Read my essay on marrying for love and visas at 22 in Osaka here.
broweLast week, I wrote an article on the Huffington Post entitled “5 Ways to Connect With Your Spouse When Kids Own Your Lives.” It was a cute (if not exactly “disruptive”) piece about the ways my husband, Brady, and I communicate with children underfoot. I thought it would be in good company on alongside other non-disruptive Parenting HuffPost articles like “Why Coffee Mugs are More than Just Cups” (because "They add a little 'personality' to our mornings") or “Lentil Soup Recipes That Won’t Bore You To Death” ("Of all the soup recipes out there to choose from, lentil soup is the most unassuming"). So I published my marital tips--and then I crammed them down people’s throats.
On Twitter, in Facebook, on BabyCenter, on StumbleUpon, on Instagram, on this blog, in Mommy groups: I shared this thing everywhere. HuffPost says if you can drive enough traffic to your post, they’ll consider featuring it on a main page. (For the record, when you post like I did, you get a link to share with people that doesn't connect anywhere to other HuffPost articles: you are essentially writing on HuffPost stationery). The promise of being featured is exciting when you're a nobody in desperate need of Internet street cred. But HuffPost doesn't tell you what “enough traffic” means when it comes to bumping yourself to the front page. And then, because they’re sadists, they publish a Like counter on their articles so you can spend whole days obsessing over the Like counts of other posts that actually get picked up.
My post was Liked 171 times. While this is nowhere near Pregnant Dog Totally Slays Maternity Photo Shoot (37k likes), it has more than 5 Things Moms Can Do To Try and Stay Sane (55 likes)--both featured on the Parents page last week. Am I butthurt about this? Slightly. But no one’s more pissed than Brady, who actually emailed HuffPost to ask what the deal was with their nonsensical posting logic. The two of us spent a week obsessively checking the parenting page throughout the day. “Can you believe they picked up lentil soup instead of our kids?" Unreal. Give me a break.
Of course, we might be biased. Maybe my post was rubbish, but I'm not so sure considering it was shared a bunch of times--mostly by friends who probably don't have the heart to tell me it's rubbish, but also by a few strangers. “I sent this to my husband,” someone told me. “This is really refreshing,” said someone else. I didn’t expect my latest fame grab to resonate with people, but I admit the compliments took the sting out of losing above-the-fold to a knocked-up golden retriever.
I don't consider the HuffPost experiment a total defeat. For one thing, if you share something with a recognized masthead on it, people are more likely to take it seriously (I learned this when my mother texted me at midnight with OMG YOU'RE ON HUFFPOST)--so the platform does have its perks. I learned some valuable (and obnoxious) self-promotion strategies, and I got some kind words from total strangers.
But the best affirmation came from Brady, whose birthday was last Monday, the same day I posted my article. “I have a scheme to get you likes,” he said. "You just wait." Over dinner he told me that morning he'd emailed George Takei, the king of viral Facebook, to ask him to share my article as a birthday present. Mr. Takei never got back to us (for the record, George, I still love you), but Brady showed me the email he sent, which lauded my beauty and writing talent and skills at wifery and mothering--the things you never say to your spouse when you're rushing to get through the dishes at night, the kind of spontaneous validation you can't get even with a thousand Internet likes. If I could add more tips for staying close to your spouse (kids or no kids), it would be these: Write to celebrities to tell them how wonderful your partner is, and hold tight to each other's stupid, shameful dreams.
Anyway, Brady won’t let me publish the e-mail he sent because he’s not a narcissist—which is too bad because I'm pretty sure “Husband Asks George Takei for a Birthday Present for his Fame-Whore Wife” would totally go viral.
PRO TIPS WHEN PUBLISHING ON HUFFPOST
--Use Google Chrome: All other browsers will cause issues with the preview text
--Don't lead with an Instagram photo: The preview text in the share bar will be like "Photo taken by