I signed on to Gmail fairly early, but since another Amanda Marsh claimed the name, I went with my first and middle names. Now I’m being plagued by a million people with the same combination who can’t seem to get their email addresses correct! This past week, I’ve rented a hotel room in Williamsport, Penn. (from an Amanda in Pennsylvania) and signed up for a Facebook account (from an Amanda in Tennessee). Each days, I get reminders from WISN (Milwaukee) and have access to paid UltraViolet (Michigan) and Pandora One accounts. A few months ago, I received an appointment reminder for a blowout (Chicago), a phone number from my non-existent cousin Jonathan, a few Snopes-worthy forwards from an Italian named Victoria, an offer to telecommute from a professor at Notre Dame, and notification that a Realtor would be showing my apartment this Sunday (again, Chicago).
Is it that hard to check your email address before hitting “Submit”?
Inspired by my friend Meg’s discussion about glitter roll-ons that were popular when I was in high school, I decided to focus on the typical day of a teenage girl in the late ’90s. The result: a 23-point list of how we spent our days, from morning to night, drawing on mine and my friends’ experiences in high school.
I had no clue how big this Buzzfeed article was about to blow up.
It was merely an experiment for me, to see how far a Buzzfeed article would go just by my promoting it a few times on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Buzzfeed gave it a nod and a bump, and suddenly the hits started pouring in. I was elated that 500 people looked at my article.
Then at 11:56, I got an email ding on my phone. Buzzfeed sent an email that I had won a 1,000 views award. I was awed and crowed about it on Facebook. 1,000 views—take that! My friends congratulated me on my accomplishment. I then went to sleep.
The next morning, I was awoken by another ding on my phone. The 10,000 views award. In only six hours! Later that day—at 81,000 views—I received an email from a PR exec I work with out of Pennsylvania. “There was a Buzzfeed link being passed around our office this afternoon on being a teenage girl in the 90s. And then I saw your picture and byline on the article. There are many jealous PR girls that want your job right now (and it has to be more fun than writing for real estate) J,” she wrote. And then I received another email from a women I know in Florida. It was getting around!
I started seeing friends posting it on both Facebook and Twitter, not realizing that I’d written it. One of the best reactions was from my best friend Karen (one who didn’t realize) commenting how #22 was her life—she’d been my inspiration for that very bullet point!
By the end of the day, I had shot into the Top 10 of Buzzfeed community contributors, and my article had gone viral on Facebook and Reddit. The following day, it went viral on Tumblr. I was receiving emails, tweets, and Facebook messages galore about how I hit the nail on the head and it was like I was spying on people’s lives. (I only really needed to spy on my own to write it… no matter how many of us thought we were beautiful, unique snowflakes back then, we were for the most part—as the Buzzfeed reactions prove—the same.) By the 15th, it had hit 1 million views, and as I write this today, it’s well over 1.7 million views.
None of the subsequent articles I wrote for Buzzfeed gained the same sort of traction, although 15 Smells That Take You Back To Elementary School did fairly well. It was nothing like my first time, though. Every few days I get a tweet or email about the Typical Day article, with people adding their memories or noting what I forgot (I still refuse to acknowledge Tamagotchis).
What a trip—who knew high school days would hit such a good nerve?
Today, I tried watching a video on a news website, and was met with a message I haven’t seen since I switched from dial-up eons ago—”buffering.”
Buffering? Was I in 1998 again, watching a video that took ages to load on my RealPlayer?
Feeling slightly nostalgic, I decided to listen to the old AOL dial-up sound on YouTube:
It amazes me how much computers and the Internet have changed over the past 15 years. My smart phone is more powerful than the first Gateway I owned! That YouTube video above would have likely taken me two hours to download. I remember tying up the phone lines for eight—yes, eight—hours overnight to download a video of Journey’s “Separate Ways.” Which now can be viewed in an instant.
I wonder what the Internet’s going to look like in another 15 years? Will today’s high-speed, instant connections look like buffering?
Today, my friend Alshawn said, “Everyone says that people born in the ’80s and ’70s have better common sense than today’s generation, and I’m here to tell you that’s utter bullshit. We just didn’t have YouTube and Facebook to permanently memorialize our stupidity.”
Amen. These kids are in for a rude awakening the day they discovered their future employers—or even future children—have Googled them and found these “memorials.”
I wonder what I would have found on my parents had there been YouTube and Facebook in the ’50s and ’60s?