Everything That Happens To You After Going Viral

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Everything That Happens To You After Going Viral

I got my second (of two) viral helmet stickers last week, you guys. The first was when I wrote I Hate Your Engagement Photos and bridezillas from near and far either 1) affirmed my beliefs or 2) got defensive and told me I’d be single forever.

But when I published the hipster marriage announcement and our site crashed, we knew something was up that we hadn’t truly experienced before in our short few years of slangin’ content and stackin’ pageviews.

When something like that happens, things get weird. You sit behind your screens and watch the circus unfold. Traffic is up, comments are high, and everyone seemingly wants to weigh in on what you’ve done. But at the risk of being incredibly meta, this is everything that happens.

You get hate mail.

You know the phrase, “For every hot girl, there’s a guy that’s tired of fucking her”? Well, that’s what happens when the internet starts proverbially fellating you with compliments (more of that in a second). No matter how many people like or share something you’ve created, urchins from all facets of the internet are going to crawl out in an attempt to make you feel like the scum of the earth. Justified? Probably. Fun to read? Sometimes, but mostly something you should take with a grain of salt (but can’t).

Fans share, haters comment. That’s just how the internet works. So for every person who deems it necessary to put your piece on their Facebook wall, there’s going to be an angry Facebook comment on the original post from someone who (probably) didn’t read your piece in the first place but still felt as though they need to tear you down based on your headline.

You get fan mail.

And by “fan mail,” I mean “emails that say, “Omg, this was SO relatable!” which are then weirdly followed by a link to your column as if you have no idea what they’re talking about. Here’s a list of key phrases people will use when emailing you about your work:

“my friend just sent this to me”
“so true”
“thank you”
“so relatable”

Clearly, these buzz words only apply to going viral in the realm of writing something humorous, as I’m sure Vine Stars and overwrought emotionally distressed girls at Elite Daily and Thought Catalog probably see a whole different slew of compliments. But either way, if your Facebook is findable or your email is available, you’re going to see an influx of people reaching out, and your daily task of sorting through emails becomes a lot more daunting (but a little more confidence boosting).

You’ll get a bunch of Instagram and Twitter followers (who will inevitably unfollow you).

It’s kind of like when you see strangely named porn star bot accounts that follow you at 3 a.m. on Instagram, but with actual human beings. They read your piece, they think you’re great, they toss you a follow. But then when you begin posting regularly, they either wonder who this random person on their feed is or they unfollow you after the realization that everything you say won’t be a viral sensation.

Friends of friends of friends will share it, and everyone will tell you, “My friend shared it!”

One of two things will happen here. The first – people you haven’t talked to in years will share whatever is viral on Facebook, and they’ll awkwardly tag you in it. At that point, you have to make the decision of whether you approve the tag and have it on your wall for the hundredth time, or if you deny and forget the person existed again. It’s the harsh reality of not remembering everyone you’ve met since high school.

The second part of this is what happens when your friends (or friends of friends) see your column shared by someone they know. If they don’t know that you’ve written or created whatever went viral, they’ll realize it after clicking and think “OMG, my friend wrote this!” Or, they’ll reach out personally and express that their friend has shared it, at which point you have no idea how to respond.

You’ll wonder why everything else you’ve ever created didn’t go viral.

I was in a meeting and someone asked me, “What’s your favorite thing you’ve written here?” I said this. Then I was asked, “What was your most successful thing you’ve ever written?” I said I Hate Your Engagement Photos. And if you ask anyone else the same questions, the answers never align. The kid that threw a water bottle onto a table at a talent show? Viral. Random. The kid that recorded the first “What are those?” Vine? Viral. Random. The “Damn, Daniel” video? Viral. And I still don’t understand what the deal with it is.

Virality is random. No one can explain it, but once something strikes a chord, it begins spreading like an unstoppable wildfire that you can’t dream of containing.

But either way, thanks for reading.

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