Thursday, January 10, 2013

The seduction of the sound bite

Something weird happened this week.  I said this sort of mildly funny thing on facebook, and a lot of people “liked” it.  By a lot, I mean about 1/3 of my 240ish fans.  Given that facebook has stopped showing my fans the stuff I post, that’s not bad.  (If you don’t know, facebook now only shows each of my posts to somewhere between a quarter and half of my fans because they want me to pay them to show it to all of you.  Grrr. If you don't want to miss anything, like, comment, and/or share some of my facebook stuff!)  Anyway, someone suggested that my little humor nugget was ecard-worthy.  And I thought, hey, yeah, someone writes those.  I can do that. 

So I went and figured out how to do that.  Here is my ecard: 

Ecard created on

I stuck it on my Pam-a-rama ding dong facebook page, and this funny thing happened.  As of this writing, it has been shared over 900 times and viewed by almost 10,000 people.  I have a bunch of new fans, more than making up for the fans I lose every time I post anything about religion. Now I know that 10,000 is not, like, viral viral, but for me with my little blah blah blog, that’s as viral as I get with my clothes on.  The bikini stuff went viral-lite (tens of thousands), but me just talking with my clothes on?  No. For most of my posts, I’m thrilled if I get one or two people sharing the link. 

Then along comes this silly little sound bite, and it is being shared the crap out of.  I’m totally seduced. 

I understand why something like an ecard is so easy to share.  By sharing a link or image on facebook, you are asking your network to commit some amount of time and energy looking at that thing.  The payoff had better be worth the commitment.  If you’re posting a 20-minute TED talk, that had better be the best damn TED talk ever, because 20 minutes of video is the facebook equivalent of War and Peace.  I have posted one TED talk ever, the Brené Brown vulnerability one, because I feel confident that what she has to say is worth your 20 minutes.  A five minute video also has to be pretty good, because five minutes is still kind of a long time, especially for video.  You can read a blog post on your phone in line at the grocery store or while sitting at a park watching your kids or whatever.  But video requires either earphones or the acceptability of sound.  That’s a commitment! 

I snark, but I also mean it.  Of course it’s ridiculous that five or even twenty minutes is considered a long time.  But it is.  We are bombarded by information all day every day.  If every piece of information took twenty or even five minutes to absorb, we would have time for nothing else.  Maybe I prefer blogs and text because I am a fast reader.  Nothing takes me twenty minutes to read. 

The time to absorb an ecard is measured in seconds.  Like, less than five seconds.  I am a fan of a few facebook pages that pretty much just share ecards and other funny stuff.  They scour through all of the dreck on the internet and curate a collection for my amusement.  On any given evening, they might post five or ten doodads, adding up to less than a one minute commitment on my part.  And maybe I’ll laugh.  Laughter is good.  Maybe I’ll feel less existentially alone when I chuckle and think to myself, “Yeah, totally.”  That’s a pretty good payout for a few seconds of my time.   

That is all to say that I get why ecards are easy to share.  But here’s why I’m seduced.  I want to get my ideas “out there.”  I want to reach people, connect.  It’s part of the reason I blog.  And ecards… so easy… so instant gratification… so many people reading something that I created.  That’s so cool.  Maybe they will chuckle to themselves and feel less existentially alone.  By the thousands.  Sexy.

But here’s why it feels like a seduction and not true love.  I have more to say.  More than can fit in a 5-second ecard.  When I write a post and people email me to tell me they cried when they read it, or that it touched them or changed them, that’s the juice.  That’s the true love.  The idea that something I say or do could touch someone deeply… that’s what nourishes me and makes me feel genuinely connected. 

I started this blog thinking it would be a humor blog.  Sometimes it is.  I am occasionally funny.  But the stuff that gets me excited is the serious stuff.  The peeling away of my layers of self-protection until I stand before you all in authenticity and self-acceptance, with the hope, the deep hope, that my truth will help someone else see or accept or navigate their own. 

There’s nothing sound-bitey about that.  Widespread light connection is good.   It feels good.  Maybe a bunch of people laughed just a tiny bit more in the past couple of days because of me.  That’s good.  I’ll make more ecards if I ever have another amusing thought, because more laughter in the world is good.  But I’m content with my couple of hundred fans if I can continue to be this real and this exposed (and this excessively wordy), in the hope that the connection we make will be deeper.  That not only will we feel less alone, but maybe we will actually be less alone.

Update: Four days after posting the ecard, It has been shared 4,500 times and viewed by 35,000 people.  I have 57 new fans on the blog facebook page, which is something like a 20% increase.  I know it's not true love, but it sure is fun while it lasts!

Update #2: Did I say viewed by 35,000?  As of today (5 days after posting it for the first time), it has been SHARED by about 35,000 people, probably more that I don't know about.  I have 50% more fans than I had a week ago.  I'm thinking of instituting ecard Fridays.  My blog pageviews are way up too, like 5 or 6 times higher than usual.  I don't want to dilute the blog with a lot of fluff, but I'm extremely curious whether I can make lightning strike twice.  


  1. Pam - I think you're hilarious! I recently sent an evite out to a bunch of my girlfriends for my upcoming 40th birthday - put on there 'as much as two twenty year olds' - so when I saw your ecard - it was just too perfect not to share! Keep your cards and blogs coming!

    1. Yay! I'm definitely as much fun as two of myself at twenty.

  2. I love your equating ecards with seduction, not true love. "I have more to say." Lovely, lovely, true. What a wonderful post. My favorite thing about Facebook is when the seduction leads to true love. And while it's early to say it about me and your blog, I'm glad I took the time to read the more you had to say. And I'll be back. Because you have to start somewhere. :) And I'll be jumping on the bandwagon, by the way, and sharing your card. <3

    1. I think the fact that you punctuated the word brilliant "Brill. Iant." on my fb page indicates that we are probably cut from similar cloth. Do you have a blog? Clicking around like a stalker didn't immediately reveal it.

  3. that e-card was hilarious! love your blog!

  4. Love your blog and your candidness!

  5. I guess the takeaway is that it's good to be funny, and even better to be funny faster.

  6. My darling Pam-- You are the brilliant, the funny, the insightful, the poignant, the authentic Pam ever, and pure gold in my book. Thank you for this! And passing on the card idea too! You rock as always! THinking of the kids today too and tell them Miss Zorina( if they remember) sends dinosaur kisses!