individual who does something with their life that they enjoy.”
What followed was an extended dispute between those who agreed that Darby hadn’t done anything wrong…
the blogging community is a force to be reckoned with, if you pick on one of us you pick on all of us. @elledarby I didn’t know who you were and what you did before but I sure do now, and we’re all with you ?x
— emily (@_emthatsme) January 16, 2018
I don’t think I’ve ever hated a company more than that cafe/hotel/shithole that humiliated @elledarby and it appears I’m not alone
— Sophie (@sophiesnotebook) January 16, 2018
I haven’t even got to halfway through this video and I feel the need to get involved on twitter and say how ridiculous this hotel is – we, as bloggers or influencers, all ARE hard working and it’s in no way ‘easy’ to do this job. https://t.co/5CQCcV95eW
— Robyn Taylor (@phasesofrobyn) January 16, 2018
And those who agreed with Stenson that the blogger’s request was entitled and unreasonable.
The controversy exploded on both Darby’s and Stenson’s social media accounts, with bloggers vowing to bombard the White Moose page with negative reviews and reactions— and Stenson fueling the fire.
Stenson responded to the threats, first with an “apology” to all bloggers, in which he urged them to keep negatively reviewing his business:
Following the incident today in which one of your members was clearly hurt and distressed about having to pay for something like everyone else, I would like to make a statement.
I am so sorry that I have waited until now to mobilise you in numbers and I am kicking myself that I didn’t think about you before now. If each one of you is pissed off, and you all have your individual following (no matter how small), there is a fair chance that you will all speak badly to your followers about us which will result in a huge number of people hearing about our brand collectively.
He then followed with a notice informing bloggers that they are all banned from the business and will be ejected from the premises if they show up:
The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name. I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.
The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was “exposed” with “malicious intent” for asking for a freebie. This kind of victimization is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.
Stenson posted one more time to thank bloggers for the continual stream of negative reviews, though he reiterated that they are still banned:
“I’d just like to say a huge thanks to all the bloggers for their hard work over the past two days. The publicity you’ve given us is absolutely priceless.”