The Anatomy of a Viral Post (Part I): 36 Hours of Madness

Things have been a bit crazy at Villa Zilla these past few days.

For anyone who may have missed it, my silly little post about the Thermomix went viral on my blog, got picked up by Mamamia and then went viral again. It has had over 22 000 Facebook shares at the time I am writing this.

The last few days have been exhausting and exhilarating and surreal and stressful. I wanted to sail back in here, all blasé and nonchalant about my brief moment of internet fame and the fact that I single-handedly kick-started a massive internet shit-storm about a kitchen appliance. But I can’t. I realise that this is an act of massive vanity but I can’t move on without acknowledging the hurricane of craziness that has swirled around me these past three days.

Oh gosh, and I’m having to publish it in two parts because it is a bit long. What a wanker.

This is how it all went down.

THE ANATOMY OF A VIRAL POST: PART ONE

INCUBATION PERIOD

It starts on Monday night. I need to write a new post so I can participate in the blog link-up with Essentially Jess for “I Blog On Tuesday”.

My post has the working title “Thermomix: Virus, Cult or Pyramid Scheme?” It’s snappy. It shows promise. It doesn’t quite take the direction I thought it would but I like the final version. My parodical disdain for the Thermomix is a running joke in my online mother’s group, so it makes sense for me to finally blog about it.

I glibly commented within the group that I really liked the article, which generally means that no-one else does.

I casually post it to the link-up on Tuesday morning, share the link to my FB page and tweet it to all 31 of my followers.

Sitting down with a cup of tea, I visit one of my new favourite blogs and it features the article “Check Yo’ Self, Internet”; a funny-yet-incisive rant about bloggers and the internet trolls who bully them.

Before clicking out, I leave the comment “Stuff like this makes me determined to stay in my obscure little corner of the web where nobody cares about me”.

I have no idea that the blog post I just uploaded is about to go massively viral in just a few hours. God has a wicked sense of humour.

INFECTION AND CONTAGION PERIOD

Within minutes of uploading the blog post one of my friends messages me, gleefully sharing it on her own Facebook page and tagging everyone she thinks might get a kick out it. She is officially “Ground Zero” for the viral shitstorm that is about to unfold.

I notice very early on that the share rate is quite high, and I start to think this might be a big one. I cheer it on as it effortlessly cracks 100 shares, and watch in awe as it sails past my previous all-time best post, which has 407 Facebook shares. In the seconds it takes to write a quick post in my online mother’s group, the number of FB shares rises by 20.

I send a message to a friend at 4:00pm on Tuesday afternoon.

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At 4:30 that afternoon, a different friend sent me this message.

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My post has been uploaded to an open FB group called Thermofun, a online gathering of Thermomix users who are robustly debating and praising and sharing my post. Most of them get the joke and are laughing along, but others are somewhat less than flattering.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.16.47 pm

Someone calls me an idiot and gets 30 likes. I get accused of being jealous, stupid, unfunny, unoriginal, pretentious and boring. Ouch. 80% of the comments are overwhelmingly positive but I can’t help but focus my attention on the haters.

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Some of my friends wade in to defend me, one of them goes in with a box of popcorn and several other cheeky bastards go in so they can troll me themselves. One of my friends – a Thermomix demonstrator herself – gleefully jumps into the melee, calls me a “raving lunatic” and promptly earns herself several likes in the process. It was the moment of light-relief I desperately needed; my own friends trolling me, and all of us lolling about in virtual reality, cackling at how ludicrous it is.

It’s around this time that the initial exhilaration and excitement turns to shock and a numb kind of gut-churning anxiety. My post is completely out of control and so are some of the responses it gets. I don’t know what is going to happen next, and I don’t like it.

The comments on my blog are incessant, and I’m finding it hard to keep up with them. The light-hearted responses and mild blowing-of-raspberries are giving way to increasingly negative comments with no real intent other than to hurl insults and to criticise me for the sake of it. I refuse to publish them (and will eventually close down the comments section entirely, when it gets out of hand).

Links to the post keep popping up in more and more of my friend’s Facebook feeds and I say to my husband that I have a very funny feeling the post is going to go seriously viral. I keep telling him “This is crazy. This is seriously crazy” over and over again as the numbers climb in ever greater numbers.

