What Happens When Your Picture Goes Viral

People love the idea of something going “viral”. Offers, stories, memes, quizzes- everybody wants to be “trending”. But there may be a reason only things like chicken pox have been “viral” before this age of the internet.

first day of school fun with label

In 2013, our kiddos (seen here) were going into K, 2nd and 3 year old Pre-School. We did all your classic pictures at the house, at the school, with their teachers (I even have a really good one of them all smiling- which is about like a golden unicorn), but this was the funny one. I saw someone else’s version of it on Pinterest (meaning I didn’t come up with this idea at all) and told the kids it would be funny. The boys thought it was hysterical and Sister was actually D.O.N.E. with taking pictures. We took 2 shots like this and then headed on our merry way to school.

Within minutes of my posting this on Facebook, there were hundreds of likes, then shares, then more likes and then major news media outlets re-posting it. All seemed funny and light-hearted in the morning. Then by the afternoon, the critics came out. The major switch comes when people who actually don’t know you, have the ability to judge you.

See, if you knew me, you would know that I’m actually pretty fun-loving AND kid-loving. And you would know that my kids are fully aware I’m goofy. And that I cried when they went back to school. But out of 40,000 or so views/ comments/ likes of the day we released this picture, I remember a couple stingers like, “I feel bad for those poor children” and “I’m actually really sad when my kids go back to school” and  “She should be ashamed of herself”, etc. Why is it that we remember the negative? 99% of people were able to laugh and “get” that this was a joke, but why, WHY are those snide remarks from strangers the ones I still remember?

nutella

I’m not going to go ALL Dr. Phil on you here, but it is nuts how we hear those criticisms and let those sink in, but not the supporting words. {Are y’all the same way? I believe this could preach, friends. But I would need to be the one listening to this sermon and not giving it!}

So, viral = entertaining, but there are always people who will not like you… unless you are Nutella.

P.S. This is really my jump; I’ve still got it… at least from that angle…

And this was voted al.com’s picture of the year in 2013. 

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Last fall at our store {Mint Julep Market in Huntsville, AL}, we had a shoplifter come in and brazenly steal a $200 purse on a Thursday evening. It was caught on camera at a great angle {thanks to my wonderful husband} and we posted the video to Facebook on Friday {with the go ahead from the police department}. What happened next is still unbelievable to me!

Wonderful people in the community- who were also appalled – commented, shared, reposted- at such an alarming rate- that we were the trending topic on Facebook! The local news stations called all day and I was interviewed and on 5 different news/ newspaper and radio stations within 24 hours {and for several days following that}. The person was identified within 36 hours, police were notified and the purse was returned. BOOM. Social media for the win.

But here’s how it felt from my side…

I watched the first interview on TV, but then didn’t watch any more. {This might have to do with the 30 extra pounds I had hanging around at the time and a zit that took center stage...} Strangers were literally high five-ing me in the produce section of the grocery store but I needed to get away from being recognized everywhere and just sat at home on that Friday night trying to reclaim normal. Jason and I ate guacamole on our sofa. {Really, that seems like a perfect Friday night any time in my book!} I didn’t answer my phone, I got hundreds of Facebook friend requests from strangers and people were calling/ texting/ emailing all the live long day.

Here’s the catch: while everyone was supportive, encouraging, loving, they still wanted a little piece of you {an interview, the inside scoop, more details, etc.}. There were small concerns about our safety- and the local police department was wonderful and supportive there- but at the time, there were a lot of uncertainties. I was so overwhelmingly grateful for the mass encouragement, but at the same time my heart was breaking for the thief. I know that sounds crazy, but her life was completely altered- because of her choices, of course, not mine– but I knew she had a problem.

Weeks went by, life somewhat returned to normal, but customers, strangers and new people I meet STILL ask about the situation {as in someone asked yesterday}! Also, I still tell them {like I’ll tell you, friends} that there are still pending pieces of the investigation, so I am not allowed to talk much. 😉

Here’s what you need to know about “going viral”:

1) Social Media= powerful. I’m not sure if our psyche is emotionally/ mentally prepared for the amazing power that we are using on a daily basis. It is just weird to be momentarily “famous”. It makes me really empathetic for people who ARE famous and have to deal with the constant attention/ criticism- or who crave that high.

2) Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to be seen on camera. We have told our children they are living in an age of cameras SO OFTEN that they asked if we have cameras in our house… and of course we told them we did. #goodparenting

3) Always clean your front porch. Or, for the love of Peter, at least have your wooden monogram showing on your front door when you might get to advertise to tens of thousands of people.

For the love.

XOXO,

Your every-now-and-again-“famous”-friend {who really likes guacamole instead of TV interviews}

Hillary

 

Hillary Dunham