The Loh Life

It's A SMAD, SMAD, SMAD, SMAD World, Part Two: Viral-ish

Sandra Tsing Loh continues to accept social media.

Something very disturbing is happening.

It's bad enough that I just joined Twitter.  I am a confused middle-aged person from the era of the typewriter and the dial phone.  But, I am also half in the new world.  I was enjoying an op-ed in The New York Times in bed the other day, and when I got to the bottom I actually leaned forward with my finger out to "like"... this article, on this sheet of newsprint.

I'm also a book author, and - for us - as well as songwriters, cakemakers, realtors, automotive mechanics, used car dealers, sellers of vitamin pills, camembert cheese, Dannon Yogurt, PTA moms, Dr. Oz, and, apparently, based on the constant missives I get from the Democratic party, President Obama... "Put this out on social media" is a ubiquitous command.

So, we are all doing it, just for the sake of doing it, because of a vague notion that "something will go viral."  Right.  Supposedly that phrase describes some thought or "meme" so universal it is instantly "re-tweeted" by 20 million people.  What some of us are saying when we use that phrase, though, is, "I have no idea what I am talking about."  Something cannot go viral if, like me, you only have 29 followers, who themselves are unsure how to tweet.  "Oh, is it the feather?" asked a director friend of mine recently.  She had just joined, at the urging of her local theatre company - even though no theatre subscriber I've ever met in my life even knows what Twitter is.  "Feather?  Pound sign?"  We are at best amateur virologists whose experiments only harm ourselves.

So, I regarded it as a joke, my "artisanal" Twitter feed - Indeed, a couple of friends and I made deals to both "follow" each other and also to not tweet anything, so no one would be miffed if the other people forgot to retweet.  We knew we would forget, given that we were only doing this so that when our employers said, "Put this out on social media" we could say, truthfully, that we had - We had taken one for the team!

But then, an article came out mentioning the fact that I only had 29 people following me on Twitter, and overnight I gained, I'm not kidding, 1000 new people.  1000!  I could see the number ticking up hourly.  It was heady!  I was viral...ish!  Oh, no!  Did I need to start actually tweeting?

Next week: Suddenly I Need Five Arms.


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