When your blog post goes viral
When I wrote about people who misuse parent car-parking spaces, I hoped it would be popular among readers of my blog and my followers on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve had so many conversations with parent friends about their frustrations at never being able to find those extra wide spaces that enable them to get their children out of the car safely and without damaging the car next to them, so I hoped they would read it, nod in agreement and get on with their day.
I posted it on my Cardiff Mummy says Facebook page at 10.30pm on a Wednesday night. Within an hour, it’d had 500 views, about 15 people had commented on my Facebook page and several of my followers had shared it. When I checked my phone at 7am the following morning, it’d had about 1,000 more views. Brilliant, I thought, sympathising with all those parents who had been up in the middle of the night.
And then, my phone did not stop pinging for the next few hours, with comment after comment appearing on my Facebook page and my blog. The post was read over 7,000 times that day. In fact, each day that week, it was read by between 3,000 and 5,000 people. And every day for the following two weeks, too.
I usually get 15-20,000 views on my blog a month (edit July 2015: it’s about three times that now). People tell me that’s good going, especially as I’ve only been blogging for seven months, and especially because my blog is something I do in the evenings when my children are asleep, rather than a full-time job as it is for some bloggers. For the three weeks while my post was doing the rounds, I was getting around 18,000 to 20,000 views a week. Almost four weeks later, and it’s been read over 55,000 times in total and shared over 530 times on Facebook. It’s calmed down now, but I’m still getting 100 or so views a day on it.
It’s my most popular post ever, with more than double the amount of views of my next most popular post. (edit: second most popular post – this one on being a child of the 2010s is now in first position)
I won’t lie to you that I’m thrilled that so many people have read the article (especially as they are also clicking on other blog posts I’ve written too). So many bloggers say it’s not about viewing figures; it’s about writing because you love it. And yes, I love what I do, but as someone who has worked as a journalist for 15 years, of course I want people to read what I write. Otherwise I’d just keep a diary, or I would have carried on blogging in secret, like I did when I first started.
However, as the post got more widespread, some horrible things began to happen. I started getting nasty messages on my blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. I’m all for freedom of speech and I don’t have a problem when people don’t agree with me (in fact, one of my good friends and I have massively different opinions on everything, and I love that she isn’t afraid to challenge me). At first, most of those who had a problem with what I had written were polite about it, along the lines of “I get what you are saying, but…” However, some of the messages were so vile, I began to dread my phone pinging at me.
I haven’t deleted any of the unkind messages on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, I was humbled when my followers replied in my defence. It’s some of the ones posted on my blog, however, that I found most difficult to deal with. I have 10 nasty messages still sat in my “pending” file. All comments have to be approved by me before I publish them – and it’s my blog, so why would I want to approve such mean things?
I’ll give you a taster of some of the worst here.
“You made a conscious choice to have children, please deal with the consequences of this choice instead of expecting the world to bend around you. the fact that you have a child doesn’t mean the rest of the world should make allowances for your inability to perform basic tasks without a fanfare.”
Obviously this person hadn’t read the points I’d made in my blog. It’s not about expecting the world to bend around me; it’s about keeping my children safe and not damaging the cars around me… all the points I made in my blog. I didn’t respond, because I knew it would just end in more abusive messages.
There was also this one: “I’m sick of breeders thinking they have a different set of rights to the rest of us.Is there any reason why someone should be subject to a different set if rules just because they have a proven ability to breed?”
This comment came at the end of a ranting comment that was almost as long as my original post:
“you, your child and either of your needs are of little or no consequence to me and i’ve had quite enough of having to fit my needs in around those of you and your child”
This is my personal favourite though: “Shut the fuck up you whiny twint. Im going to 0ark there all I want. Font bring your crying little twat of a chile to the grocery store in the first place. Fuck off”
I’ve cut and pasted these comments exactly as they are; spelling mistakes are certainly not mine!
I didn’t not publish them because they disagreed with me. In fact, there were a couple of posts in support of my arguments which also remain unpublished. One told me they had become so incensed by someone parking in a parent space that they took a key to the side of the car and left a scratch. I in no way condone this behaviour, so refuse to allow this on my blog.
The response to this blog post has reminded me more than ever that putting things on the internet means they are out of our control. You have no idea who is sharing or reading your post. You have no idea what their intentions are. I’ve had several posts go a bit viral since starting my blog, but nothing as controversial as this. The big difference with this post is that it quickly left the friendly bubble of parents who are my usual audience. It made me thankful I made the decision not to put photos of my children on my blog, or even to name them.
