“It felt like every wall came towards me and I couldn’t get out,” says Usha Vandermaelen, a 19-year-old student from Belgium, who suffered a panic attack while following the hashtag and watching Marina’s videos.
“I had to pause the videos to keep myself together and not burst out crying. I had to ask my mother to calm me down, it lasted a few hours.”
Vandermaelen has been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and says she suffers attacks if “something huge happens like this” or if one of her idols dies. She says that for the two days that #SaveMarinaJoyce trended, she only had three-and-a-half hours’ sleep.
“It made me feel very anxious as I felt like I had to do something to make sure the girl was safe. The more I believed there was a scary figure abusing her, the more I got anxious.”
She’s 19 years old. What’s she going to be like when she’s 24? Who would ever want to employ her?
After the YouTuber posted a video claiming the whole debacle was a “publicity stunt by [her] viewers, not by me”, social media users dramatically turned on her. She too became the victim of a witch hunt, as Twitter rapidly decided to change tack and #BoycottMarinaJoyce. “Hope u lose all ur followers u ugly bimbo,” tweeted one user, who claimed she had kept him up all night worrying. The tide had turned direction, but the hysteria remained.
What a society we’re building…