Week 34: When My Post Went Viral
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
Well, that was crazy.
Last week on this blog, I published the letter that I wrote to Governor John Kasich about the Heartbeat Bill, which would ban all abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Many of my blog posts generate about 30-50 views. My visitors are usually directly connected with me on Facebook personally or through my Becoming Mother Facebook group. These posts are not widely shared on Facebook. That’s normal.
When I write a post that catches a lot of attention, a handful of people share it on Facebook, and I’ll start getting some traffic from people who don’t normally visit my blog. A blog post like this might reach 200 views.
- A Response to “Meternity” author, Meghanne Foye (213 views)
- Underneath Miscarriage (295 views)
When I really strike a nerve, around 20-30 people share the post on Facebook and the post might reach around 500 views.
- What I Know About Muslims (484 views)
- What Labor and Death Have in Common (567 views)
- On Natural Childbirth: An Honest Confession to First-Time Moms (522)
I was expecting my letter about the Heartbeat Bill to receive about the same amount of traffic that my most heavily trafficked posts have received. About 500 views.
I posted it on Thursday, December 8th, around noon. By the end of the night, it had received 272 views.
Awesome, I thought. It’s doing well.
On Friday, as I was sitting at my desk, I decided to check the post’s traffic after I finished my 8:00 a.m. class.
Your stats are booming! WordPress announced to me. Over 100 views in the past hour!
By 10:00 a.m., that post had already received 500 views for the day.
Over the rest of the day, I kept watching the numbers climb. And climb.
600. 700. 800.
When it reached 1,000 views, I admit, I started feeling a bit of anxiety, simply because it was a pretty vulnerable letter and it was clearly getting a lot of exposure. But all the feedback had been rather positive. (With the exception of one ridiculous on-line troll who went by the name of “Poopchest.”)
So by the end of Friday, the post had received 1,309 views on that day. I was thinking, Wow, that was crazy. But things will probably calm down tomorrow.
Nope. Saturday was even crazier. It ended up receiving 1,938 views.
It wasn’t until Sunday that the visits started to slow. 649 views on Sunday.
181 views on Monday.
By Tuesday, it had dropped to a typical 32 views.
In total, my letter to the governor had about 4,400 views.
I’m a Facebook user, but I’m not so adept at using it that I know all the features that are available.
But my sister does.
She showed me how to search for my post and find out how many times it had been shared by individuals.
It has been shared individually about 700 times.
Here are some of the comments that people have made about the post.
These are people that I don’t know in real life, who have never met me, and who presumably agree with my reasons for my stance on this issue so much that they would share my post with the people that they know.
I’m truly blown away by this.
It tells me that there are so many women who understand how dangerous a law like this can be to women.
In March 2016, the Pew Research Center (non-partisan and non-advocacy group) compiled data from a poll about how a cross-section of Americans feels about the legality of abortion.
So who wants this law?
The advocacy group, Faith2Action sure does.
They say “all glory goes to God of the Impossible, praise to the name of Jesus” (Although I doubt Jesus would celebrate more women and children being driven into poverty.)
Faith2Action, trust me when I say, I understand where your celebration comes from. You have equated the outlawing of abortion with “saving innocent lives.”
But you have a short-sighted, simplistic view. In my experience, very few issues can ever be boiled down so simply.
Outlawing abortion doesn’t stop women from having one.
Outlawing it just forces it underground. It makes abortion unsafe. It kills women.
In every time and every place on this earth, where abortion has been illegal, women have still done it. Not because they are heartless, selfish sluts. But because, for many, many reasons, they cannot take care of a child.
If we want democracy to work, it can’t just be one side gaining power and forcing their agenda on the whole country.
And we need to learn how to talk to each other.
Pro-lifers cannot just call pro-choicers “murderers” and “selfish sluts.”
Pro-choicers cannot just call pro-lifers “delusional religious fanatics” and “misogynists.”
That kind of language gets us nowhere.
As citizens, we need more dialogue. We need to seek to understand each other and to practice compassion.
While it’s easy for people to say that “you shouldn’t get pregnant if you aren’t ready to be a parent,” life is messy. When you look back at all the things you’ve done in your life, do they all line up neatly in logical rows? Did you consider all the pros and cons and come up to some understanding of the exact “right” decision? The great philosophers and theologians (and the rest of us ordinary people) have been discussing how to live an ethical life for a long, long, time, and I don’t think there’s a consensus. It seems to me like life choices are not part of a predetermined multiple choice test, with God holding the red pen. It feels more like we live out the answers to very open-ended essay questions in in our own imperfect ways*, and try to align as best we can to the principles we value. Even if you say you don’t believe in “moral relativism,” that there is an absolute right and wrong, I don’t see how you live that out in a world that is itself relative, in which all of our decisions have multiple ripple effects, many of which we never see. It’s hard enough to try to make our own ethical decisions, and even trickier to start making them for others.
I think it’s crucial to keep safe options for abortions for all the reasons that you and others have discussed which I will not try to repeat here! In addition, I would like to see people who are pro-life and pro-choice working together to focus on issues such as income inequality and support so that parents can actually care for their children properly regardless of circumstance, supporting easy, guilt-free, affordable or free access to birth control and the morning after pill (Planned Parenthood might not be so evil after all?), free professional counseling to those making tough decisions, with NO HIDDEN AGENDA of persuading someone one way or the other, Paraphrasing something I read recently, we shouldn’t have an attitude of protecting life only until birth! There are many years of tremendous time, energy, and resources to help that child grow into an adult who is able to turn her or his interests and skills into something that becomes a part of a strong, smart, and creative community. Do you think all parents are equipped for this? Do they have the social supports to make it happen? Visit juvenile court proceedings for awhile or get statistics from Children’s Services and you will start to see the heartbreaking answer in process.
*then there is Rilke’s advice to live out the questions themselves: http://www.elise.com/q/quotes/rilke.htm (from letters to a young poet #4, 1903)
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I love Rike’s line, “Live the questions.” That was actually a title of a Bible study that my church did five or six years ago and it was fantastic. The whole concept–explore the hard questions about Christianity that there aren’t easy answers too. Connects very well to this topic right now.