The Desperation of Virality

Ed Zitron 3 min read

Let me be blunt - I love getting retweeted. I love the likes. I love the attention on Twitter. You do too! You absolutely do, and I think it’s 100% fine to admit this. It doesn’t mean you’re a narcissist, or obsessed with it, or what have you. It’s a way to feel interesting, important, funny, and so on, and I get that.

What’s also interesting is how this has led to people who say stuff just to say stuff, even if said stuff doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Like this guy, who people seem to still retweet for whatever reason.

Almost every reply is someone bagging on him for his extremely questionable judgment of the Netflix UI, a Jackson Pollock painting of algorithmic guesswork that does everything it can to separate you from what you actually want to watch. I don’t feel much for Tom, but I do feel that what he’s doing here is the classic pontification specifically to get retweets. When you actually think about the underlying statement it begins to fall apart - as many of these tweets do - and his problem was that he went in too hot with his scorcher of a take. Most of the time people just breeze past these things after retweeting them - his goal here was for people to say “damn, ad-supported stuff DOES suck!” hit that like and RT, and move on with their day.

Guys like Aaron Levie have that shit down to an art:

Just utterly meaningless! What do you mean dude? What’s the suggestion? Is this a joke? It isn’t funny! So it must be a point, right?

I feel bad pointing this one out as Alexia is awesome, but this is the platonic form of the thought-free RT.

What’s it got going on here…okay, we’ve got a reference to Ariana Grande, we’ve got uh, meditation, I know what that is, sure, retweeting that bad boy. Even if just one second of thought makes this make absolutely no sense. I also credit that she probably, as I regularly do, just thought the sentence sounded fine and tweeted then moved on with her day.

Then there’re ones like the insufferably twee content engine hidden inside the body of theoretical person Vala Afshar.

He’s probably posted this one 100,000 times. All of these are purposefully vague statements that when retweeted give the appearance of the retweeter actually having something resembling a personality.

I don’t know why this kind of thing really bothers me so much. It’s not that I believe my content is better (well, I do, but that’s not why it’s annoying) and thus deserving of more retweets or what have you. I think it’s that I can see the gears turning in many of these cases - from the normal “huh that sounds good, send tweet” to the “I know this will get a bunch of attention because it’s the shit most people retweet without much thought.”

This is also why people steal tweets - some awful Game of Thrones tweet about group projects went viral, and some guy who’s also the guy who called Anthony Bourdain selfish for killing himself stole it, and he sucks, but also, it’s fascinating to watch the person who made the original tweet react to getting 42,000 likes. They changed their title to “temporary internet sensation” and now they’re tweeting about being famous for a tweet, which makes my brain hurt! It hurts, please make it all stop!

My larger point is that my posts are the best posts. Please like and retweet every single one.


I’ll be in New York from May 9 through May 16, and will be at crypto conference Consensus from May 13th through May 15th. You can email me at if you want to meet with me, as I haven’t actually booked anything else to do during the trip. Probably not smart, but whatever!


I wrote two books, This Is How You Pitch, a book for early PR people, and Fire Your Publicist, a book for everyone else. Everyone seems to know about the first one but not the last one. If you want to buy them go right ahead, if you don’t that’s also okay.

More from Ed Zitron's Where's Your Ed At

Empty Laughter

Amongst the sludge of AI-powered everything at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, a robbery took place. “Dudesy —” allegedly a
Ed Zitron 15 min read

Welcome to Where's Your Ed At!

Subscribe today. It's free. Please.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Ed Zitron's Where's Your Ed At.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.