Nerdy Apple Bottom wrote a post. About her son. As many parenting bloggers are wont to do. And she posted it on her blogas well as BlogHer, and 44,000+ comments later, people are still talking about her son's Daphne costume. Except now that it is on CNN, Forbes, and the newspapers around the country, the discussion is no longer about whether or not her son should wear a Daphne costume to school for Halloween, but has crossed the line into critiquing Nerdy Apple Bottom's parenting in general.
Forbes called the post a "lesson in bad mommy blogging." The Star Ledger pointed out the disturbing comments on the post. And a child psychologist on CNN praised and slammed Nerdy Apple Bottom at the same time (seriously, Mr. Gardere, you need to control your facial commentary).
She appeared on the TODAY show to discuss both the post and the backlash:
But in the aftermath of all of this, BlogHer wanted to know how one processes it emotionally when a personal blog post goes viral, and suddenly, it's not your friends telling you what they think, but the entire world.
When she wrote the post, she had no idea it would reach such a large audience. She explains,
I had no idea. I generally have about a dozen readers. I do use NetworkedBlogs on Facebook so my posts show up on there. But even with that, I thought maybe a few dozen might read it.
She admitted that she didn't spend hours crafting the post. Instead, "It took me about 10 minutes with the shorties running amok, a quick reread to check for errors, and then I published." After she posted, it felt cathartic to get it off her chest, and she thought it would end there.
And then people started reading it and the comments started pouring in -- almost 45,000 comments in all. Newspapers started to write about it, and she appeared via phone or live on a handful of television shows. She admits that the response the piece got was mostly positive with a few loud negative comments thrown in as well.
I would say 98% has been positive. Overwhelmingly so. There are so many people from all over the world and from all walks off life that have contacted me. It is mind-boggling to me how this post resonated with so many. Of course, there were the dissenters. Some very vocal. Some incredibly mean and hateful. Fortunately, I am okay with that. I know that there will be people that disagree with me on many things. I just wish we could disagree in a more respectful manner.
But it wasn't just the content of the comments; it was the sheer number too. Until it happens, most think it would be lovely to receive 45,000 pieces of feedback, especially if 98% of it is supportive. But the reality of receiving that many comments is far from bliss:
I was freaked out, I'm not going to lie. And overwhelmed. To put it mildly. I used to moderate comments and get emailed when a comment posts. I had to turn that off within 24 hours as there were so many coming in so fast I couldn't keep up. After I realized just how big it was getting, I stopped trying to keep up with reading the response and started trying to wrap my mind around what was going on. I tried to focus on the fact that my little family story had in fact become an international one. That this had become much bigger than just my Boo and me.
Appearing on the television shows was a mixed bag of emotions too:
It feels bizarre and fantastic and heartbreaking and heartwarming. It is a testament to the good in the world that wants to spread a good message. It is also a case study in how quickly things can happen and how the big conversations can get started.
And this is a big conversation, one that is still continuing weeks later. And what can't be lost in all of this is that Nerdy Apple Bottom has given us a small slice of her life and we can only know what goes onto the screen. From there, we can look at the moment in hand, but we can't possibly know how she parents or who she is overall.
And that is an important point that needs to be part of this conversation as well -- not jumping from a single blog post and making it define the person as a whole. Nerdy Apple Bottom is so much more than a single Halloween costume. And yet, that single Halloween costume is indicative of what we can know from her writing: that she is broad-minded, confident, and not one to shy away from the tough questions or tough situations.
She ends with these thoughts on the emotional side of a blog post going viral:
It was very emotional. Having people comment on your parenting is certainly a personal thing. So many people out there that wished they had someone stand up for them, special needs, minorities, 'tomboys,' etc. I received a lot of stories that broke my heart. I just wanted to hug them all. And on the flip side, those that criticized were hurtful. Some were downright vindictive. Calling a 5-year-old boy a 'faggot' is never okay in my book, no matter how bad of a parent you think his mother is. But I think I've made it to a place where those things don't hurt so much. Too much good came out of this for me to linger on the tiny bit of negative. This story meant something to a whole lot of people. I'm glad to be a part of that.
Have you ever had a blog post go viral? Do you have a fairly large daily audience on your blog and are accustomed to having a broad range of readers? Does the emotional side of having a blog post go viral resonate with you?
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