I've been a fairly active user on the dumpster fire that is Twitter dot com since 2008, when the site was just shy of a year old and tweets could be posted using SMS text messaging or embedded under the 'About Me' section of your MySpace page. In the 10 years that I had been shitposting, ranting, and thirst-tweeting at Bruce Springsteen, I'd never had a tweet go viral.
One Sunday afternoon, I decided to tweet a screencap of a one-sided conversation between me and a fine young gentleman - who we'll refer to as Dudebro McYeehaw - that, as that Anchorman meme goes, escalated rather quickly.
CONSERVATIVE MAN: a play in two acts pic.twitter.com/JvWbzFse9n-- lauren milici (@motelsiren) July 15, 2018
Here's a list of the fun things that happen when you go viral on Twitter (well, the fun things that happened to ME).
1. Your mentions become a snake pit.
Everyone has an opinion, sure, but especially straight white males who desperately need you to know what a coldhearted bitch you are for not texting that nice boy back right away. You'll also receive hundreds upon hundreds of tweets demanding you that post the timestamps of your conversation so that these sweet, sweet men can decide whether or not you truly deserved to be insulted.
2. You go up about a thousand followers, and now the pressure is ON.
Does this mean you can't shitpost anymore? Has Bruce Springsteen seen your tweet? How many celebrities (that you actually admire) saw your viral tweet, scrolled through the rest of your timeline, and decided to pass on giving you a follow? You have no idea, but the thought alone is enough to leave you sweating under your desk while curled up in the fetal position.
3. You plug your Cash App link, and only receive $15.
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Over the span of two days, your tweet has hit 140k likes! If each person Venmo-d you a dollar, you'd be able to pay off your student loans AND take your family on a trip to Fiji. Some people find it gauche to ask for money on social platforms, but honestly - why not? I'm bringing a smile to your face and putting out a tip jar - if you wanna throw a buck in, cool. If not, also cool (although LESS cool, obviously). I don't think there's a single person on this planet who would object to being given money in exchange for making others smile.
Instead, a nice lawyer sends you $10 for "fun at Planned Parenthood" and an angry conservative woman charges you $6 for "wasting her goddamn time."
4. That dude from high school who body-shamed you into an eating disorder starts following you.
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Congratulations! You're finally worthy! Watch as he quietly scrolls through your feed and likes only the bikini selfies you've posted. Forget the links you've posted to published works or witty commentary on current events in pop culture - you're finally hot enough to be looked at! Good on ya.
5. Random men start using the contact page on your website...to send you their poetry.
Estrada Anton / Shutterstock
I see you write, goes the email. I am a writer, too. Your tweet was funny. Here is a link to my blog. ;) You're not sure what to do with this, so you refresh your inbox. Suddenly, three more of these emails pop up. Then, two more. Some of the emails ask for feedback. One of the emails contains a mini-analysis of a recent poem you've published in a literary magazine complete with a full critique of the way you use sex and "vulgarity" in your work. Suddenly, you are immensely grateful that Gmail comes with a "block user" function.
6. You make it to Reddit.
Big Tuna Online / Shutterstock
In fact, you find your tweet on several Reddit threads, and are deathly afraid to read the comments. During a quick skim, it seems that most users are your side. The others, however, insist that you're a mega bitch from Planet Whore for not replying to this young man who clearly just wanted spend time with you. You can't escape.
7. People you haven't spoken to in years start asking to retweet their clothing line/Soundcloud/Youtube channel/Kickstarter/GoFundMe etc.
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Hey! How are you? It's been a while, huh? I noticed you have, like, a pretty good following on Twitter. Can you retweet my Boyfriend Does My Makeup Challenge video? It only has five views and I'm really trying to get started with this whole vlogging thing. Hope you're well!
Yeah. f**k off, Gabby.
8. You become a meme.
Suddenly, there's a hundred new tweets that say, "Have fun at Planned Parenthood!" and you notice that people you don't even follow are using it as an Instagram caption. It's only a matter of time before FuckJerry crops out your username and posts it on his Facebook page. What's next? Redbubble shirts? Enamel pins?
9. People actually start listening to your podcast.
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I mean, that's pretty cool. One of your cohosts refuses to believe that the sudden influx of followers has anything to do with your newfound Twitter fame and instead insists that they are all bots that are out for revenge following the recent "bot account purge" - but can't seem to find an excuse for the sudden increase in episode plays. It's almost ike...it was you? But you decide to just let him have it.
By the way, here's my podcast. Check it out! I'm taking advantage of this moment and am NOT going to apologize for it!
10. Some neckbeard finds the Marvel is better than DC tweet you posted in 2009.
Because, how dare you. I mean, you were barely 16 when you held this opinion and really, truly couldn't be bothered to give anything that even remotely resembles a f**k, but sure, dude, go off. Of course, it's amusing for all of five minutes until he decides to shout "Neckbeards: Assemble!" into the Twitter void and they start flooding your mentions like some desperate plague. Where did they all come from? And why do they keep coming back even after you block them? What war have you started? What have you done?
Honestly, on some level, it felt appropriate - this all started with a dude being shitty, aggressive, and awful, so why try to break that cycle now? While plenty of people were empathetic and supportive, plenty more saw me daring to point out some of the gross behavior that is ALL TOO COMMON amongst certain men as some kind of attack on them, personally, and felt the need to disparage and dismiss (and other "dis" words) me.
Lucky for me, Twitter dot com comes with a handy dandy "mute this conversation" button and I have since put an end to the constant flood of retweets and replies. As for everything else...it's, uh, out of my hands. In the meantime, if you someone selling a tee shirt online that says, "Have fun at Planned Parenthood," you can bet on the fact that I'll be somewhere in the comment section, demanding a royalty check.