Going Viral

        Some of my blog posts are brilliant, erudite, effulgent exquisitions (which is not even a word!) on important and weighty philosophical and political matters of the day. This, is not one of those. This is just a little slice o’life about my life on the internet. If you are looking for deep, go read Henry Kissinger’s Blog.
       I always wondered what it would be like to “Go Viral.” People who knew me in college were sure I’d go viral, but that was a totally different context involving penicillin and a 12-step program requiring apologies to everyone I asked to the prom. In the context of the Internet, I had always been interested in saying, doing, or inventing one thing that would sweep the world the way religious conversion did during the Spanish Inquisition, but using fewer heated pokers in people’s eyes.
      For a time, I actually tried to stage the sort of things that seem to go viral. I knew finding religious icons burnt into grilled cheese sandwiches usually worked. Once, I did actually order “aged Gouda on sour dough” with a face on it that could have been a young Buddha. But he was very skinny and had a handle-bar mustache, so I wasn’t sure.
       I’d also heard that dogs singing along with music seemed to have some legs. So I got a small Puggle and played Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” over and over again, on account of—you know—dogs liking Jethro Tull. And I’d stand right in front of that dog for hours. “Sing Fido, you #$%@*$. Sing!” But the most I could manage to get out of that dog was a sustained growl and an incontinence problem.
     But internet fame, like falling in love and leprosy, it happens when you least expect it. I had organized a press conference about the Voter ID bill and, specifically, about House Majority Leader Turzai’s refreshingly candid admission that the Republicans had passed Voter ID to help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania.
        It is not the purpose of this blog to relitigate the Voter ID Bill. However, it is worth noting that the following things are far more common than Voter Impersonation in PA. For example:
 1. Being struck by lightening…twice…in one day…on your birthday…while holding a winning lottery ticket…and wearing a “I Wonder If I’ll Get Struck By Lightning Twice Today?” t-shirt.
 2. Growing a goiter that looks like Queen Elizabeth
 3. Meeting Brad Pitt
 4. Being Brad Pitt
 5. Finding a Van Gough in your attic
 6. Finding Van Gough in your attic.
      In any event, during the press conference, I was so inspired by Representative Turzai’s candor that I decided to use some candor of my own. I brushed aside my usual meticulous attention to social niceties and said, “If you have to stop people from voting to win elections, your ideas suck.” I knew this was jarring, but no other word in my lexicon (including “lexicon”) captured the outrage I felt at this utterly cynical law.
      The next day my quote predictably appeared in virtually every paper in the state. But then my staff told me that the blogosphere and the Twitterverse were exploding. I had no idea what they were talking about. I assumed they were playing Strip Dungeons & Dragons again (I encourage a social and light-hearted office environment).
        My staff explained that thousands of people were Tweeting, Facebooking and blogging about ideas sucking. My Google Alert was going crazy. I was a leading trend and was being invited onto numerous national TV shows. Then, one of my staffers called breathlessly to say that I was the “number one topic in the world in “Reddit.com”. I had no idea what any of this meant. Again. Me. Dork. But my staff patiently explained it to me, using small words, graphs drawn in crayon, and sock puppets: I had gone viral.
        VIRAL!?!?!   I had gone viral!! No more inspecting every grilled cheese for Jesus! No more euthanizing dogs who won’t sing! (Um…I owe PETA a phone call). Soon I began to realize just how weird the whole “viral” thing is. I got word that several websites were selling T-shirts with various designs using the “Sucks” meme. People were selling coffee mugs, hats, and throw rugs saying “…your ideas suck.”
       There was also internet push-back. Blog articles started appearing dedicated to the proposition that their ideas do not, in fact, suck. Even more jarring, several articles appeared with only one message: “Daylin Leach Sucks” (yes mom, I saw it). While I am far too close to the situation to accurately assess how much I do—or do not—suck, I would just offer one thought: if you find yourself setting up a “Daylin Leach Sucks” website, you really ought to look into a dating service.
       Sadly, just as I was getting used to being an international celebrity with a Leo DiCaprio-sized posse, the fervor ended. Two days after my press conference, and the day after my viral debut, the US Supreme Court handed down its health care decision. My Google Alerts calmed down, and I was replaced on the top of Reddit.com by a drunk baby.
        So what’s the take-away from all of this? I still have the same wardrobe and hairline as I did before all of this happened. About 750,000 Pennsylvanians, who took the time to register to vote, still won’t be able to cast their vote this November. So perhaps, as Shakespeare said, it was all sound and fury signifying nothing. But the T-Shirts do look awesome!
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