Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Greatest E-Complishment, Or How Some Guy's Wife Got Me To The Top Spot On Reddit

Today on reddit, every other new submission is a version of the "60 year-old girl" meme. Did you ever wonder how these things get started? I mean who was that one person who put caption to photo, starting a phenomenon?

Answer: Me!

The story: For a few hours last night, the #1 thing on reddit was a post called "My wife looked like a 60 year old woman as a child." The link went to a shot of the wife's childhood photo being held in the guy's hand:

My first thought was that this should be a meme. The "old lady girl." But I figured it'd already been done, as things move fast in the e-world. Still, I cropped the photo, gave the "little lady" a title ("60 year-old girl"), and added the first caption that popped into my head:

Funny, but not front page funny, unless you get the reference. And that's what reddit is all about: timing. Everything has to go right for a submission to take off. Usually you get one upvote and your little idea goes into e-blivion. But if you get some votes right away, more people see it. And if they like it, you get more votes, which leads to more exposure, which leads to more votes, and on and on. I've submitted lots of things that I thought were the best thing in the world, but they usually die a quick death. In this case, everything was perfect, especially the timing. Anybody coming to reddit at that moment had seen the original photo, since it was on the front page, and now they were seeing my thing--they got the reference, my caption was mildly funny and fit the image, and the next thing I knew, my vote total was skyrocketing.

Long story short, two hours later, 10,000 people had said Yes to 60 Year-Old Girl. It not only made the front page, it settled in at the top spot. I had a Yaz-like 400 comments and 3,000 points.

What I really wanted was for this to become a meme as opposed to just an "image macro." In current-speak, I hoped it would become a thing. When I woke up this morning, I found out that it had. Another version of 60YOG was #1. A few hours later, yet another was in the top 3. And a check of the "new" queue shows that this thing has exploded, with every third submission being a 60YOG:

She even has a twitter account now! And some website (who clearly doesn't know the whole story) has reported on this like it's news!

Of course, the credit for this very, very, very important episode goes to the guy who posted the initial photo. Or really the wife, who had no idea she'd go to bed one night anonymous, and wake up the next day a meme. Or her childhood self, anyway. Lots of comments at my post were of the "this guy's getting a divorce" variety. But I don't see how the wife could be mad--she has a hilarious childhood pic and now it's famous! I even chatted via comments with the guy and he was not mad, just a little upset at himself for the fact that someone in his post had asked for a current picture of the wife and he posted that, deleting it after his post had gotten famous (before mine took that fame to the next level).

Above is from 1:38 a.m., shortly after I reached #1. You can see that the submitter's name and the logged-in name are the same, which is (vital!) proof that I was the submitter.

So if you see the 60 year-old girl floating around these next couple of weeks...no, let's say days...now you know where she came from. Would somebody have made her into a meme if I hadn't? Probably. But screw that mythical person, I'm the man! And I'm happy. This thing could go anywhere, and nobody's gonna know I started it. But the point was to get it going, and I succeeded. It wasn't mine anyway. I just gave it wings. "This is not my tune/but it's mine to use." (But if it makes "Know Your Meme" they better link to this blog post!)

It's almost like the end of Pump Up The Volume when you start to hear all the voices of Christian Slater-influenced disaffected youths come out of the night! Almost...
You continue to make me proud to be your mom. My son the meme-maker.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States