Going viral

My friend’s blog post has gone viral. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone for whom this happened. I know people who are famous and they get a zillion hits all the time on their websites and blogs, but this is the first time I’ve known someone who was going about her business in comfortable obscurity when suddenly the magnifying glass of the internet appeared above her and hovered there for a bit.

My friend, whom I’ll call Zara, has been generous and honest with me in sharing the details of her experience, which is why I’m giving her a fake name for this blog post.

On a normal day, her blog gets up to two or three hundred hits. But this post, which was written seven months ago, got 500,000 in four days. It started one morning when she noticed it had 2000. Within hours, that number rose quickly.

As Zara’s new readership grew, so did the number of comments on her blog. Most were very friendly, chatting about the content of her blog, which was funny and sexy, but she also got a few trolls. One woman demanded Zara delete her entire blog because of punctuation mistakes, but the woman’s rude comment got deleted instead.

I should back up here and say that English isn’t Zara’s first language. I think it’s her third (out of five), and the fact that she writes in it amazes me. I struggle with just one language, and admire anyone who would attempt to write in anything other than her native tongue.

Sometimes Zara and I edit each other’s fiction, and I’ve grown to rely on and value her input when I write. When I edit her work, I love seeing the language from a fresh perspective, and often think some of her mistakes shouldn’t be fixed, as they add a certain charm to her work that I could never achieve.

I can’t count the number of times I find myself trying to explain things like why we can see far and wide, but not wide and far. We think long and hard but not hard and long. Some things are neither here nor there, but never neither there nor here. Sometimes Zara’s leading man will look his lover in the eye when he should be looking into her eyes. One of my favorites was when Zara’s hero was running to catch up with his love interest. He ran until he was out of breath, and when he finally caught up to her he was “smiling between his pants.”

I haven’t had a man smile between his pants at me for a long time, and gosh, I miss it.

Zara asked me to edit her blog post—the one that 500,000 people have now read. I guess the trolls got to her and she was feeling insecure about her writing. I did as she asked, of course, but when I sent the blog post back with all my edits I also counseled her not to change a thing.

Would I correct Borat’s English? Yakov Smirnoff’s? How about Latka’s on Taxi? Would Charo be as adorable if her English were perfect?

Writing something correctly isn’t always better. Who am I to argue with half a million people? They like her blog. Do they like the content or her language misuse? Can’t it be both? And does it really matter?

While we ponder this, Zara’s fans are piling up, having come from wide and far, and my opinions on her language use are neither there nor here. The fact is, she has become an internet phenomenon in a matter of days, and that takes my breath away and makes me smile between my pants. Go, Zara, go.

2 comments on Going viral

  1. I love this post! Thank you, because as someone whose second language is English, I never know how others view my use of the language, when in truth I love how malleable it is compared to my first language (Spanish). And yet, with so few grammatical rules and with rules that lend themselves to be broken for creativity's sake, the trolls will take it upon themselves to rain on a parade. So, yeah! Go Zara! And like we say in Spanish: go back? Not even to gain leverage! (Whoa, that doesn't translate well at all.)

Comments are closed.