This Christmas, we suspended Christmas trees from our living room ceiling. What began as an act of creative expression, ended up being an accomplished engineering feat, a display that reminded me of a 5th Avenue department store, a train of slowly passing cars in front of the house each evening, and most importantly – a permanent memory-maker for our boys and all the friends and family we were lucky enough to host this holiday season.
This installation also put me on some kind of “map.” For better or for worse. Each reel went viral – and not because of a landslide of positive comments. However, knowing that bad press is good press and no press is bad press, I tried embracing this experience that was both positive and extremely negative – because going viral also helped a lot of people find me who were excited to follow along, and may not have found me otherwise.
The current stats: As I type this post, the first reel I posted is at 1 million views, 21,000 likes, 21,000 shares, 3,500 saves and 1,400 comments. The second reel has reached 1.6 million views, 55,000 likes, 26,000 shares, 5,100 saves and 600 comments. And the most recent reel is sitting at 4.5 million views, 224,000 likes, 62,000 shares, 20,000 saves and over 2,000 comments.
I posted this content because we designed something we thought would be cool in our home this Christmas – also a design that was an engineering and creative mind-bend – and we shared about it because Josh and I pulled it off ourselves. (We did not hire this out as some commenters assumed, and we do not have a full staff of maids and housekeepers to constantly sweep up needles and clean sap off our sofas, as some other people chimed in…) We were proud of it.
Have you ever posted about something you were proud of? Similarly to sharing about a big fish you’ve caught on vacation, a great game of golf, or documenting a fabulous trip – social media has become the place where you can socially-acceptably pat yourself on the back and give kudos to friends for things that make us happy and make us proud. It’s like mom-bragging your children’s athletic and educational accomplishments, announcing a college acceptance, posting the home you just bought, or posting stunning photos and videography from a wedding, whether a million dollar affair designed by industry leaders, or a backyard affair officiated by your brother. These are the things we share, and why: it’s ok to feel proud about something you’ve done.
I’m pretty sure 99% of us have shared something we’re proud of. You can imagine the fire that began burning a hole in the pit of my stomach reading comments about having the audacity to post something I’m proud of. That I should be ashamed. That I was embarrassing. That I was bragging. That people are being murdered in the world, going without food, that the “white women should be locked up until we figure out what is going on…” (An actual quote.) … I’m not taxed enough, the family members who had to die in order for me to spend my inheritance on something this stupid are rolling over in their graves, I’m a rich, bored housewife, I’m stupid (I received comments both that the design was stupid and that I was in fact, as a person, stupid…) And many comments hoping the trees fall down on me, my family and our friends. A few comments were so violent and charged with so much hate, I did some deleting. I will never repeat them.
What I learned about my first viral reels, and a challenge for you!
- Negativity is louder than positivity. The reel with 4.5 million views, has over 224,000 hearts but only 2,000 comments and many of those are negative.
- It takes more energy to be negative than positive. It’s easier to tap the heart, and move on.
- People sharing your content to their stories is important! The three viral reels have a total of over 109,000 shares. I thanked as many people as I could who I was notified had shared my reel. I only received notifications for a fraction of the shares, and they were not all positive. Some people who share our content to their stories add their negative comments – but guess what… they are still sharing my reel, and even though it doesn’t feel good to see their negative commentary within the share, it isn’t guaranteed all of their followers will hate it just because they did. I thanked the negative comment shares cordially anyway. Because a share is a share – and sometimes these people were caught off guard – stunned even – when they realized the creator of the content saw their comment and were in-turn surprised by my kindness, despite their negativity. One person was even embarrassed and ended up apologizing, taking down her share, and DM’ing me that her comment didn’t feel good to her afterwards, that the world is hard enough without people like her making fun of my content and that I didn’t need that, and ultimately, telling me my floating trees grew on her, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
- Don’t be afraid to delete or block. I deleted the lovely comments from well-wishers that hoped the trees would fall on me or my family, and the comment hoping they’d impale me through my eye socket and leave blood everywhere, and others. Certain references I won’t repeat.
- The assumption of wealth and money. This is a tricky one because wealth and money and what is “rich” and what is “enough” is all relative. So my reply to these comments isn’t to agree that I’m “rich” or argue that I’m “not rich”, that I was flaunting my “wealth” or that I somehow can’t decorate my home the way I want to, but instead share with you the facts on what I spent and how I paid for this purchase.
