Why I Rickrolled the Internet

Digital media is powerful because it’s tied to our real lives

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Thanks ashton

“Tim… right?” he said.

The guy was playing with his 1-year-old son at the library, where my 5-year-old son and I were hanging out yesterday morning. He looked familiar but I didn’t recognize him.

I confirmed that, yes, I was Tim.

“You’ve had a busy week,” he said.

It was a surreal moment among many surreal moments.

One week ago, I sent out a cryptic 1-sentence clickbait link referencing a “break up.” in my weekly newsletter. My clickthrough rate skyrocketed by 7x the average. Curiosity is a powerful thing.

That was the beginning. Truly, I could not believe what was about to happen next.

The link went to a tweet that now has more than 7.2 million impressions and its own KnowYourMeme.com page.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I’ve been writing as a way to process it.

As I reflect more today, I have one more thing to add. This experience has confirmed my belief that there is less of a distinction between the “online vs. IRL” worlds than we think.

Running into parents at the library that recognized me from my tweet (I also worked with the dad years ago) was just one such example.

A mom at Clara’s school I barely knew struck up a conversation with me at drop-off about the tweet. Now I’m connected with her husband, a psychologist with 15,000 followers on Twitter.

A colleague stopped me on the steps at work to tell me she registered because of my tweet, since she recently moved and changed her name when she got married. She is quoted in the Buzzfeed article.

I received many messages from people like this one:

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Someone even yelled out a car window “1 MILLION CLICKS!” while I was running downtown. (That was pretty funny, A. Ryan Thompson. And it’s 2.3 million clicks now.)

Me to Jess Cigelske: “You know who Debra Messing is?” Jess: “Uh yeah, haven’t you ever seen Will and Grace?”

I bring these examples up to show that there is power in digital media because it’s tied to our real lives.

Social media is media. Media impacts our attention, our decisions and what we think and talk about.

That’s why I tweeted the link in the first place. It’s not about messing with people with an old Internet trick. It’s about getting people involved in the democratic process in real life.

See you on Nov 6th.

Written by

Educator. Podcast addict. Wrote a book about creativity: http://bit.ly/thecreativejourney

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