Five Microinterviews With Microviral Tweeters

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Celebrities reach insane levels of Twitter exposure every day, just by existing. Justin Bieber recently got 60,000 retweets by simply tweeting “Happy thanksgiving”… on October 11. So what happens when a Twitter civilian hits that level of exposure?

There’s an obvious response: new followers and replies, and lots of bots and shady "parody accounts" copying your tweet to bolster their numbers. But also: a deep sense of satisfaction. To the users who find and share them, viral tweets are Twitter’s Easter eggs; to the people who write them, viral tweets are more like winning Lotto tickets that don’t get you any money. They lift their writers to a level of internet renown that anyone could reach, theoretically, but few actually do.

To find out more about that experience, I microinterviewed five people whose tweets have gone viral. They’re probably best known by their handles: @skullmandible, @jnalv, @iSmashFizzle, @heloocaleb, and @electrolemon. Here’s what they said.

Does this tweet ever get stolen?

Cohen Edenfield: Constantly. I’m of two minds about it. If it’s just some high-schooler doing it, I don’t care about that. What irritates me is when it’s stolen by people who are turning their Twitters into something where they sell promoted tweets. So it’s just getting turned into somebody’s marketing thing, so they can then sell tweets for 25 bucks to Bud Light.

What’s the best thing that came of this tweet?

CE: I’m the head writer on the video game that they’re making of "Homestuck," and the creators reached out to me in part because they liked my Twitter. I would say health insurance was the best thing that came out of the tweet?

What were your mentions like while the tweet was going viral?

Josh Nalven: It’s almost like if you’re watching competitive eating. It’s like, “Wow. How many hard-boiled eggs can this guy shove in his mouth? How many eel tweets before the internet decides it’s had enough?”

Has anything awkward come of this tweet?

JN: One guy did a Vine of him singing it, and at-replied me about it. I was like, I don’t really know what to do about that.

Before you posted the tweet, did you think it might go viral?

Ashley Ford: I’m just not that strategic. Sometimes I just kind of want to put a funny thing out there. I don’t want to burn out … I don’t want to be going so hard or joylessly every day that I get to a point where I can’t even think about justice and ending police brutality and things like that anymore.

What’s the best thing that came of this tweet?

AF: It did make for an interesting conversation with my family. Most of my family on my mother’s side works in law enforcement. I’m black, and my family’s black, but I was worried that people would be defensive, and think of themselves as law enforcement first, black second. And that’s not the case. They definitely feel conflicted.

Can you talk a little about the horse?

Caleb McGowen: The horse’s name is Harvey Bailey. He’s my grandparents’. When they saw the tweet, they thought it was pretty cool that their horse was famous.

What’s the best thing that came out of the tweet?

CM: Nothing really. I got 300 followers, but that’s about it.

Before you posted this tweet, did you think it might go viral?

CM: I knew that it was going to go viral. Oh, yeah.

Is there a response to the tweet that stands out as your favorite?

Demi Adejuyigbe: I love every response that asks where I got the DVDs. I like faving those tweets to show I saw them, but not responding. I mean, if I went “online bulk ordering” or “Blockbuster goin’ out of business, baby!” it would be much less funny than imagining a Click truck tipping over on the highway, or some sort of elaborate DVD heist.

Have your parents seen the tweet?

DA: Yeah, my sister brought it up one time to all of us. My parents said they’d seen the tweet at some point, and they went upstairs to see the DVDs themselves and just went, “Oh, huh,” and left. They still didn’t talk to me about it, even after the tweet.