A couple days ago, one of my tweets unexpectedly went viral. It's gotten a few thousand retweets and likes on Twitter, and this morning, I learned that the tweet had been screencapped and shared all over Facebook, too. It didn't go as big as Dramatic Chipmunk or Keyboard Cat or Charlie Bit My Finger, but it's gotten more views than anything I've ever done, which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
So here's what I learned during my brief period of low-level Twitter semi-fame.
- It is very exciting. Your phone notifications ding like a kindergarten bell choir that's been freebasing Lik-M-Aid, and every time you look at your phone, there are a half-dozen people or more who've liked or retweeted your post. Sometimes, a celebrity retweets you, and then things get even more crazy. Sometimes, it's a celebrity you really, really like, and then you get an extra charge out of the fact that someone you think is awesome thinks something you wrote is awesome, too! Seriously, y'all, Gail Simone, Cherie Priest, and John Chu retweeted me!
- It does not stay exciting for long. After a few hours, the constant dinging gets really tiring, and most of the people retweeting you aren't famous. They're all perfectly nice people, but you don't get that endorphin rush out of it anymore. You silence your phone so you can sleep, and you leave it silenced the next day, because it's nice not to be reminded about the retweets, so you don't have to check the phone over and over. You start dreading having to clear your notifications, and you don't even bother checking all the names anymore. There may be friends in there retweeting you, there may be other celebrities, but it's too much work to comb through them all.
- Twitter needs a better way to see who's retweeting and liking you.
- Going viral is not something you'll ever want to put on your resume. For one thing, all those retweets are just a blip on the Twitter radar. It's not at all hard to find tweets with a vastly larger number of retweets -- hell, pop star Justin Bieber gets at least 10,000 retweets on every single post he makes. Furthermore, it's impossible to predict what may go viral, and it's almost a stone guarantee that this one tweet is going to be the very high point of my Internet career.
- It's really distracting. I had a number of things I'd planned to work on over the last couple days, and it was just too easy to fuss over my Twitter notifications than to do anything important.
- Going low-level viral is still cool, even if it gets tiring. It's nice to be appreciated, and it's nice to see so many people who think like I do. It's really cool that my tweet got boosted by celebs/writers/accomplished people who I think are cool.
- It's actually more fun to ignore the wingnuts and nay-sayers. Fighting all of them would be incredibly stressful, and letting them think you didn't even see their response is strangely satisfying. Hmm, you said something to me, Little Deplorable? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the din of people high-fiving me.
- There are a lot of people out there who don't really understand the concept of "exaggeration for comic effect." There were a small number of people who agreed with me who seemed to believe that the exact exchange in my tweet had really happened. And there were so very, very many wingnuts who angrily demanded that I stop defaming Donald Trump with my terrible lying lies.
- There are a lot of people who are not happy with press coverage of the campaign. The tweet struck a chord in a lot of people, and it was really gratifying to see that people who don't read political blogs are seeing the same things I'm seeing. The media double-standard is visible to a lot of folks, and they're far from happy about it.
- The whole thing would have been more fun if it'd been a tweet (or blog post or photo or anything else) that I'd spent more time and effort on. Back when I was blogging, I'd spend hours and hours working to put a post together, and the ones I was really proud of took at least a day of hard writing. Those were the ones I wanted people to see, and they always had the fewest hits of anything I did. This particular tweet? I was proud of it, but it'd been the work of less than a minute to complete. It felt like I was cheating -- and like I was being cheated, because this toss-off tweet got more attention than anything else I'd ever done.
- This almost certainly would have been a deeply unpleasant and frightening experience if I'd been anything other than a straight white male. Women and ethnic/religious/gender minorities who go viral get horrifying levels of abuse from the peabrains who disagree with them. So far, no one has said they wanted to kill me, no one has said they wanted to rape me, no one has said I should be put in an oven, and very few people sent alt-right crap at me (so far -- knock on wood). I know that I'm very fortunate, and I know that the only reason I'm fortunate is because I'm not a woman, I'm not Jewish, I'm not Muslim, I'm not African-American, I'm not gay, I'm not trans.
- Next time I go viral, I want it to be because I accomplished something awesome.