Upset the Applecart
This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
I have been a free-lance journalist since 1998 and have written for numerous publications and websites in the interceding years. Of course, The Good Men Project is one of my favorites. My articles here touch on relationships, spirituality, sexuality, and politics. My intention is to pen pieces that encourage people to expand their horizons, open their hearts and minds, step forward, speak out, and truth be told, take them at least a wee bit outside their comfort zones. That’s what I want to feel as well. If I play it too safe and write only what I think people want to hear, then I am not taking the risk to be vulnerable and my words ring hollow. If I am willing to experience feedback that isn’t easy to hear, I am doing it right.
I had a recent opportunity to do that. I had written an article for another site, called “How the President’s Communication Style is Like That Of An Abusive Parent”. Within a few days (and at this writing), the article accrued over 21 thousand shares on Facebook alone, with additional shares on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Clearly, it struck a chord and touched a nerve among readers. Although there isn’t a specific numerical threshold to cross that constitutes internet viral status, it seems to me that it this one would fall into that lofty category. I wish I knew the formula to assure a repeat performance with all of my work. Perhaps it was the title that had people’s heads turning. Maybe it was the subject matter that many could relate to. Some said that it could easily apply to other perpetrators of abuse, such as partners or friends. It could be that a disproportionate number of people who shared are of the same political bent that I am. Lastly, I imagine that many are themselves, abuse survivors who knowingly nod their heads and check items off a list as they see themselves in those harmed by the words uttered by the president.
Each time the article was posted on people’s individual or group pages, I felt a sense of exhilaration, but not in a Sally Field award show acceptance speech, “You really do like me,” kinda way. More like a ‘this is making an impact,’ manner. Although much of the response was overwhelmingly positive, I noticed that on the Facebook group page for the website, there was a bit of a kerfuffle among readers. Many gave it a thumbs up. Some felt that as a journalist and a therapist, I should have been more circumspect, academic, non-biased and less partisan. Clearly my left of center, crunchy granola hippie freak flag was flying in the breeze. I felt tempted to defend my perspective, but I showed a bit of restraint and sat back and watched as the commentators had at it. My thick skin was in evidence as well. I wanted to engage some of the naysayers but didn’t want to feed potential trolls.
So, what does it take for an article to go viral?
In an Entrepreneur article entitled “10 Secrets to Going Viral on Social Media,” it was indicated “According to a recent PEW study, nearly 70 percent of people living in the United States use at least one social media network. Over 2.5 billion people (a number that is growing rapidly) are on social networks worldwide.” My target audience is clearly on social media.
According to Urban Dictionary, something that “goes viral” is an image, video, or link that spreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a number of individuals. The article gained momentum as one person told another and another, much like the Herbal Essences commercial, “She told two friends and they told two friends, and so on and so on. “
Seems to me that the ingredients to creating a phenom such as viral content is to go outside of the familiar and comfortable, to upset the applecart so that readers decide if they want to scoop them up and take a crunchy bite with juice dripping down their chins or throw rotten fruit at the writer.
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Photo credit: Shutterstock
December 9, 2018 at 06:43PM