Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Viral

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you want your photo or video to go viral?

Kind of a hard question for me actually.

First of all, I've been a creator on social media for many years and some of my work has been popular. I don't really think anything I've made has ever truly "gone viral," but some things I've created have been shared hundreds of thousands of times and have resulted in a lot of attention. But I'm not sure where the line is to consider something "viral." I've never had commentary tweeted at me every few seconds for days, nor have I been approached by multiple mainstream media outlets to use my content. (That does happen once in a while, but usually not all at the same time for the same creation.)

By and large, being mildly popular on the Internet is stressful. Especially when it's sustained over many years and you know anything you do under certain media accounts will be viewed and dissected thousands of times. I have to admit that it can take a toll, and that I've come to expect the worst every time I open my e-mail. Of course, it's really nice that most of the time it isn't a mean message. It's just that the awful ones can really take a lot out of you.

The closest I've probably come to "going viral" is when I was targeted by trolls several times. 
  • I had one of my essays shared on early Reddit (resulting in a bombardment of vile e-mails). 
  • I had a writeup of how pathetic I am posted on Something Awful (resulting in a wave of "mysterious" criticism of every facet of my online life). 
  • I had a troll stalk me for fourteen days straight posting one of my popular videos on 4chan and pretending to BE ME while inviting questions and answering them in a deliberately condescending, elitist fashion (resulting in literally thousands of harassing comments on my YouTube channel). 
  • I had a /b/ forum member make a permanent post claiming my asexuality was connected to pedophilia and posted my full name in connection with this claim, and I had to get a lawyer to shut it down. 
  • I had two different people post pictures of naked women who vaguely looked like me in that they were blonde white ladies and claimed they were me, and that I didn't mind posing nude because to me bodies aren't sexual. 
  • I had a mainstream news organization use a vacation photo of me in a bathing suit in an article shared worldwide, announcing that I was a thirty-five-year-old virgin and other sensationalistic-sounding lines that led to men from various countries sending me abuse, threats, and weird aggressive marriage proposals on Facebook and Twitter. 
  • And of course nearly every time I've given an interview to a mainstream magazine or news outlet, the comments filled up with abuse commenting on my appearance (or presumed appearance if there was no photo), my likely mental illnesses, the awfulness that has manifested through feminism to let women think they don't have to have sex these days, my obvious selfishness, and my probable sexual abuse that "caused" me to be asexual. Sometimes people use the linked information in these articles to e-mail me privately and lecture me to see a therapist or a doctor, proposition me for sex while claiming I have an obligation to "try" the services of a self-proclaimed master of the art before I say I don't like sex, or invite me to a "debate" or hostile environment where they obviously intend to attack me in a semi-public forum. 
I guess my point is that getting a lot of online attention almost always leads to stressful, negative experiences. Sometimes it isn't worth it.

It's really nice sometimes to get the messages from people who appreciate what I do, though. I've gotten tons of sweet messages from people who needed my content or benefited from it, and since I know most people who like something don't contact the creator, I have to imagine that the people who like my content are exponentially plentiful. When my content helps people, I appreciate the boost that comes with low-level viral sharing. But knowing what I know, I have to say that going legit viral would just be a bigger, more overwhelming version of what I've already experienced, and I've already had more than enough of that.

So . . . in answer to the initial question. . . . 

How about no.

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