As a journalist, I’ve had unkind and personal comments aimed at me for things I have written. In fact, a lot of journalists don’t “go below the line”, as we in the industry say, because commentators on certain websites are notorious for their vindictive and spiteful opinions. However, when it’s your own blog, it becomes a lot more personal. There’s no editor to delete or moderate the worst comments before you’ve seen them, for starters.
Interestingly, all the nastiest comments came from people who did not use a real name. I might have strong opinions, but I always have the conviction to stand by them. I wonder if people would be so rude and intimidating if they had their full name and profile picture next to their comment. I guess I’ve got off lightly though as other journalists and public figures have received death and rape threats from online commentators.
As I said, I’ve not published these comments on my blog, and I’m not entering into any discussions with the people who left them. But I wanted to write about my experiences here as I think people who read my blog deserve to know what goes on behind the scenes.
What would you have done in this situation? I’d love to know what you think. Those of you who are bloggers, have you ever had any nasty comments like this on your blog? What did you do?
Do let me know on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook group or tweet me on @cardiffmummy
I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I wrote a post on the same subject as this for an online magazine and like you, expected it to be read by fellow parents. Unfortunately it went wider than this and some of the comments were not particularly nice. It made me thankful that I didn’t put it on my personal blog and reminded me of the importance of not using my childrens photos or identities on there. It was a valuable lesson learnt as I don’t have the thick skin needed to deal with the controversy that putting yourself out there can create. Luckily the post that went viral from my blog a few months ago was a very funny one about 18 signs that you are a mum of boys that people would have been hard pushed to send me hate messages on! Although I’m sure the haters out there can find anything to get their spite on with – we just have to rise above it. Don’t let it get you down. Like my husband told me when I once got a twitter troll, for the one person who is criticising me, there are hundreds of others out there that like what I write. xx
I saw your post about being a mum to boys being shared on FB and it was fab (I have two boys and one girl). I’ve had a couple of humorous ones go viral and as you say, no nasty comments at all, just people enjoying it and relating to it. People are obviously entitled to disagree with me, I don’t have a problem with that, they just don’t need to be quite so verbally abusive or intimidating. But then, if they think it’s okay to park in parent spaces when they have no need for a wider space, then we shouldn’t be surprised by the nasty comments. Xx
Firstly, you are doing really well with the blog – not just the numbers (which *are* impressive) but the content too. I’ve only discovered you in the last couple of months but I quickly became a subscriber. Your original post really chimed with me – as both a parent and someone with disabled relatives, I simply cannot understand how people can be so thoughtless and selfish as to justify parking in reserved spaces and to then react angrily when challenged.
It’s a sad side-effect of the freedom of expression that the internet allows that we have to put up with some of the bile that we occasionally see, and that it’s virtually impossible for an author to go below the line and defend their arguments without further abuse and their words being twisted every which way. Liberal that I am, I will defend people’s right to free speech but I also reserve the right to consider them to be complete numpties as a result. As you say, it’s funny how so often people hide behind the anonymity of a pseudonym to say the kind of things they would never say to your face.
Yes, I agree with you on defending the right to freedom of speech. Seeing journalists and bloggers in other countries being jailed and killed, we can never take it for granted. But as you say, some of the comments are so horrid and there’s no point engaging with these trolls.
I love your blog too. Always very entertaining and insightful and as I’ve said to you before, I love hearing from a dad’s point of view.
Great post! Your original topic is a major bug bear of mine, but after a few nasty encounters in supermarkets when I’ve challenged people parking in child spaces, I’ve kept out their way. I have no idea why others find the idea of child spaces a bad thing and need to respond to you in such a vile way. I’m sorry that you had to go through reading all those awful comments, but some people seem to love finding something to write nasty messages on. I doubt any of my pieces will go viral, but you’ve made me think about pictures with my kids faces in them, I might need to consider keeping faces out of it.
Thanks for your comment Jenny. Sorry to hear about the nasty comments. The sad thing is so many parents tell me the same. Makes me sad as a society that people go out of their way to make life harder for other people. I’m not sure if I’m overly cautious about the photos, but it really made me realise how little control you have when you put something online xx
PS. That comment above was from me. For some reason when I comment from my phone it comes up as admin. x
Makes you realise how supportive (and insular I suppose) the parent blogging world is, people don’t tend to comment unless they have something nice to say. I stuck my head up over the parapet and commented on a political blog’s post about Jeremy Clarkson last week, pointing out that the petition to reinstate him had been started by one of his fellow Sun columnists, and the first response to me was “What the f***ing hell is this c*** going on about? Charming.
In a way though it’s worse when you write something about parenting and get shit thrown at you because normally it’s very supportive. I wrote a piece a few years ago on going back to work after a baby being born and how upsetting it was. Some of the comments on that were really unpleasant- from telling me to man up and stop being a pussy, to wondering whether I was even the father as I was so weak. Happy times.
