My Story Went Viral and Freaked Me Out
I had a hard time processing it.
If there are two things I know about the world it’s this: 1) People will roam the Earth lacking necessary information on certain subjects to speak about them in a rational manner. 2) This won’t stop them from running their mouths.
If there is one thing most people know about me it’s this: I don’t suffer fools.
As you can imagine, this is not always a good combination. I slap my palm to my forehead a lot. This combination is the genesis for a lot of my writing.
It’s not my desire to be right. It’s my desire for people not to be ignorant.
I wrote a piece this week about New York’s abortion law. It was written out of concern that the world thought a significant amount of mothers are just crazy baby killers who are too irresponsible and indecisive to actually handle pregnancy and want to throw babies away willy-nilly. That mentality is ignorant and angers me.
I hit publish and felt very good about the piece. I went to work and about my day. I checked in on it a few hours later to see if it was curated by Medium. Nope.
When I got home, I checked my stats. Something happened. What the hell was happening?
It gained a lot of traction. But, it still hadn’t been curated. Instead, it went viral. I posted it to my Facebook page. Three friends reposted it. Their friends reposted it. 5,000 views from Facebook later, I don’t know what to think.
Then something else bizarre happened. It became a thing with Google. I guess I’m good at SEO. I have no idea. I don’t know what I did. All I know is that no matter what you Google about the New York abortion law, you get my article in the results. Thousands and thousands of views from Google.
My brains was a mix of feelings I could not sort through easily.
I still felt like it failed.
It fell absolutely flat by my standards. Crickets on Medium. The editors did not like it. 2% of the views have come from Medium. I could not wrap my brain around success outside of Medium. It’s like my stories don’t live outside of here. Here they are safe and warm. Out there, it’s dark and scary.
I will make $1.18 on it if I’m lucky.
Medium is a source of income for me. Having an article blow up and yet be monetarily unsuccessful is a weird dichotomy. At 15k views it had garnered 61 claps. The people who found the article are not members of Medium. There’s also a good chance people read it and hate it and me. I will never know.
It also brought some serious crazy out of the woodwork.
My Twitter notification feed blew up like the Fourth of July. A nut job on the far right tweeted out my story and tried to debunk everything I said with false information. That was super fun. I’ve since learned that when you counter crazy people with actual factual data it short circuits them. Then they block you. So fun. Note: It’s best to let it go. Do not poke the bear.
My statistics are now jacked.
I’m goal oriented. Stats make me comfortable. Now I have this huge spike and the rest of my stats look like ants. It’s damaging my psyche. I also now can’t tell how other stories are doing and how I’m actually doing on Medium. It’s all wonky. I am unsettled, still.
My audience has not grown or changed
This is the hardest part. All these people? They’re not coming back. They got what they came for and left. Oh, that sounds so cheap! I want them to come back. I want them to read the other stories at the bottom of the page. I want them to find other writers. I want them to love Medium as I do. That’s the one thing that’s missing for me. The desire to feel valued. I’m craving a little affirmation right now but they are a ship that has sailed out of the harbor.
Amidst all of this there is something that makes me wildly and overwhelmingly happy. I wrote the piece to get information out there. People saw it. Thousands and thousands of people saw it.
My article was successful for one reason and one reason alone. It did what I intended it to do. I wanted people to be more educated. I wanted to challenge them to not just think, but to think outside their conventions. I feel like I achieved that. It took a lot of brain power to get to that place.