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I’m sorry for breaking the Internet

December 7, 2014

Sorry No Internet Today sign

Photo: Marcelo Graciolli (CC)

I stayed up till 4 a.m. Wednesday writing a post for my Birmingham blog. A fairly ordinary one at that.

It was timely, and it was longer than usual, almost 1,900 words. Really, the only big difference was structure: Would it be a report or an opinion piece?

I went with opinion. I felt I had the right information and the gumption to pick a side. Usually, I report, and readers decide.

Sometimes, we send our stories into the world and hope someone will notice. Or that readers will comment, whether they agree or disagree. Sometimes, we hit Publish and hope no one will read it ever.

After a long night of research, writing and editing while fighting a cold, I was ready. I did want people to read my rant about the end of a local university’s football program. Media outlets had jumped on the story the previous 72 hours, as well as a blogger or two, so my 2 cents would quickly become lost in the cacophony of anger and sadness and surprise.

I promoted the post on Twitter and Facebook, as I do with many of my posts. Traffic increased, but not by much. I hadn’t reached out to anyone to promote it, figuring it would live or die quickly on merit alone.

I was headed out for a few appointments that afternoon, when I received an email from my hosting service. It had turned off my site temporarily from traffic overload.

Oops.

I tried to get to the post. No luck. I tried to log in. No luck. I emailed the technician asking him nicely to turn the site back on, knowing that traffic would settle back down soon. The email had also offered an advanced hosting plan, but why upgrade for something that has happened exactly once in 9 years?

That’s right: I’ve never written a post for any site that went viral. Until now.

I’ve written popular posts. I’ve written posts that were shared furiously on social media. But this was new for me.

I went to my meetings, hoping that the site would come back online soon and feeling a little helpless.

And a couple of hours later (while I was still AFK), the site and my post were up again. A blip in the life of the Internet.

In 5 days, my UAB football post has received almost 1,000 Likes and is my fourth most viewed post ever. (Those Top Three posts have been on my site for years and years.)

Crazy.

I’m not worried about breaking my site again, or trying to recapture that once-in-a-lifetime virality. You shouldn’t either.

Blog with purpose. Blog with passion. Be extra nice to your hosting service.

And be ready to do it all over again.

• • •

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