I went viral. In the midst of looking up what would technically make a thing ‘viral’ in the social media sense, I was contacted by a world renowned advocate who mentioned in her message that there were several reasons why my story had gone viral. That was all I needed. She had tens of thousands of followers and was doing truly important work to make the world safer for children, so I wasn’t going to fight with her.
I highly recommend going viral. Granted, coming down is a bear, but having flown so high is a thrill. Its all of five days later now and I can give several reasons why what happened had very little to do with me. I can also tell you I haven’t stopped updating the page to see how many shares it’s received. While I can’t see the actual times the page has been viewed, knowing that it’s been shared 32,000 times since it went up 5 days ago is hugely validating. about 20,000 of those in the first 24 hours. A little over 20K actually. This and $2.00 still can’t buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but its value to my sense of self is unmeasurable.
That said by the third day when the story was shared only a few thousand times, well over 100 per hour, it started to feel bad. I’ve never had a story shared more than 500 times ever. That’s in the entire lifespan of anyother story. Still, what was happening. The quantifiable love and validation was leaving. All of a sudden I felt foolish.
What the hell was I doing. The story was an incredibly personal one. It was of the scariest day of my life. A day when we thought that our little boy was going to die due to an allergic reaction. It was powerful because it’s hard to not be powerful when sharing the most personal of fearful stories. But somehow I’d gotten caught up in the thrill of having so many people think this story was so valuable that they were sharing it. They were saying mostly very flattering things about me. They were tagging friends it made them think of or who had wanted to better understand what it was like to have a child with a life threatening allergy. They were sharing it with leaders in the world of people advocating for the rights and best interests of this group of people to be protected in a way that exceeded the present woeful status quo. Those leaders actually shared it within their circles of influence. Some even reached out to me personally to thank me for sharing my families story and this was the real value.
I never articulate why I write. To some degree that’s because there is no one answer. On one level I’ve been compelled to write since I was a kid. In a loud and confusing world where I’d found a good role to play, a good disguise, it was a place to be honest, scared, angry and confused. On another level I write to discover. To discover my own thoughts and opinions and feelings. To discover new interests and areas of concern and flaws and strengths. Lately it’s been to share my inner self with the outer world to avoid the pitfalls and regrets that come with hiding one’s light. As an example for my kids. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I ocassionally write because I love my kids and anything can happen and I want them to have a first had account of who I was and how I thought and felt in case I pass too early. Or even if I don’t and they are just curious. I want them to have some access to who I am and how much I love them. Going ‘viral’ and the responses I’ve received have added to my reasons.
I’m proud to have written something that has helped people express their experience more clearly to the people who love them. I’m delighted to have written something that many people told me brought them to tears. I’m happy to have made people feel. Perhaps I’m most happy that I wrote something that spoke to people who didn’t have the same knowledge as I did, that my piece informed them while also making an emotional impact.
I love the writing. I love doing it and I’d love to do it as a means to make a living. That is a definite goal. But as long as I am able to make an impact, be helpful, inform and express myself, I can’t see the lack of it being a source of income ever stopping me from following my curiosity and expressing myself honestly in this way. Viral was fun, if a bit overstated. Hearing that my words helped was and is overwhelmingly gratifying and all the reason I’ll ever need.