I started this Medium account almost a month ago to the day, and I’ve gone viral twice. Both times it was thanks to Medium’s editors choosing to feature my story.
Most writers lead quiet lives. Unknown writers existences are tomblike, so to say I was unprepared is an understatement.
The first time I went viral, it was for my take on Donald Glover’s This is America music video. I almost didn’t write the piece, then I almost didn’t post it. I assumed it would get lost in the ocean of commentary the video had sparked.
But it exploded.
It’s still going off. I just got word that a journalist in Poland heavily plagiarized my story. I’m still trying to get more details and sort things out. Not speaking Polish is obviously a huge impediment.
It’s all the notifications and not being able to keep up with them that ramp up the stress. The numbers inside that green button at the top of my Medium account kept ticking up, and I kept checking them. I thought staying on top of them was necessary, and I just managed to do it with my This is America piece.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about the scandal over fudged streaming numbers at Jay-Z’s company, TIDAL, and used it as a lens to examine capitalism’s failures. I was quite proud of the piece, but given my short Medium tenure and low follower count, it didn’t get much attention, and I honestly didn’t see much upside for it. I assumed that even with the support of a feature from Medium, it would get an unremarkable spike and peter out pretty quickly.
Boy, was I wrong.
Medium put the feature up on Saturday afternoon, and it did all right, but for whatever reason, it blew up the next day. There was no way for me to keep up with the notifications, and my usually derelict Twitter notifications went nuts. I’ve never been so glad in my life to have a private Facebook account that I don’t check. I gave up on trying to keep up with the cascade of notifications pretty quickly.
The Norwegian newspaper that broke the TIDAL story asked if they could reprint the piece in their online and print editions.
All the attention (most of it positive) has been gratifying, but it’s also been anxiety-inducing and stressful. I honestly don’t know how those people who spend their days getting in knife fights on Twitter and Facebook do it.
I’m thankful for the new followers and slightly higher profile, but it’s a strange new world for me. Rappers are sending me links to their albums and asking me for support.
Am I a low-level influencer now?
The most important thing all this has taught me is that my paramount responsibility is maintaining a healthy state of mind that allows me to be creative and work.
Hopefully, I’ll go viral again. I’m better prepared now.