Going viral. It’s the goal of the internet, in a way. You want as many people as possible to see what you posted, you want to be on all of the social media sites, you want parents to confusedly ask their kids “so what was that thing that was on the website?”. It the dream of nerds everywhere. Well…going viral can have some interesting results.
The first post of mine that got significant attention was not actually posted by me. I sent a text message to my friend Leah, who posted a screenshot on her tumblr. And here it is, in all its glory:
This post currently has 19,447 notes on tumblr. It got reposted on Reddit. Someone I didn’t know had it posted on their Facebook. Vulture.com emailed me asking if I’d do emoji stories for them. All because I got bored one afternoon (and I wanted a legitimate use for the poop emoji).
So that was my first experience with a viral post. Pretty harmless, and only one anonymous message asking if I stole it from someone else.
And then I posted about condoms.
So Boston University recently started a program called the Condom Fairy where they will deliver condoms to your on-campus mailbox free of charge. I wrote this post about it on my side tumblr complete with an pictures and then everything on the internet got a little weird.
That post currently has 25,942 notes and has been reposted several times, each with around 10,000 notes. I get questions about it every. single. day. These questions include:
- Do you always use condoms?
- How frequently do you need to use the condom fairy?
- Is that lube in that picture?
- What flavor of lube is that?
- Do you like flavored lube?
- What flavor is your favorite?
- What is the website for the condoms?
- Do you use female condoms too?
- I need condoms.
- Trojans? Is that your favorite brand?
So everyday I get these questions (and more!). Then I have to decide if I’m going to actually answer any of the questions. Should I engage with the people asking me personal questions over the internet? Does that only encourage the crazy? Well, it turns out that not answering doesn’t stop people from asking.
So I am now apparently Tumblr’s authority on condoms. People bring all their condom-related problems to me. Including one guy who claimed that condoms were “too small” for him. Yeah right. Try again, buddy. I’m the tumblr expert on condoms, remember? I know you’re full of it.
I’ve learned a lot since posting about the Condom Fairy (especially about the need for sex ed in America. People do not know enough about condoms.) but the number one lesson is this: Going viral is weird. Your posts will be reposted by people you’re never met. People you know in real life will come ask you about it. People on the internet will ask you strange personal questions. Every morning you will wake up to some fresh new inappropriate ask in your inbox and be left staring at it while you wonder what could have possessed anyone to ask you that.
The strange outcomes don’t stop people from wanting the things they post on the web to go crazy, however. So I say go for it: start dance crazes on YouTube or make it to the front page of Reddit.
But if you really want to go viral, take my advice: use condoms.