He scoffs at me and tells me that viral means “millions of shares, not thousands”. This is a man who thinks that selfies are called “facies”, so I tell him that his expertise in this area is dubious at best.

I go to bed that night, feeling a bit sick about it all. My mind is racing and my stomach is churning. I am tossing and turning. I can’t sleep. All I am hoping is that it tapers off in the morning and goes away.

I wake up early on Wednesday morning, anxious to check what had happened overnight. I worry about how many nasty comments I am going to encounter on my blog. The activity tapers off (4000+ FB shares) with dwindling stats, and I feel relieved.

It is finally over.

And then the deputy editor from Mamamia sends me an email….

**** END OF PART ONE ****

Part two can be found here. CLICK HERE to proceed!

I thought that shit was crazy now. I had no idea how crazy it was going to get.

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39 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Viral Post (Part I): 36 Hours of Madness

  1. Oh that is awesome lol! I’ve only recently heard all the thermomix crazyness, and I thought your post was so funny! Lol, it would have been so surreal and a bit scary watching it all get bigger and bigger!

  2. I’m disgusted with myself for not commenting on it. That was the one where I thought… this girl is funny, went to your first post, commented on that and forgot to go back. This is why I lack the talent to get 21 000 shares on Facebook. Sigh.

  3. You totally didn’t need to split it into two posts, I wanted to keep reading 🙂
    Bring on part two! And remember, Confucious say ‘don’t feed the trolls’ x

  4. Don’t know why you were stressed, I think most of us with a thermomix thought you were hilariously accurate, I loved reading your view…….

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5. I loved the thermipost! Not least because it directed me to your blog which has made me laugh and laugh. So funny and well written. Keep writing lady! And on an unrelated matter, take heart, the penis people eventually morph into more obvious stick people, then clothed folk, and before you know it are even given names spelt only phonetically 🙂 Embrace the penis portraits! Very short lived in my experience xo

    • The penis people. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHA! You’re right, it will pass so quickly and I will miss it. So glad you’ve enjoyed the blog, and thanks so much for that amazing compliment.

  6. For once I recognised talent before it got in the mainstream ; ) once I saw someone share it via mamamia I knew it was gonna be ha-uge! Awesome stuff. (Told you – next blogess xx) deb

    • Oh no, I really hope that this week brings better things for you. Having a shot time of things sucks when you have little people relying on you and you can’t just crawl into a cave and lick your wounds for a while.

  7. It was a great post – it was also a post that is odd that it got haters on it. In this big world of ours, with all the issues with dubious complexity, I fail to see a light hearted anti-thermomix post should garner hate and bile, unless only out of jealousy…so kudos to you for getting what many of us will only ever dream of….celebrate! Off to read part 2.

    • Thanks Lydia, and I think you just perfectly summed up something that was troubling me about all this. The amount of angst and hate over a silly little joke about a blender, when there is so much more in the bigger picture. Thank you so much for that comment. I’m seriously nodding here.

  8. That’s right, bask in your glory!! Don’t let the haters get you down, trolls who find pleasure out of posting negative comments, are not worth your time, the good comments totally outweighed the bad…can’t wait for part two!

  9. I’m a favourite! I’m putting that on my resume also, along with “official Bee’s Ankles for Fat Mum Slim”.
    I have never wanted a post to go viral, for all these reasons. Too many new people who don’t understand me and my humour are too quick on their keyboards for my liking.

    I once had a post go up on news.com.au and then picked up by The Australian. I knew it was going up so I wasn’t going to read the comments. That is as far as I’ve gotten, and that’s how I like it! Poor thing 😦

    • Yeah, it was an interesting exercise because I don’t take anything seriously – least of all myself – so the reaction kind of surprised me. Not because some people didn’t find it funny (because hey, that’s fair enough) but that people were actively offended and in some cases outraged. And urgh. Comments. I was blissfully unaware that I was being torn a new one over at the Mamamia FB page until several people pointed it out to me. It’s that car crash rule. DO NOT LOOK! I looked. And then I gagged.

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