A crazy, unexpected thing happened to me last week. One of my articles went viral. I wrote a post about basketball. It wasn’t the article I sat down to write, but the Badgers’ heartbreaking loss in the final game of the NCAA tournament was on my mind and I couldn’t let it go. I wrote that post in fifteen minutes, off the cuff and from the heart. I almost didn’t hit “publish.” I am no sports analyst, no authority on basketball, and so inexperienced as a sports fan that it is laughable.
I didn’t think that a post about basketball would be of interest to my audience. I thought a few friends and readers who loved the Badgers would read it. I published it anyway, and vowed to get back to my real writing the next day.
Within an hour Word Press, my hosting platform, sent me an announcement telling me there was high traffic. I didn’t think much of it, figuring it was about Word Press in general, not realizing it was about my site. I got another announcement, and then another. I went to my homepage. My post had been shared 2969 times. In an hour. My traffic was through the roof.
My Facebook page was hit and shared over and over. I started getting comments and emails and phone calls. My Twitter feed was alive. Basketball teams started following me on Twitter. My jaw dropped when even Duke Basketball started following me. Really? Duke? Are you kidding me?
It was wildly unexpected. I had no plan for what to do when a post went viral because I never thought it would happen. Especially a post about basketball. I watched my stats climb and climb. The traffic and its resulting interactions consumed me for three days.
Once I picked myself up off the floor, I started to really look at and question what had happened. I took a good look at my feedback. People responded to my vulnerable ramblings and thanked me for pouring my heart out. Many people commented that I had put into words what they, too, had been feeling. People shared their stories about how they had fallen in love with this team. The experience had become so much more than following a terrific basketball team; it was about being a part of something bigger than yourself. What they were responding to was not me so much as the community that had built up around the experience of watching and loving the 2014-15 Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
A well- lived life is about more than our own personal journey. Part of the richness, and the fun is sharing the road with fellow sojourners. The people we love and choose to share our lives with as well as the community that we find along the way are what connect us to a bigger picture. The feeling that we are all on this trip together and that together we are more than we are alone is the definition of humanity.
And so I wrote a little post about basketball and found a connection to the human spirit. If anyone wants to know how to make a post go viral, I would just say to pour out your heart and connect to what is real and human. Connect with humanity and you connect with the wider world.
That is how I found the world in one little basketball story.