Thursday, March 25, 2010
Your Mom Has Taken Over My Life
Photo by Tenysa Santiago
Sorry. That should read "Your Mom" has taken over my life. "What's that Sir Rantalot? What do you mean?"
Well as you may have heard (but probably not, I do have illusions about my reach in the world) I'm getting my fifteen minutes of fame. Back in July I decided to poke fun at a coworker by making up some "Yo momma" jokes. Specifically jokes that started with, "Your mom is so Berkeley..." We thought it was all pretty funny so I posted some of the good ones as a note on my facebook page. In the note I encouraged my friends to add their own "Your mom is so Berkeley" jokes.
After a while, as the note was shared around, I created a facebook group so we could reach a wider group of people. I figured this would be something we'd giggle about for a week or so and then it would fade away. But a funny thing happened. People I didn't even know started joining the group and posting jokes. When the group got to 50 members I was astounded. When it got to 300 members I sent out a message to the members thanking them for making the group "the most successful thing I've ever done on the internet." After that I didn't look at it for a long time because I figured that was that.
Then we got mentioned on what I thought of as "some guy's blog." It turns out it was on Berkeleyside which is a Berkeley news blog founded by some pretty serious journalists. This marked the first time someone mentioned a potential book from the material on the group. Since I didn't know who Berkeleyside was at the time I thanked them, posted a link on the group and again pretty much forgot about it. I checked in now and then to read the new posts, a couple more people suggested a book, but I really didn't think much of it.
Until about three weeks ago. That's when I went back to check it out and found that we had over 950 members. I watched it like a hawk for the next few days waiting for it to hit 1,000. When we hit that nice round number I sent out another facebook message thanking the members for their contributions. That message led to our second appearance on Berkeleyide.
What I said in the 1,000 members message is true. I really do see the concept as a way of honoring my mom through humor and community connection. I can't believe something I thought of as a way to kill time at work has touched so many people. There's something there that helps us Berkeley kids see our common bonds after growing up looking at the rest of the country and feeling like freaks.
Anyway, two Fridays back I received a facebook message from a reporter for the New York Times asking if I wouldn't mind being interviewed about the group. Sure, why not? The article came out in the Bay Area section of the New York Times on Friday, March 18th, 2010. I have to say, it was a pretty cool thing to see. When the interview was done the reporter mentioned that a lot more people might see the group after the article was published. Just as before I thought, "Sure, how many people read the NYT online?" Well it turns out it's a lot. But the article didn't just show up there. It was in the print edition (which I didn't expect). The other thing I didn't know was that when something appears in the NYT online it gets picked up and re-posted in a million places. Well, around 2,640 places according to Google. But that's a lot and includes NPR. NPR! I started thinking, "Maybe this book idea isn't so crazy after all."
In the past week and a half since the article we've added 580 members. It's crazy. In order to keep up the momentum I've added a blog and a Twitter account. These two endevors have taken up a lot of time. Today I read a post by a group member who mentioned that he saw a teaser on our local NBC affiliate's eleven o'clock new cast about a story on the group. Today I waited for two hours before they rescheduled to Friday. So now I might be on TV. For this thing that started on facebook. It's crazy.
I've been Sir Rantalot for six years, pounding out opinions for a readership of roughly six people. Now, in nine months I'm getting fifteen minutes of minor local attention for something that took me six minutes to come up with. Maybe this is my "Java Jacket." The simple idea that starts without fanfare that turns into something bigger than the creator expected. I know I never expected this. But now with the blog going, and the group growing, I'm trying to get this book out there. If it comes to fruition I'll be pretty stoked. I guess you never know what will come of your ideas.