Completely with you on the car parking though.
I would love to read your post about going back to work. I think it must be so tough for a lot of dads as they miss out on so much. I know my husband finds it difficult. Those comments sound really harsh and out of order. I think it’s great that you are open about your emotions and obviously enjoy being a dad so much. A lot of dads could learn from that!
PS. That first comment was from me. For some reason when I comment from my phone it comes up as admin. x
Well done, I read your original post and it was quite heated in style but your points were very well made and valid. I still think that we shouldn’t be quite so quick to judge, and that’s the main moral of the story – let’s not forget that there are many invisible disabilities that might not qualify a person for a disabled badge but they might still benefit from the larger P&C space. And I think pregnant women should absolutely be allowed to use P&C spaces – no, they’re not ‘disabled’ but they need to open their doors wide enough to get them and their bump out! It’s logistics!
I love how diplomatic you are by saying it was heated in style! You are right it was strongly worded. I agree we shouldn’t judge too quickly, absolutely, and it’s terrible that people who genuinely need wider spaces are not always given that entitlement. I had a few close encounters when I was pregnant, and once had to clamber in from the passenger side. Not easy when you have two kids in the back and are heavily pregnant. Thanks for the comment x
PS. That other comment was from me. For some reason when I comment from my phone it comes up as admin. x
PS. That other comment was also from me. For some reason when I comment from my phone it comes up as admin. x
You have some very impressive numbers 🙂 I wrote a post that was quite controversial (The title was Why I Wont Call My Daughter Pretty) and it got quite a lot of interest and some of the comments were just so mean. The point of the post was how I will be using gender-neutral praising phrases for my son and my daughter and people just saw the title and thought I was a massive hypocrite because I’m a little bit f a beauty addict. Like you say, as soon as you put something out on the internet I suppose it leaves key board warriors ample of opportunities to be, basically really mean! Keep up the amazing posts, love your blog!
That sounds like a really interesting post – I’ll have to read it. I agree with you on the gender neutral praising and stereotyping.
It’s terrible when people don’t even read the piece before making harsh comments. I guess the people who think it’s okay to leave horrible comments are the ones who think abusing parent parking is okay in the first place. I like to think I’m a decent person and you just presume everyone else is too. Sadly not the case x
I’ve said some controversial things over the years which have attracted that sort of attention and my “rules” are 1) don’t take any of it personally (which I realise some don’t find easy) and 2) only ever publish comments if they’ve bern left with a legit name and email address. The second means most of the trolls get removed because they don’t have the balls to come out from behind anonymity.
I have a letter from my insurance company downstairs regarding an incident in which my eldest threw open her car door into the side of a brand new audi. This could end up costing me a fortune, but that’s what I get for being honest and leaving a note. Anyway, point is this wouldn’t have happened in a wider child space so that in itself justifies their existence to me. Not that I ever questioned them – anyone who has ever seen my ranting about this very topic on Twitter will testify to that 😉
Oh no! What a nightmare about the Audi incident. Hope it is not too difficult to get it sorted. Just goes to show why we need more wider spaces and what can happen when they are not available.
You are right about not taking it personally. I’ve had far worse thrown at me as a journalist – it’s just a bit more shocking when it’s on your own blog. I can’t believe people enjoy being nasty and intimidating so much. Why??! x
Sorry that you have had some nasty comments – I think internet sometimes brings out the nastiness in some people out, being anonymous and all. I’ve never had any mean comments in any way, so it is difficult for me to know what I’d do. Maybe just post them (if they weren’t obscene like cursing or slanderous) and just leave it at that. But I can imagine they would play on your mind for a long time.
I approved most of them – just not the worst ones that were pretty awful to be honest. I wonder if they would be so rude if they were not anonymous. x
Wow. Thanks for this insight, I for one have never consider the consequences of my posts going viral. There is some hateful people out there, the issue they have is with themselves not you x
Yes, that’s a good point. I often wonder what is going on in their lives to make them so mean x
Well…isn’t that nice? Crazy how people hide behind anonymity, perhaps they were online bullies from a young age. Unacceptable I say. I am sorry that you received such rubbish. Everyone has an opinion, maybe we as mother’s aren’t teaching our children the old adage…”Don’t say anything if you have nothing nice to say.” I mean, we can all agree to disagree, but do it kindly. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any nasty comments, or trolls, yet…but, you hit a nerve, I guess that we are all striving to do that, we bloggers. Congratulations, you have succeeded!
Yes, exactly, no need for rude and intimidating language. Just say it kindly and your point will be far stronger for it. I guess if people are mean enough to park in spaces not meant for them, I shouldn’t be surprised by such horrible comments. It’s nice to have final say on whether I publish them or not though!