The Four Stages of a Viral Post

I think I need to stay off the Internet.

Okay, we all know that will never really happen. Kind of like when I say I need to stop eating sugar ... when in all reality I would probably stop breathing first.

But, much like sugar, the things I find on the Internet can be bad for me. Or, more accurately, the things that find me - in the form of all the crap my hundreds of Facebook friends share. (I'll say this for sugar: at least it doesn't fly into my mouth on its own. Unless I'm trying to find an excuse for that ten pounds I rapidly gained, and then yeah, it's allllll the sugar's fault.)

I'm talking about viral blog posts. Sometimes sappy, sometimes witty, usually inflammatory, but always filled with such deep insight and profundity that the entire Internet stands up and claps. You know, metaphorically. And then someone else comes up with a post about why the first post is wrong and the Internet is like, "Oooooooh, burn!" *clap clap clap*

And then you see the author of the first blog post on the Today Show and inking a six-figure book deal.

For a regular person, these back-and-forth viral posts may just be food for thought. Good advice to file away for their kids, or to make their marriage as good in real life as it appears to be on Facebook. But to a blogger, these posts have a whole new layer of meaning. They're competition, y'all. Admit it: no matter how happy you are for Blogger X whose post went so viral that even your grandma had heard about it, you can't help but feel that twinge. And so it begins.

Stage One: Jealousy
When I read a blog post that has gone viral, my inner four-year-old kicks into overdrive. Man, I think. I wish I could have a viral post. That would be so cool. And then the whiny, pouty internal monologue: why don't I have a viral post? Oh yeah. Because I don't put my words together as good as this person and this person and this person. ... And because I haven't written a post in like two weeks. ... And because I blog about stuff like boogers and poop.

Stage Two: Determination
Then I get all eager. But people like reading about boogers and poop! I could write a viral post! I TOTALLY could! So I sit down in front of my computer and I stare expectantly at the screen. I'm gonna DO this! YEAH! And then I start to realize that I kind of need a topic. And poop never goes viral.*

*Unless it's diarrhea and you're taking the word "viral" literally. Like that one time last year. Yuck.

When I try to think of a topic, I get all pressured. And my eager-beaver I'm-gonna-write-a-viral-post excitement starts to wane. It looks something like this:

Only in real life I have ears. And eyelashes. And a lower body. And much less of a tan.

Stage Three: Dumbness
When I am not immediately struck with a brilliant blog post idea, I decide to give myself some time. Maybe if I read over the latest viral post again, I'll pick up a few tidbits. Something will slap me in the face about why it went viral so I, too, can write a viral post. So I read it over and over. Wow, I think. What great points this blogger has. 

And then, inevitably, someone - or four or five or ten someones - come up with a blog post in response, with an absolutely opposite but equally eloquent and well-presented viewpoint. People on my Facebook friends list whose opinions I respect post them. And I read those. And I'm all, Wow. That's a great point too. Shit.

Case in point: the latest viral post I've been sucked into, Seth Adam's Smith's "Marriage Isn't For You." And then this brilliant rebuttal from Joel Mathis: "Au Contraire, Marriage is For You." Before that, it was Kim Hall's letter to her sons' female Facebook friends and then about a gazillion responses to that post. Each presents valid points, things I haven't thought of before, things I should have thought of before. Immediately I agree with the first viral post - and then find myself agreeing with the rebuttal. And then I feel kinda stupid. And easily swayed.

Stage Four: Meh. 
After all the mental exhaustion that comes from reading and questioning and trying (and failing) to come up with something to light the Internet aflame, I start thinking, Why do I even want a viral post? So people can come up with comebacks and I can read them and pretend they don't bother me as my tears of humiliation mix with the cupcakes I'd be shoveling into my mouth? 

Nope. I just want a book deal. I just want someone to be all, "Hey! She writes stuff that people like to read! Let's PAY her to do that!"

And maybe a visit to The Today Show. That would be cool too.

Eventually I just accept that I don't exactly possess the sharp insight and salty wisdom to gift the Internet with advice that everybody needs to see. (I blame my kids. Yeah, that sounds good. My kids.) If this very post were going to go viral, I'd have to end it with something heartfelt and insightful like ...

...... like ......

Well, damn.


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