They say fame is fleeting. "They" also say that Double Stuff Oreos aren't a real breakfast but they are dead wrong about that. But the fame thing is definitely true.
Even more fleeting than regular fame is Internet fame. One minute you're a viral superstar and your videos are all over every major website in the world. You're trending on Twitter and Facebook. Celebs know who you are and tweet about watching your video. You're on top of the world, and all because you put together a charming video and put it up on YouTube.
And then in an Internet minute, you're being kicked out of a Vlogger Convention and people think you're a fraud. If you recap the journey of YouTube star Sam Rader (Sam & Nia) over the past month, it feels like his meteoric rise and swift fall happened just that quickly.
This is not a celebration of failure, because Sam and Nia, despite past mistakes, are still human beings. This is mostly an interesting, and quite frankly brutal look at how fast the Internet can turn on you and how quickly you can go from fielding interview offers to trying to respond to questions from the press about your credibility. Sam's track is fascinating, albeit in a tragic kind of way, and it serves as a glaring reminder that all it takes is one wobbly piece to send your Jenga tower of stardom crashing to the carpet.
Let's take a look at just how rapidly Sam fell from the Internet's good graces:
August 5: The Pregnancy Reveal
Sam and his wife Nia Rader have been on YouTube making videos since early 2014 ("A small family of four pointing to a big God and vlogging it all... daily" reads the channel's description), but they didn't reach peak viral notoriety until the "Husband Shocks Wife With Pregnancy Announcement" vlog. We wrote about it. Everyone wrote about it, actually, and people fell in love with this seemingly down-to-earth Christian couple who pulled off a crazy baby reveal.
Sam and Nia enjoyed a massive flood of tweets, video views and subscribers. Sam & Nia's Twitter account was full of retweets that showed off all the fans gushing over them and all the websites covering their baby news.
Wow guys! One million views in 24 hours!! pic.twitter.com/iUW56OEVuR? Sam&Nia (@SamAndNia) August 6, 2015
August 6: Reveling in Viral Video Success
A follow-up video is posted featuring family members reacting to the baby news and the couple raving in disbelief over all the newfound fame.
August 8: Tragedy
Just three days after the exciting baby news, Sam and Nia reveal that they had a miscarriage in a video titled "Our Baby Had a Heartbeat."
"We're so hurt but we're so thankful that God used us like this," Sam says in the video. "I just hope this video continues to be a way for God to shine his light through us." Fans send messages of support, but skeptical folk on the Internet who are watching the situation unfold begin to suspiciously side-eye the couple.
August 9: An Odd Tweet
Our tiny baby brought 10M views to her video & 100k new people into our lives. She turned our life around & brought us closer together.? Sam&Nia (@SamAndNia) August 9, 2015
Sam posts a tweet about how the baby they just lost brought tons of video views and new subscribers to their YouTube channel. It rubs people the wrong way and definitely raises a few eyebrows regarding the motivation behind Sam's recent videos. People who doubted the validity of the original reveal video are now pushed to investigate the nature of the pregnancy test using Nia's urine that had been sitting in the toilet.
August 9: Quitting His Day Job
In a video posted to their YouTube channel following the miscarriage news, Sam told Nia he would be quitting his job as a nurse to focus on vlogging full time. The timing of his announcement fuels skepticism.
August 10: Responding to Haters
Sam posts some cryptic tweets that seem to be in response to people doubting the legitimacy of both the pregnancy reveal and the miscarriage announcement.
Some people misinterpreted our previous tweet. We're proud of our unborn child, and we just want to give her and Jesus the credit.? Sam&Nia (@SamAndNia) August 10, 2015
God turned something so tragic into something so great for our family. We're extremely thankful for that.? Sam&Nia (@SamAndNia) August 10, 2015
August 12: Backlash
The real blowback begins. People start posting videos on YouTube claiming Sam and Nia's pregnancy video had to be fake, with pregnant woman testing their own urine in the toilet to try and disprove the method. Their YouTube videos are filled with doubtful messages and comments calling them liars and accusing the couple of duping viewers just to get famous.
Buzzfeed interviews doctors who all agree that the method Sam and Nia used to test for pregnancy is "not advisable" at best. Sam tells the website in an interview that nothing was staged and that he always had a dream to be famous. Some investigation from Buzzfeed into his previous job and videos casts even more doubt on Sam's credibility.
So quick recap: in just one week, Sam and Nia went from the most beloved YouTube couple on the Internet to defending their entire vlogging career.
Meanwhile, Sam and Nia's new video talks about the couple going to Los Angeles for more career opportunities.
August 13: Reality Show Time?
While the backlash continues online, Sam and Nia's latest video touts possibilities of a reality TV show for the couple.
August 14 and 15: On the Defensive
Their new vlogs revolve around responding to hateful comments and trying to silence doubters about their original pregnancy reveal. In one video, Sam does say it was all staged…by God.
"A lot of people think it was staged. I'm like, you know what? It was staged. It was all orchestrated by god above and nothing less," he says. "I'll say stuff like that just to kind of throw them off, but it doesn't make me happy that people are deceived, but it does make me happy that god chose our family out of the world."
August 21: Ashley Madison
After the Ashley Madison data dump, The Daily Mail did some digging and discovered that Sam was a registered user on the site made for marital affairs. The Internet blows up with essentially a synchronized "I knew it!" reaction.
That very night, the couple posts a video of Sam admitting to having an account on Ashley Madison, though he claims he never actually used it or had an affair. He tells the Internet that he has been "cleansed of his sin" and that Nia has already forgiven him. Comments labeling Sam a hypocrite roll in.
August 23: It Gets Worse
News breaks that Sam was kicked out of the Vlogger Fair conference in Seattle over the weekend for threatening and harassing other YouTube personalities. Other attendees of the con put Sam on blast for his behavior.
Never seen anyone climb so high/fall so quickly so fast.I wasn't gonna drag this dude but you wanna threaten people and then play victim?Nah? Meghan Tonjes (@meghantonjes) August 22, 2015
Sam tells Gawker that though he was removed from the conference, he was actually the victim and was just defending himself against another vlogger who had insulted him and his family online.
"It was one person, and I didn't make a threat," Sam said. "What happened was there was a couple of fellow vloggers who had ridiculed our family on Twitter regarding the method we were mourning the loss, our miscarriage on Twitter."
August 24: Radio Silence
Sam and Nia's YouTube page remains updated and their Twitter feed shows no new messages since August 22.
August 25: Taking a Break
Finally, all the heat has caused Sam and Nia to get out of the YouTube kitchen. In a video post titled "Why We Were Kicked Out of Vlogger Fair," Sam explains what happened during the altercation. He again insists he was just confronting other YouTube personalities (he didn't name any names) who had said some stuff on Twitter about how Sam and Nia handled their miscarriage.
After stating that "today has been one of the hardest days of me and Nia's life, by far" Sam revealed that they would be taking a break from vlogging for at least a week, though he suggests it might be more or less than that.
"But we'll be back," he promises.
20 days. It took just 20 days for the couple to go from fame to punchline. 20 days might seem like a lifetime in Internet years, but when you really think about the timeline of their stardom and the pace with which people turned on them, it feels like they fell from the good graces of the YouTube community overnight.
Let Sam and Nia's story be a warning to anyone hoping to become a viral video superstar…the Internet can taketh away much faster than it can giveth.
(Originally published on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 11:16 a.m. PT)