So far my sleuthing has required the Danish skills of my roommate’s Icelandic friend, the Morse-code skills of a friend’s ex-Navy father, and a webcam.
Starting at the end of March, new poster GreenTeaGirlie put up an increasingly cryptic series of YouTube videos dropping clues to a mysterious viral video game. The first puzzle (video embedded below) was to figure out her favorite colors from a string of numbers – 733944832583. Turns out if you punch these digits into your cell phone using the T9 type system, you spell “red white blue.” How patriotic.
Perhaps GreenTeaGirlie is playing out an interactive-video version of Clue, perhaps she will end up being a corporate green tea shill, or maybe it’s some viral school project. Enter an intrepid blogger (me + coffee) with some video editing experience and a webcam. I posted a video of my own (embedded after the jump) trying to piece together the real story behind GreenTeaGirlie, adding it to the responses to her latest video so it would be part of the conversation. As the comments and YouTube messages started pouring in, the plot only thickened.
Ever since LonelyGirl15 was exposed as the actress Jessica Rose, the YouTube community has had a destructive rash of self-serving exposés and counter-exposés as jealous YouTubers squabble for bragging rights, subscribers, and most importantly video views.
GreenTeaGirlie is the latest. With swooping, well-plucked eyebrows akin to Ms. Rose’s, “Kallie,” as she identified herself, came on to the scene with a content-free ten-second video announcing the end of her YouTube virginity. GreenTeaGirlie’s “I’m new” post shot into the coveted “most viewed” section of YouTube, racking up thousands of views with no subscribers.
This roused more than a few suspicious YouTubers, and it was quickly discovered that the first 10,000 views were accrued through embedded copies of the video on bogus MySpace pages. Someone was gaming the system with an auto-refresh program to boost GreenTeaGirlie into the most viewed section, where she has since gained an additional 300,000-plus views.
In reaction to her violation of the sacred rules of YouTube, the site’s heavyweights came out to take GreenTeaGirlie down. The likes of the chipmunk-voiced YTWatchdog, the misogynistic InsultAlien, and the self-proclaimed most banned YouTuber Trevor Reiger, as well as dozens of others, posted videos denouncing GreenTeaGirlie and claiming to expose her as a fake, among many other non-G-rated names.
While the White House would like you to believe it’s possible to totally delete four years of e-mails, we all know that nothing is ever gone once it’s online. I combed through videos, tracked websites, and scoured page sources. My findings were a mixed bag of inconsistencies, red herrings, and circumstantial evidence.
What to do now, but get out the webcam, edit in a cool techno song, and tell the YouTube world what I’d found. My video post garnered a decent number of views, a few subscriptions, but most importantly some interesting messages, including one from GreenTeaGirlie “herself.” I received generally positive comments, though some are already suspicious I am in on GreenTeaGirlie’s scheming.
It now seems that mystery is what GreenTeaGirlie is about. Her “official” website speaks of a game to be played out through clues in her videos and the forums section is full of discussion of the most recent clues. I posted a second video last night that explores the most recent clues and the mysterious goings-on at www.greenteagirlie.com, a site playing off of the numerical clues in her videos but which GreenTeaGirlie claims “someone [else] actually took time to put together that site… someone made that up, isn’t it interesting what people do in their spare time!”
The idea of viral gaming to be played out in YouTube with some sort of prize or conclusive finale is exciting. With only six videos, GreenTeaGirlie has a long way to go in comparison to LonelyGirl15 and Nalt’s ever intriguing GooTube Conspiracy. So I’ll continue to wander the series of YouTubes and see who wants to wander with me, as I try to orchestrate a crowd-sourced exposé of my own.