The trees are Nearly Natural and when purchased direct, cost $320.99 each
I tried to get a campaign with a brand to partner with me for the trees but fell in love with the idea so much that when I couldn’t secure a partnership, I knew I wanted to try and pull it off anyway. I needed to find the trees as inexpensively as possible. I had not budgeted for this installation, so I would need to get creative.
I found the same insanely realistic looking Nearly Natural trees on sale on HomeDepot.com for $199 each and used my HomeDepot credit card which allowed me to purchase the trees with a special promotional 18 month 0% deferred interest APR. I had not budgeted for this installation, but I know I can pay the purchase off within the promotional APR window.
The tree purchase was $1077.09. Not “thousands” or “thousands and thousands of dollars” as many people assumed. But I do know that $1000 is a lot of money. I also know it’s a drop in the bucket for some people. I know it was more than I was prepared to spend in one transaction, but knew I could afford this over time without accruing any interest. And since the trees are faux, I can use them year-over-year. Additionally, I’m a content creator and blogger for a living so the purchase was both an investment and a write-off.
Here’s my challenge to you! Can you imagine going viral yourself, or imagine a content creator you love following going viral, because they had as many *kind comments as “hearts?” What if we could be more intentional with our positivity and leave a note of encouragement, an energetic reply specific to something that made you happy? The hearts are important, but why do we want to rest in this land where people who used to not have something nice to say, didn’t say anything at all and moved on with their lives, but are now camping out, content with their miserable outlooks of themselves and the world, courageously pecking away from behind the comforts of their keyboard, behind the confidence of a private account? Literally engaging in arguments with complete strangers to somehow make themselves feel better, trolling other peoples’ work, talents and passions… content they literally hate. Yet there they sit.
The thing about engagement – positive or negative, is it’s still all engagement and it still all helps the content continually be pushed out into the social media algorithms. It’s like press. Bad press is good press and no press is bad press. Negative engagement is still engagement and no engagement is bad engagement. The only problem with negative engagement and bad press is there is a person on the receiving end who pushed something into the world as a creator because they liked it, they were proud of it, they were hoping to inspire someone else, maybe hoping to find more followers because they’re starting a small business and the more followers they can garner, the more they can charge, and the more financially independent they can be.
Knowing all of this, would you decide to do more to let someone know they did something that resonated with you? Give them a pat on the back? They put the content out there, as a self pat on their back possibly – why shouldn’t we meet them there and tell them “good job.” “Keep going.” “I see what you did and I think it’s so cool/unique/awesome/beautiful!”
Negative, hateful, sometimes abusive keyboard warriors and the passive energy we give to things we enjoy are two things in my book that should never have been fostered, applauded, laughed at, or given energy. In 2024 let’s see kind comments more. If a reel as 200,000 hearts, 20% kind comments would be so nice. I can’t tell you how many times my family had to remind me when these reels were going viral, to go look at the hearts. When the negative comments were trending much more than the positive ones, and the instagram notifications included name-calling, terrible things about me as an artist and a human, or “hilarious” accounts who re-mix reels to make a mockery of someone else’s art or content – I needed to be reminded to go look at the hearts.
At the beginning of this endeavor, and at the end of the day, Josh and I suspended five faux Christmas trees from our living room ceilings and created a magical, floating forest for us. And, as we’ve discussed here today, when you’re proud of something, or you’ve just plain freaking pulled something off – we all have an opportunity to share about it. This of course leaves all vulnerabilities on the table, in plain sight for everyone to applaud, like, share, save, point and laugh at, make fun of, tear down and crap all over.
The thing is, now, in 2024 more than ever – we need creators. We need artists. We need poets, songwriters and musicians. We need people who see things differently, who might be a little weird and eccentric, who may even be self-conscious of their abilities or insecure about their talents, or wrestling with their own demons or climbing out of traumas and depressions and relying on their own bootstrapped, personal bits of bravery – however small or large in scale – to push their content out into the world. How dare someone else be the supreme ruler to tear someone else down just because they don’t like it. They probably just don’t understand it. And that’s ok. Sometimes we’re uncomfortable seeing a design or piece of art we’ve never seen before. But it doesn’t make it “wrong.” It doesn’t make it “stupid” or “the ugliest thing [you’ve] ever seen.” (But I’ll tell you what: it’s no one’s job to behave and comment in the way I experienced this past month.)
We need creators’ efforts now more than ever because art equals possibility. It equals hope. It equals new ideas, fresh perspectives, innovation – and ideally, a brighter spot. A brighter day. And an even brighter tomorrow. Positive comment to your hearts’ content this year. Encourage those putting themselves out there. We need more of their hearts in our world.