This Is How It Feels to Have 40,000 Views in One Week
The experiences of an introvert whose writing went semi-viral
I love reading about the dark side of the world. True crime and conspiracy theories are favorite topics of mine to explore for fun. I especially enjoy debunking conspiracy theories and acting as an armchair detective for missing person cases.
On the week of July 6, 2020, I decided to write about some of my findings and see if my readers would enjoy learning about these cases. More importantly, I wanted to know if I enjoyed writing about them.
On July 8, I wrote an article debunking a conspiracy theory that the furniture company Wayfair was trafficking young girls via their website. On July 11, I wrote another article about the YouTube channel “The Soft White Underbelly” and whether or not it was exploitative.
I never thought these articles would garner so much attention for me, a small-town girl from Atlantic Canada.
Combined, these articles had over 40,000 external views in one week. I am not someone who enjoys attention and this new public interest in my Medium work really freaked me out.
I know this is a small number of views to some top writers on this platform but to me, it was huge.
I was humbled that so many people were reading my writing but conspiracy theories bring out a very different crowd, especially when you're debunking them. Some people want to believe these theories are true and when their claims are challenged with real evidence, it really upsets them.
The Soft White Underbelly has a very loyal fanbase, so I also received some haters from this article as well. Someone even made a YouTube video talking about my article.
I really disliked this type of attention.
I wanted to be known for my great writing (even if it’s only by four people), not known for writing salacious content that spikes animosity in readers.
I have never believed in being controversial or divisive to get attention.
I wrote those pieces because I wanted to try creating something new but the response was way too intense for me to handle.
In the early days of my semi-viral “fame”, I was a mess. I barely slept, the pain from my chronic illness flared up, and I worried about the safety of my family.
This may be a small-scale number of views to some people, but it really rattled me. I reached out to an acquaintance of mine who is a rapper and went viral (millions of views) on YouTube and asked her for advice.
She didn’t have much for me: She wanted and expected that type of attention, which is cool. She deserves all of the success, but I have no idea how she does it.
I talked to my husband and he suggested that I make some changes to make myself feel safe. I changed my name on Medium to a pen name and my profile picture to an avatar.
Now, let me say, I know I was completely overreacting. However, I felt like all of the people reading my work were right in my home with me and it felt very icky.
I am obviously not built for fame.
I would get an aching feeling whenever I checked my stats and saw it increased by another 4,000 views that day. Truthfully, the stress may have been worth it if they were internal views because at least I get paid for those.
Something good did come from my Wayfair article. Two of the young women who were listed as “missing” and “trafficked” in the conspiracy theory contacted me on Twitter.
They told me their stories, which were eerily similar: They were briefly missing years ago, and a stranger used their old missing person posters to push the narrative of the Wayfair conspiracy theory.
These young women and their families were being harassed and were terrified that their safety was at risk.
They both thanked me for my article that exposed the theory as false, and I promised to let my readers know that they were not missing and to leave them alone.
So I guess I did help someone.
Thankfully the views peaked at 90,000 and calmed down after a couple of months with the exception of some spikes here and there.
It Could Happen to You
You could write a piece and not think much of it, then wake up to thousands of views. But if you’re anything like me, the large scale attention will be overwhelming.
Medium ranks pretty well on the Google algorithm and if you write about a trending topic, your article could go viral or semi-viral.
For what it’s worth, I learned a few lessons from this experience.
I learned how to handle negative comments. I discovered that this type of reaction is a normal part of putting your art into the world, whether we like it or not.
I learned that I can make a difference with my writing and to be mindful of what I’m putting out into the universe because anyone could read it.
I also learned that I never want to be famous.
Amy Sarah is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.