Why I’ve Decided Not To Go Viral
December 28, 2015
I’m not your slave. I don’t even work for you. So why would I spend my free time, trying to write something that I want you to read? Would you do the same for me? Would I even care?
But I almost became your slave. In the Internet zoo, I started to be your yappy little cyber-mutt, begging for a cookie.
The first time I got a few SHARES for my writing it felt too good. It was that kind of feeling where you want to try it again, just to make sure it works. And when it works again you realize your ego may have found yet another source of nourishment.
I didn’t start writing my first articles, about suicidal pilots or beating cnacer (I hate that word and refuse to spell it correctly) (Also notice I passed up 2 tempting opportunities to hyperlink) because I was hoping for validation. I needed to write those articles because they were bumping around inside of me, looking for a way to get out.
The passion I feel for writing can only come from inside me; it is disconnected from any outside observer. But things can grow in different directions, depending upon the diet. And soon I started self-injecting social botox, which only blurred my lines.
It is funny how easy it is to develop delusions of grandeur when your Internet work is read, liked, or shared by hundreds, or even a few thousand people. You imagine people recognize you on the street and your clumsy attempts to be inconspicuous, channel Mr. Bean, drawing curious glances. All the proof you need, as you further conceal your identity, even though you are only famous in your head.
You also start to find your motivation to write come from needy, instead of healthy places. Almost like the young person who finally discovers they are physically beautiful, and then invests everything in that one part to the exclusion of others.
I have been writing for a while now and have been thinking about how successful I want to be.
But I have radically changed what ‘success’ means, in terms of how my writing affects my own life, as well as the life of others.
This has happened for a few reasons, the most likely being I have matured a little bit and shifted how I view things. Perhaps childhood fantasies have given way to adult realities, but I would rather believe that the things I want from writing, are more likely to come from within compared to just about anywhere else.
Besides, within about a week of going viral, unless Ellen likes you, your life pretty much remains exactly the same. The Internet does not deliver a shiny new car to your front door. You don’t even get faster loading times.
The only major difference is that you now have yet another experience, to share with your inside self, family, and friends. If you don’t believe me, give this excellent blog a read, and see for yourself.
My new measures of success have returned to my old measures.
I am going back to writing for me.
I don’t want to guess at what topics or headlines to use, to make it more probable that you will give me a click. Although, if I write a specific piece where that is required, either to make a meta-point or for some other reason I convince myself is okay, then let’s just all be Bobby McFerrin about it.
I wrote the headline for this article using a psychological technique called ‘The Paradox’, or something like that. Seeing something counter-intuitive manipulates the unconscious mind to at least become curious about the mixed message, and perhaps check out the article.
Sorry about that.
The bottom line is, if I write for me, it is always a win-win because my motivation will lie within me, not based upon how many people read my last article.
These days just living life, while watching it at the same time, creates new ideas to write about all the time. It is a normal part of my day to write and I often feel compelled, similar to other activities I enjoy.
Writing is easy for me not because I think I am good at it. It is easy because it is on that short list of things I can do to automatically pay myself dividends, in most other areas of my life.
There are things you can do in your life that sprinkle fertilizer on all the other parts of your being in some way or another. Exercise is great, both psychologically, and physically. Choosing a healthy diet requires discipline, and curiosity. Loving others and appreciating your life, reaps personal rewards that last a lifetime.
Writing for me is one of my safest bubbles to be any version of myself, often decided by mood and circumstances.
There are no wrong answers. There is the chance to go back and make it better. Finishing an idea or article does not mean I have to show it to the social media world. Sometimes, I let it float, just for me.
It did not start out this safe for me. It was pain that wrenched open my writer’s third eye to the world.
My first words poured out, like tears, dammed up for maybe a lifetime. And there was a need to jettison it out, to the world. As I look back it is clear I was not ‘sharing’ my thoughts, I was purging dangerous emotions.
And then I got feedback and I started keeping track.
It became a new currency in my intellectual economy. When this happens, the safety of the writing bubble is lost. New parameters start to pop up in your mind, resembling the motif of a 9-5. You start to think people are waiting for your next post and every new one needs to be more commercial, and deeper at the same time, than the last.
So that is why I have decided against going viral. Chasing the goal of being popular distorts the very thing I am attempting to create. It extorts my process and my authenticity enters the witness relocation program in my art, and eventually in my life.
Simon Trepel, MD
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. This post better not go viral, or I am a loser.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff, at