I have a confession to make: I watch WAY too much YouTube. Ever since the medium started to take off in big ways while I was in college, I found myself enthralled by the range of videos one could find. In the span of a few minutes, a person could see a short horror movie juxtaposed with cats clumsily falling off countertops. And yet, because of the hodgepodge of genres, YouTube has succeeded in allowing people to carve their own niche out of the millions of videos the site hosts.
In 2010, I found myself hooked by many of the promoted personalities. Some of these people I still watch to this day while others have fallen by the wayside due to my waning interest in their continued endeavors. One of these YouTubers is named Tobuscus. In case that name isn’t familiar to you, Tobuscus (a.k.a. Toby Turner) is a content producer that has been on the YouTube scene for many years. He started out producing funny videos from his college days but eventually grew to be a behemoth on the site. At the time of this writing, he sits at three separate channels with massive amounts of subscribers on each. His main channel and video game channel both have close to 7,000,000 subscribers, while his vlog channel has almost 2,000,000 subscribers. Not bad for someone in his late twenties / early thirties.
Watching his videos for the first time was like magic. I remember being enthralled by the way he managed to be smart and silly all at the same time. His main channel entertained me, but it would be his video game channel that sucked me in. I watched him play through many of my favorite games, oftentimes excited to see what he would think of the big “set piece moments” that I knew were coming. I enjoyed every minute I spent with him and would ravenously consume each and every subsequent video. He had a very loyal viewer in me for many years, but something eventually changed for both of us.
Not only did I find myself without as much free time as I used to have, but Toby slowly started to change his on-camera personality. Over time, the smart and silly balance changed to the more common trope of “get a webcam and play scary games so you can scream loud and get a younger audience to subscribe to you.” There isn’t anything wrong with this type of content, but it didn’t fit the Toby I knew and loved. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t dictate how Toby would proceed with his brand, and he changed anyways. It just goes to show what I know, as he has found himself to be a massive media personality. He even had his own TV show on Cartoon Network for a while. Still, despite my disappointment, I was glad Toby found success even if his humor didn’t entertain me as much as it used to. I wished him well and stayed subscribed to him, but I very rarely watched his content. That trend continued for many years.
Until earlier in the week. On Monday, I learned that Toby had been accused of rape, drug abuse, and physical / emotional abuse by a former girlfriend. Intrigued and horrified, I did a little research. I will spare you all the details from the various sources, but suffice it to say, Toby allegedly did all of those things to various women in his personal life. Even as I type that sentence, it is very surprising to me. Here is a man who I spent years of my life supporting via video views and Likes only to find that he was allegedly doing terrible things behind the scenes. If true, this man acted like nothing short of a monster.
Toby came out with a very brief response video calling the claims “false.” And it is true that there have been cases of “victims” making false rape claims, though they are the vast minority. That particularly upsets me when I hear about it because of how it hurts the real victims of rape. It is a shame that happens, but that is a topic for another day. Additionally, another woman named JaclynGlenn on YouTube has come out to set the record straight about how she was treated by Toby, painting him in a slightly different light.
I do not know Toby personally, nor will I probably ever meet the man. It is possible that his accusers are lying; it is possible that they are telling the truth. The latter point gets even more credibility from a response video by a friend and former business partner of Toby who claims that Toby is very unstable. While there is no “smoking gun,” the case for Toby being an abuser is made a little stronger. I am filled with disappointment, though that word is not nearly strong enough. Even if the rape allegations are false, Toby still has the other accusations to deal with, including drug abuse, sexual assault, and physical / emotional abuse.
The point of this blog entry isn’t to damn Toby, as I am not a court of law. The allegations will be handled by the parties involved; these are just my thoughts. However, if this story is true, I wanted to highlight this story as a piece that showcases just how people can suffer in silence. In the case of Toby’s ex (a.k.a. April), she kept the awful interactions with Toby to herself, continuing to go back despite every fiber of her being telling her not to. If you have ever studied the cycle of violence or worked with victims of domestic violence like I have, you can probably understand where she was coming from. In the case of Toby, he allegedly abused others as well as himself through the use of drugs. That type of addiction is not easy to kick, and it takes an immense amount of effort to hide it, especially from the many eyes of his subscribers.
If you or someone you know are / went through a situation similar to this tragic tale, I highly encourage you to reach out to someone who wants to help. I hope that person you reach out to is someone professionally trained (i.e. counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.). However, just talking with someone you feel close to is an amazing first step. Carrying a heavy weight that can push you towards further self-destruction or even suicide isn’t the way to go. Reaching out to loved ones, professionals, or even law enforcement may assist you on your healing journey in ways that you didn’t think possible.
I encourage you to help yourself by thinking about ending the silence and returning your power to you. The silence isn’t so deafening once you find your voice.
Gregory T. Obert