Most people who know me well know I love Hamilton, and one of the themes I love most about the musical is Alexander Hamilton’s use of the written word to inspire revolution, change, and to build his own legacy. I’m no Alexander Hamilton, but this week has taught me that my writing can make a difference and cause people to think, and even change.
Last Friday, I had about thirty minutes before I needed to wake Nolan from his nap to pick up Charlotte from preschool. The day before, the House had voted to pass their version of the American Health Care Act and the Republicans were day-drinking to celebrate a bill that suddenly made my child’s future even more uncertain. My friend Kyla, who wrote an amazingly articulate and well-researched post that went viral on the original AHCA bill, commented on a picture of Grayson I had posted on Facebook.
“They better keep the phrase ‘pro-life’ off their lips after this; they voted for government-sanctioned death.”
Her comment stuck with me, and I began to think about all the ways the Republican bill directly contradicted their claimed “Pro-Life” stance. I thought about posting a picture to social media with my thoughts, but I kept thinking of more points. So that Friday, in about 20 minutes, watching the clock so I wasn’t late for pick-up, I pounded out a short, 350 word post. I read over it quickly for typos, added a picture, hit Publish, and shared it publicly on Facebook.
I figured my post would cause a mild stir among my Facebook friends- some would love it, but some would surely be offended and hate it. I literally had no idea what was about to happen.
That afternoon, Charlotte and I rode up with my parents to the ranch, and I noticed that my post was being shared quite a bit by friends. All weekend, I watched the Share numbers rise, but I didn’t think until Sunday to check my pageviews (because this is a tiny little blog that makes no money, so who cares, right?). I was absolutely blown away to see that it had been viewed 8,000 times, twice as many as my previous most popular post.
The next day, I continued to be shocked (and honestly a little freaked out) at how my pageviews and FB shares were rapidly climbing. The blog started getting lots of comments, and I read each one. One comment was from a Senior Editor at The Huffington Post, saying they would love to republish the post if I was interested. I emailed her, and she gave me instructions. I tweaked the post a little bit to give some background on Grayson, and they published it that afternoon. It was featured the next day on both the main HuffPost as well as HuffPost Parents Facebook pages.
As I am sitting here writing this post, my pageviews just hit over 1.5 MILLION on the original post published on this blog (I don’t have a way of seeing stats on the HuffPost). Between the original post and the HuffPost version, it’s been shared on Facebook 55,000 times.
So, it’s been a crazy week in my blogging life. I’ve always secretly wanted to write a post that would go viral, and I find it super hilarious and weird that the one that did was such an off-the-cuff, last minute brain dump. This may (probably will) be the only time this happens, so I wanted to document my experience of “going viral”.
- Above all, it’s pretty damn cool. I’ll be honest, I’m excited. It’s been fun to refresh my blog stats and watch the numbers climb.
- I’m so proud that literally millions of people have seen my precious son and know a little of his story. I hope that the message of my post impacted even a few people and led them to think about the terms “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” in a different way. And actually I’ve had several people tell me they “never thought about it like this before.”
- It’s unnerving. This blog is where I’ve poured my heart out for 7 years, and there’s a ton of personal, emotional thoughts in it. I more than doubled my total pageviews for the blog in just one week. The fact that in one week, a million and a half people (most of them new readers) clicked onto my little space on the internet feels strange, and vulnerable.
- I’ve been really self conscious about my writing on the original post, mostly because it was/is so raw and with so little editing. The sentences are really long- a big no-no in journalism. But, I guess it resonated with a ton of people, so I’m trying not to pick my writing apart too much.
- I realized that I have a really thick skin when it comes to negative comments and trolls. And oh, the trolls. The advice is “Never read the comments.” Well, I read a lot of them. And mostly I just shook my head and rolled my eyes at the most vile. To be honest, the silence of some people who I am closest too hurts way more than any stranger lashing out on me on Facebook.
- I learned that there are A LOT of people who have weak reading comprehension skills and completely missed the point of my post. “What kind of a mother wishes she would have aborted her baby?” (Ummm….not what I said. At all).
- My favorite (negative) comment was from a woman who told me that my child being on Medicaid was theft and it was the same as coming into her house and robbing her. That I should ask my church and set up a GoFundMe to pay for G’s medical bills. She even said if I set one up, she’d contribute at least $100. People are nuts.
- This experience has both reignited my passion for writing as well as my resolve to keep fighting and resisting the political shit-show that is going on in our country right now. There’s too much on the line for me personally as well as for millions of Americans for me to be silent.