Why I Don’t Want To Go Viral


I suppose a dream for most bloggers or youtubers is to go viral. It’s not mine though. I’m perfectly happy in my tiny slice of the internet with a handful of people who regularly read my posts and respond according to their own experience.

In the last year or two, I’ve written a few posts that have gone viral in their own small way. If Grumpy Cat is worldwide viral, then my posts have infected a small fishing village. Still, this nominal taste of viral-ness has taught me enough to know that I want none of it.

Most of what I write isn’t fit for mass consumption, which is why it surprises me that I have three posts that continue to get views every day since I wrote them: The Pros & Cons Of Dog Ownership, The Worst Products For Left-Handed People and Tattoo Trends That Should Stop.

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You can almost always find all three in the “what you’re reading” widget in my sidebar. They’re all there as I write this. In the last seven days, those three posts have made up about a fifth of my total views.

While no one has really posted anything negative on The Pros & Cons Of Dog Ownership, and only a few people have told me I’m whiny/get over it on The Worst Products For Left-Handed People, by far, the most vitriol I get is on Tattoo Trends That Should Stop.

Other than the regular readers who commented when I first posted it, nearly every comment I’ve gotten since is full of hate, some of it not even directed at me:

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This didn’t get approved.

It got so bad that I added an author’s note in blue at the top, but people still ignore it:

Author’s note: I’m not sure why so many of you care what I think and troll me on it. I’ve had a bunch of strangers call me out, because people should be able to get any tattoo they want. You know what? I AGREE. This post is about trends, as in people getting tattoos just because they’re trendy. I have no problem with people getting any tattoo for personal reasons. That’s pretty much what I said in the previous paragraph, but no one reads intros I guess, so I’m spelling it out here.

I haven’t approved most of the comments I’ve gotten since they are akin to “shut up, dumb bitch,” and “I hope you die from a dirty tattoo needle.” Sadly, I’m not exaggerating. Someone actually said that.

Strangers read a random post on the internet and feel the need to threaten someone they don’t know over it. There’s a sense of anonymity on the internet that allows people to behave badly without any repercussions. They won’t even stick around for a reply. They just spew their hate and move on to the next victim.

I got this comment yesterday:

I want to start a blog list of blogs that should stop. Number one is people blogging about subjects they are completely ignorant about. If you don’t like tattoos don’t get them. Yes there are some tired designs out there. I know very well as I am an artist and a shop owner. A good artist can steer people toward a better alternative. Ive done all of these tattoos before, but I use my creative license to make it unique and attractive. Doing your research to find a quality artist and talking it over with them is how you avoid the tired repetitive pintest-saturated tattoo designs. So many of your reasons stated are simply not true. I’ve seen portrait tattoos that are 20 years old that look fantastic. Good artists will know where tattoos will have the best longevity. But I’m really glad you put your worthless two cents on the web for all to read.

My first instinct with comments like that is to reply with snark:

Well, bully for you, Mr. fancypants tattoo artist/shop owner. To paraphrase what you said about tattoos: if you don’t like my post, don’t read it. Thanks ever so much for calling me worthless and ignorant. Most kind.

My second instinct is to reply for the nth time that the commenter missed the point of the post that I so clearly spelled out in the author’s note, but it’s gotten so that I don’t even care.

At least Mr. Swanky Britches up there seems to have read the post, which is more than I can say for most. A lot of people don’t read posts and they especially don’t read intros. They will get the gist of something, or at least what they think is the gist, and then comment with whatever they feel is germane based on their own world view, regardless of actual intent or meaning.

If comments threaten me or someone else, or if they just spew hate, I don’t approve them. If they call me ignorant and worthless, but also add post-related words like Mr. Spiffy Knickers did, I approve them and just let them sit there unanswered.

That post is about tattoo trends. It’s not life or death. It’s not important nor factual information. It is an opinion, mine, and if you don’t like it, you’re most welcome to politely disagree and tell me why, but do not come here with hate and expect an answer. There is no answer to hate.

Why would you threaten someone you don’t even know over an opinion on tattoos? I mean, really. If you disagree with me, there are plenty of other things to read. Lawd knows, the internet isn’t short on opinions. Go find someone you agree with and high five each other. Leave me out of it.

Having a post go viral is no guarantee of success anyway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from fishing-village viral, and even from being Freshly Pressed four times, it’s that the vast majority of people don’t click around to the rest of your blog to see what’s what. They read (or scan) what they came here to read and move on. Readers of Freshly Pressed are way nicer than the rest of the internet, I can tell you that much.

So, no, I don’t want to go viral. I’d rather build an audience the regular way. I’ve even considered taking the tattoo post down altogether, but it seems like the coward’s way out. They’re my words posted there and I have to stand by them, whether people want me to die over them or not.

Have you ever gone viral, even in a small way? How was the experience for you? Have you gotten death threats before?