I have a strange way of connecting different concepts in my head, and recently I stumbled on perhaps the weirdest connection of all: Blog posts that went viral and how those posts relate to living our lives in a way that’s not boring.
Going viral isn’t always a good thing, but for the most part, it generally kicks ass. We get exposure. Our stuff is seen by thousands (or millions) of people. Face it, it’s kinda cool.
Most of us bloggers want our stuff to go viral because it’s exciting. We don’t start blogs to live in a world of loneliness. We start them to argue a point. To tell our story. Maybe even to have an impact. Whatever the reason, we write to be read. Exposure to new audiences opens up the doors of possibilities. Our blogs grow. Our readership expands. In other words, it gives us a feeling that we belong. That we “got this”.
Going viral doesn’t need to be a blog-specific concept, though. Our lives operate in much the same way, but most of us don’t think of our lives as a blog post. Hell, I never had until now.
But, what if we do? How do we build our lives like a viral blog post?
Characteristics of blog posts that went viral
Going viral means you hit the jackpot. Your stuff got shared way beyond your normal collection of readers. Your blog is getting hits like crazy, maybe even crashing your server. Perhaps a major news outlet picked up on your story and wants to do a feature on you.
In other words, life is good!
What do most viral posts have in common? Viral posts:
Are reactive to the world “as it happens”
Viral posts very often hit a sweet spot in time. Something happened and people are interested in it. Most of us are way more likely to click on an article that discusses something that everybody is talking about. It’s current events. People love that shit.
Reach whole new audiences
Viral posts always reach new audiences. In fact, that’s what makes them “viral”. They aren’t just read by the same people that read everything else from the blog. They break through those invisible barriers and reach a much wider audience. That audience shares the content with their own friends and family, and the process repeats until the post spreads across the country (or world).
Balance raw emotion with interest and intelligence
Viral posts don’t just talk about what happened, as if it were a news report (I think outlets like CNN and BBC already have that covered). Viral posts add on a layer of “interesting intelligence” on top of what happened. Insight. Something unique and inciteful, or at least interesting enough that people are willing to take the time to read. This could be as simple as a rant.
Think of your life as a blog post that went viral
Viral blog posts accomplish three primary actions: They are often time-sensitive with current events, they are seen by huge audiences outside of their normal group of readers and they typically offer something interesting for people to consider.
I always try to live my life as if it were a viral blog post. Here’s how.
I react to the world around me
I don’t let the world boss me around, though I’m not necessarily one of those “rebels” who brazenly breaks every rule that I can just because I can. I approach every situation as rationally as I can, and I accept reality way more easily than I used to.
When I was younger, I had a very idealized view of the world and how I believed it “should be”, and every time the world didn’t revolve neatly around those stupid little tenants that I built up in my head, I would get flustered and frustrated. “The world isn’t supposed to work this way!”, I’d say. But, it doesn’t matter. Rid the phrase “supposed to” from your vocab.
“It doesn’t matter, Steve! Pull your head out of your ass long enough to actually see the world around you, and maybe you’ll learn something.”
I put myself out there
I love my group of social companions, but I’m also not content to just “let it be”. I believe that if I’m not actively getting myself out there and escaping my comfort zone, then opportunities are passing me by. One of my goals is to continue showing my face where ever I can. To not only get our story of early retirement out there but also just be present and aware. All the time.
That’s part of why we’ve been earning so much money after calling it quits from full-time work. These opportunities are everywhere! The only thing we need to do is put ourselves out there and ask for them when they sound interesting.
Breaking through my circle of friends into new groups of people expands my horizons – like, big time. Everybody has a different story. We all do things just a bit differently. When we stay huddled into our own little world, we’re ignorant of the possibilities. Of better ways to do things. Of new potentials that could literally give our lives new meaning.
Though it might sound strange to use this terminology with life, I need to find new audiences everywhere I go. People challenge me. They give me focus and determination to try new things and experience mind-blowing opportunities.
I try my damnest to balance emotion with intelligence
I have never been an emotional person, but especially now…my first reaction when things go wrong is to keep my emotions in check and balance those natural emotions with something that might actually help the situation: thought. Consideration.
The use of our brain.
I believe we can learn from everything that happens in life…especially the things that go wrong. Success is great, but we learn by failing.
Failures have a way of humbling us. They force us to reflect on the situation, as well as ourselves, to determine where we F’ed up. We retrace our steps and analyze where we stumbled off the path to righteousness. We admit to ourselves that, well, we screwed up. It happens.
And, it’s this process that teaches us about ourselves. About confidence. About picking our asses up from off the ground and trying again. And again.
We all love successes, but we learn so much more from our failures.
My goal is to learn from my mistakes, but also to not dwell on them. Move the hell on. Take whatever we can from our screw-ups and forget about ’em.
But wait? What about the haters?
I’ll be honest, I don’t give a shit about the haters. Haters are going to hate regardless of what you do. Even if it’s the exact same thing as them, they’ll find a reason to hate you. Let ’em. Hate takes way too much effort for me.
The haters are out there, and they will let you know how much they hate you. After all, that’s what they do. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be haters.
In other words, when you put yourself out there, there will be people who fight back. You’ll get hate from complete strangers. Maybe even from your friends and family. If not hate, maybe passive-aggressiveness. They won’t call you as much or just pretend they are busy. In other words, things could change between you and those you know. It happens.
It is a natural by-product of putting yourself out there. Sharing your story. Getting involved in new things and contributing your opinion. Some people won’t like it.
But, here’s the best thing about all this: People don’t have to like it. It’s not about them. It’s about YOU and doing what is in your best interest.
I’m a big fan of selfishness. Be selfish. Think of yourself first. Why? Because I can guarantee you that if you don’t think of yourself first, nobody else will either.
Steve is a 37-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.