This is the true story of one person with a relatively low profile on Twitter and what happened when one of their tweets went viral. That one person is me.
I vacillate between Twitter and Facebook on a consistent basis. At times, I can’t stand one, so I spend more time on the other, or vice versa. With Twitter, it can be an overload of information due to the format, and sometimes too much of an echo chamber. It’s difficult to sort things out, and conversations can be hard to follow. But I decided to go back on 1 June to see what was going on, and due to Trump’s announcement that he was pulling the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, Twitter was more lively than ever.
Checking in on The Weather Channel’s website to get a look at the weekend forecast, I noticed, before even setting my location, something both unusual and amusing:
All the featured articles were focused on the various effects of climate change throughout the US and the world. I thought it was funny, particularly after so much bad news from our current administration, so I posted this tweet:
I stepped away from my desk to take a leak, and when I came back, I noticed several notifications from Twitter flashing on my phone. The tweet was getting quite a bit of interactions – and within an hour and a half, it had reached around 2500 retweets. For someone who gets excited when 3 people even respond to anything I post online, this was thrilling. Notifications continued to pour in, and I was completely blown away with the mileage this simple screenshot was getting.
Shortly thereafter, the notifications were coming in faster than I could keep up with them, and even leaving my phone set for a while was draining the battery due to all the activity. I found myself annoyed, and changed a few settings to cut down on the notifications. Finding replies from my Twitter friends was difficult among the noise, even with changing additional settings. Eventually, I stopped looking, because it was both overwhelming and the Twitter app was crashing on my phone. At one point, there were 99+ unseen notifications and I began to actively resent even posting the thing.
Once my initial annoyance had passed, I started reading some of the responses and that’s when I realized that going viral was a giant pain in the ass. All manner of opinion crawled out of the woodwork, mostly people’s feelings on the veracity of climate change and a whole lot of Trump supporters. Here are some of my favorites:
The Stand Up Comics: there were literally HUNDREDS of variations on this tweet. It wasn’t even funny as a joke the first time, not to mention showing a clear lack of understanding the subtle differences between climate and weather. Dear everyone who tweeted this at me: let me know your thoughts on airline food sometime, will you?
The Eternal Pessimists: several people tweeted their gloom and doom in regards to this. Here’s an extreme example, but there were quite a few of these of varying degree. I’m a disgusting optimist at heart, for better or worse, and these tweets just made me so depressed. This one felt especially over the top, though, bordering on comedy. Here’s another cheerful series of tweets (read from the bottom up):
Oh, here’s a good one:
Points for the fart joke, but T. rex was killed by a meteor, so checkmate meteors.
Oh, right. Here’s these two:
“If god real why come episiotomy” indeed! I wish Karey and toiletbones all the best on their impending nuptials.
This is only a fraction of the crap that was in my Twitter mentions.
As of this writing, I’m still getting several notifications, although they’ve largely died down over the weekend. What started out as an exhilarating experience quickly became confusing and eventually supremely uncomfortable. Frankly, I can’t imagine how people would deal with this on a regular basis, and I’m very thankful I didn’t get harassed or threatened, which is a very real thing that happens on Twitter every day. Thousands of retweets is something no average person or mobile phone is equipped to deal with. And when I say thousands, I mean it:
I think the moral of this story is: NEVER TWEET.