I’ve been putting off writing this for months for many reasons. Mainly though, because I was so sick of the whole thing back in March/April that I didn’t really want anything else to do with it for a while. But it seems to be the tweet that won’t die, especially since the Archbishop of Banterbury meme account reshared it again recently for no apparent reason and it all kicked off once more, I thought I’d get it all out there. I’d often wondered which of my carefully thought out, researched and making an important socio-economic point blog posts would be the one to go viral. Turns out all it took was a tweet I sent after two glasses of wine about some daffodils in the fridge that would do it.
Here’s the story for anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock and isn’t up to speed. Back in March I ordered some flowers on the normal weekly Asda shop because I like having fresh flowers in the house. The fact they were daffodils was purely seasonal, I normally get carnations to be honest. But anyway, I couldn’t find them when unpacking the shopping with Dave, assumed they’d forgotten to send them, which happens from time to time, went online, took about a millisecond out of my day, and got an auto-refund. Which happens all the time.
Then I thought nothing of it until the Saturday after (the shopping arrived on Thursday night) and Dave was getting something out the fridge and noticed the flowers in there, which he’d thought were spring onions. Oh how we laughed. I thought it was a mildly amusing story so shared it on Twitter to my less than 1000 followers. It raised a chuckle, got a few likes and the odd retweet. Then I thought nothing of it.
That’s until I woke up the next morning and it had been retweeted about 100 times. That’s odd for me, literally anything I tweet normally gets 10 or so likes, max. It slowly grew over the day and by the Monday morning, I think it’s safe to say it went viral. I had many a newspaper and radio station emailing me, DM-ing me on twitter, private messaging me on Facebook etc asking for me ‘story’. There was no story. That was the story, there in the 140 characters. Next thing you know, Specsavers are sending me flowers and Holly and Phil are talking about us on This Morning. Bonkers man.
To date, the original tweet has been retweeted 6048 times, received 886 comments and liked 88.6k (thousand!!!) times. But what has the whole thing taught me?
There’s a few details I left out the tweet. The daffodils arrived in one of those flimsy plastic bags you get meat in sometimes, they weren’t just out with the label showing like in the picture. Hence why they looked even more like spring onions.
People will pick apart everything you say if enough people see it. If I’d known it was going to go viral, rather than acquire the usual 10 likes, I wouldn’t have phrased the tweet the way that I did. I didn’t really complain to get a refund, I used an automatic system which requires no human intervention whatsoever. I didn’t give anyone a bollocking, no one lost their job, I wasn’t being a Karen.
The British media can twist the same story a billion different ways depending on their audience. For example, when This Morning ran the story, it was a cute ‘and finally’ bit. Lad Bible were also very sweet in their write up of it. When the Daily Mail ran the story though, the headline may as well have been ‘Woman forgot her place in the kitchen and allows her husband to put the shopping away ending in disaster’ and the story in the Daily Star practically said ‘idiot man puts daffodils in the fridge’.
But the main thing I learnt, is that people, particularly young-ish, football following men with less than 100 followers are absolute dicks. The amount of people who focussed on the fact I got a £1 refund is astonishing. And the language they used whilst tagging me in to their responses even more astonishing. Yeah the ‘C’ word is funny when Ricky Gervais uses it for comedic affect, not so funny when you’re being called it 50 times an hour for something so daft. Some people take their daffodils so seriously it seems.
I’ve had a good chat about this with friends and family, about the fact that most of the hate seemed to have come from a similar cohort of people. Not all of course, I don’t want to generalise, but the majority for sure. It’s made me keep a closer eye on accounts like Ladbible and Archbishop of Banterbury to see how other stories are reacted to. And you can bet your bottom dollar, no matter how heart warming or innocent the story, someone will have something nasty to say. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that these people just think it’s banter, I mean, it’s not very funny, but they haven’t managed to develop any kind of empathy, the poor loves, and probably don’t have much joy in their lives, so have to pass negative comment on everything because they like the sound of themselves having an opinion.
Credit where it’s due; Twitter were great. I’d reported a couple of some of the really nasty replies and gotten them deleted. But very quickly I got a message on my twitter app along the lines of ‘you’re getting much more attention than you usually do and we’ve picked up on some bad language, would you like us to help you manage your notifications?’ to which I was like er, yes please! And they gave me an option to only be able to see notifications from people I followed back. And no one I didn’t follow could DM me, which mean the sneaky red top journos who were asking for ‘my side of the story’ could now sod off.
Now look, I could dwell on the negatives all day and moan about how going viral wasn’t all that I expected and all it really did was cause about a fortnight of severe anxiety and worry that at the least I was being laughed at and at the worse I might get fired from my job. And I have done all of those things.
*Content warning* the next part of this post may be upsetting for some
Then my internet friend David told me the story of Jani Lane, lead singer of the Rock band Warrant who you may know from the stripper anthem Cherry Pie. Despite being in a glam rock band Jani Lane was actually an incredibly talented musician from a really young age. He was under pressure to come up with a radio friendly hit on Warrant’s second album and wrote Cherry Pie in 15 minutes on the back of a pizza box. The song blows up and to quote Jani himself:
All of a sudden the album’s called cherry pie, the record’s called cherry pie, I’m doing cherry pie eating contests. If I’m lying I’m dying, and my legacy is Cherry Pie, everything about me is Cherry pie, I’m the Cherry Pie guy. And I could shoot myself in the fucking head for writing that song
Sadly in 2011, Jani Lane was found dead in his hotel room from acute alcohol poisoning; he literally drank himself to death.
And my point of all of all of this, is kind of what I said at the beginning. You don’t get to choose what goes viral, the internet will decide that for you. So I can either delete the tweet, and pretend it never happened, and be angry and ashamed and upset. Or I can embrace it, and laugh along with it and just be pleased that Dave now has a sound clip of Holly Willoughby talking about him, I got a lovely bunch of flowers from Specs Savers, the new followers I gained from the tweet generated enough traffic to my blog to make my AdSense account almost double overnight, and despite the ‘don’t have anything nice to say’ brigade, I made a few people laugh and my friends thought I was famous for a fortnight. The latter sounds like the much happier choice to me.
If I were to go viral again I would definitely take what I’ve learnt from this experience and cope with it way better the next time. I would laugh it all off and take it for what it was. And I definitely wouldn’t read the comments.
The funniest thing of all? I don’t think the daffodils in the fridge suffered very much, they actually lasted a good few weeks after being chilled for a bit so perhaps that’s the secret