Virality: a Twitter thread

Tweet one: the mother tweet. It's the thing that triggers the virality in the first place. Wait. My laptop has "virality" in red underline. Is that an actual word to begin with? Or, is that even relevant? I mean, words evolve, languages evolve, and "literally" means both what it means and the opposite of what it means, and nobody is fighting over it anymore. Begrudgingly accepting it, perhaps.

So, what makes something go viral? I don't know. It's really a combination of luck and wit, isn't it? Just as long as you don't try so hard to go viral. There really are posts "built" to viral, and almost always they fail, because the Internet knows. Is it dogs? Cats? What's the cat doing? What props are involved? Are there any pastel colors? Are you being humiliated? Do you feel humiliated? Don't be too cocky about it - the Internet knows.

Tweet two: the follow-up tweet. Twitter rolling out its threads feature meant having your thoughts run across multiple 140-character... wait, no, they've since doubled that. Funny how there was an outroar about the site shifting to 280 characters, only for people to end up using it, no? Maximizing it, even. And if you put a lot of emojis in it, that's even more characters, since a picture paints a thousand words, or something.

Wait, I got distracted again. Sorry. So. You know. Thoughts across multiple tweets. Stories across multiple tweets. Somehow people will read your thoughts more when you break them up into sections. Chapters. Headers. In this case, tweets.

Because over there, we think we have finished our thoughts, but we have one more come up, and we just have to write it down.

I mean, that's what makes us human, right?

Are we truly human? Are we just slaves to the tweet machine?

Is anybody listening to me?

If nobody listens to you, are you truly human?


Tweet three: the plug. This is only applicable when you've gotten lucky, only when you've struck a chord with the right people at the right time, the right people who are willing to spread your thing at the right time. Chain reaction. Domino effect. Suddenly your phone is crashing with the number of notifications you get. Thousands of people have seen your post. No, tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands? Is that possible? That hasn't happened to me. I've only hit 10,000 impressions. That's just impressions, not people.

Only then can you milk it for what it's worth. Conveniently, you're doing some sort of passion project that not everybody understands, and this might be your only chance to make people understand that what you're doing is going to change the world, dammit!

"Since this post is blowing up, here's my Soundcloud page."

Nobody clicks on it.

You know this for a fact, because you've been obsessively refreshing your stats page and you see no uptick in play counts.

Your life flashes before your eyes. "You can't just be a musician!" your father told you. "You can't earn money from that! Why not be an accountant, like me?"

Tweet four: the response to the hate. The Internet knows. Whatever that is, the Internet knows. Someone out there will realize that, actually, you deserve to be humiliated. That situation isn't funny; it's making a lesson out of you. You're an idiot, you know. It's your fault you're put in this position. You get what you deserve. You also don't get a play count on your Soundcloud page.

Your life flashes before your eyes. "You can't just be a musician!" your father told you. "You can't earn money from that! Why not be an accountant, like me?"

Yes, that again.

And then there's some more. You recall your grade school days, when a bird decided to drop shit on your leg, and everybody laughed at you rather than helping you wipe off that thing.

To be fair, they don't really know what to do. They can't wipe it off with their hands! That's gross! And also, there's no rag nearby, no faucet. You could have rushed to the washroom but you're too stunned to do so.

You could have rushed to the washroom, you know.

Instead, you let everybody around you laugh.

You crave the attention.

Admit it, you crave the attention.

You deserve all of this ridicule.

"Guys, I was stunned! I didn't know what to do!"

No, you're evil. Your defense is too late. The Internet knows. Slowly, but surely, it will turn its back on you, and you'll realize that you've gone viral not because you're funny, or because you're interesting, or because you're cute, but because you're an evil person, and everybody is judging you, and everybody now knows how shitty a person you are. No wonder that bird did what it did back in grade school. Shit goes with shit. You are shit.

Tweet five: the concession. "I'm quitting Twitter for good."

They say there will always be screen captures, and those will live on, but let's be honest - the Internet also forgets. Its constant hunger for the next big thing means your moment of infamy really won't last. The point is, you don't really have to quit. But you don't want to risk it, do you?

Your phone's low on battery and there's no laptop nearby, so you can't just quit either. You'll need to go home and charge.

You do get home, and you've forgotten all of this has happened.

And your responses...

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