Alone in a Crowd
For those who mourn on Twitter
Sometimes, there’s no mystery about how something goes viral on Twitter. Certain accounts have it down to a science, deliberately curating and churning out eye-catching pics and vids for clickbait. Occasionally, you could have sworn you saw that particular pic or vid last year, because you probably did. It’s likewise no great mystery if the viral tweet comes from a user who already has a decent-sized platform as a writer, comedian, or “influencer.” If your tweets are already routinely getting hundreds or thousands of likes, it’s not hard to see how you might occasionally have a “hit” tweet with tens or hundreds of thousands.
More mysterious and entertaining are the viral tweets from no-name accounts who just happen to make an especially clever joke, uncover an especially striking factoid, tell an especially inspiring story, etc. How did they catch this lightning in a bottle? Nobody knows. It was fun while it lasted. Here’s a link to their Soundcloud!
But there’s another, much sadder category of viral tweet. At the risk of sounding cold by giving it a label, I’ll call this “the grief tweet.” Here’s a recent example, from a Ukrainian-born woman named Jenn. Until a few days ago, Jenn used Twitter essentially like Instagram, plugging her small art business, sharing inspirational tidbits, closing every tweet with at least three hashtags. Then tragedy struck in the sudden death of her husband. She tweeted a picture of him with a simple expression of shock and grief, asking whoever is reading to “please keep me in your prayers or thoughts.” A little later, she made the tweet linked above, which as I write has been viewed about 9 million times and received over 60,000 likes in a couple of days. (The original tweet with a picture has also received about 50,000 likes—it’s unclear which one took off first.) She asks, “Is anyone around this late to talk to a stranger? My name is Jenn. My husband died yesterday. I need … some kind of guidance or a way to make it to tomorrow and then the day after. I had to identify him, get his belongings. I am just sitting here in the dark. What do I do?”