How Things Go Viral

by Site Author

When Janine Loconsolo picked up a copy of Discovery Magazine for her four-year-old daughter, she was expecting the usual age-appropriate features. The magazine—“created by girls, for girls”—is targeted at nine-year-old girls, but the girls don’t buy it for themselves. It’s the magazine parents buy for their daughters, full of tips for middle school and little art projects.

So Loconsolo was surprised when she saw that the magazine was becoming a kind of middle-school Cosmo. The feature that got her worried: “What Swimsuit Suits You?” It was as though the editors had decided that their readers had gotten too confident and insufficiently focused on how they looked.

Loconsolo showed the magazine to her friend, Taffy Akner, a woman who happens to be one of the best magazine writers in the country. And Akner responded in a way that only she could. Instead of an angry tweet, she chose biting sarcasm.

akner-tweet

Very quickly, Akner’s tweet went viral, garnering 738 retweets and many more likes, one of which was mine. The tweet prompted the editor of discovery girls to issue a public apology for the feature. And even after that, the tweet launched the issue into the public sphere, with journalists around the country covering it.

The whole episode demonstrates how we transmit indignation in the digital age. There are surely many people who would take to Twitter and Facebook to write angry, indignant hot takes on the article. But who wants to read that?