Going Viral

“It’s gone viral.”

I posted a video on the evening of June 10 highlighting the past twelve “first day of school interviews” that we had shown at our daughter’s graduation party. I thought a few people might get a kick out of seeing her “grow up” in the span of a few minutes. When I went to bed a few hours later, it had been seen by 10,000 people. I thought that was pretty cool. The next day this simple video trended on the front page of reddit and was the #2 trending video on YouTube. We had interview requests, friend requests, all kinds of requests. It’s was a crazy experience. Now, a week later, that same video, in one form or another, has been see by millions of people all around the world.

The phrase “going viral” is this idea that something is being shared and/or duplicated over and over. In the internet world, being viral is a short lived experience. Before that video was posted, I was an unknown. A week later… yup, I’m back to being an unknown.  This week I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people. It has been fun hearing stories of their own experiences with their kids or parents. It got me thinking about this whole viral concept. You and I have the opportunity every single day to go “viral” in the lives of people around us. It may be your kid, your spouse, a friend or a complete stranger. Hold on, hold on, before you roll your eyes and move on to something else, lets talk this through.

I have a friend who coaches his daughter in basketball. I have another friend who took his son on a backpacking trip this week. I know people that write notes, play with legos, lay on the bed and just talk. That’s nice Kevin but what if you don’t have kids? You have coworkers, friends, neighbors, complete strangers that you can engage with every single day. This morning I was the first customer for the cashier at my local Target. We talked about her register being slow because I was her first customer, we laughed a little about her putting my item in a bag and then we wished each other well. I hope I made her day a little better, I know she did for me. My point is that you and I can share something, duplicate it over and over, every single day. The video I posted was just a way of capturing one thing that I do in my kid’s lives. There are bunches of things that you and I do every single day that will never make it to YouTube but will have a far lasting impact. Let me give you a very recent example. I’m a pastor, and this week in the midst of all this viral-ness, I had another first. Someone called our office and said they wanted to commit suicide. As I am talking to this person on the phone, a little bit of their story came out. My heart broke as this person shared how they believed that their life didn’t matter, that no one cared about whether they lived or died. After a long fifteen minutes, they agreed to go to their counseling appointment and a few hours later called back, much calmer, and said they were checking in to a treatment program that day.

Why do I tell you this story? You and I have the opportunity to engage with  people every single day, whether in our home or in our community. We don’t always know what is happening in their lives. You might be talking to someone who is having a rough day and not even know it. You may not realize the impact you will have by just saying “hello”, looking them in the eye, asking about their life, sharing a compliment. If you are a spouse or have kids, a simple thank you or playing a board game (hey I’m 47 and my wife and I play cards all the time) or sitting on the bed before they go to sleep, can make a huge difference. A Huge Difference. I told a reporter this week that there are lots of parents, who are doing things every single day. They just didn’t make it a video and post it online. You want long lasting impact that will have real meaning? Keep engaged with those around you. Do it every day, some where, in some way. You may not see it in that exact moment, but if you string a few of them together, over the course time, you will realize that you just went “viral”.

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