The Unintended Social Experiment

It’s been a little quiet around here because a LOT has been happening behind the scenes.

First, I had spent the better part of the beginning of this year working on the first round of edits for my upcoming book. Just as soon as I finished those edits, I was recording two leadership training videos. The literal next day after finishing the video edits, I started a brand new job which was opening up a Sprouts Farmers Market in my home city. Opening a store is a adventure and a lot of work. As an operations manager I was able to help 100 people start a new job, with a great company, and it is a joy to see jobs opening in my city. The majority of our residents commute to nearby counties for their work.

As a result, I’ve been working a crazy schedule with varied hours based on what needed to be done that day. I’m super grateful for a husband and kids who picked up the slack like champs. The house didn’t fall into chaos, people got to school on time, and for the most part it’s not been a lack of my presence but just a matter of being extraordinarily tired. Opening a store is a marathon, a lot to do, in a short amount of time, and then once on the other side you can stop and catch your breath and let your body rest. You move into the rhythms of the every day job which is entirely different.

This is not my first store that I’ve opened, but first with Sprouts. I actually LOVE opening a store.

One day, I came home after a long day. I hadn’t even made it through the foyer when my husband said… “I made a mistake.”

My husband had made breakfast and lunch, using two of my cast iron pieces. Which he promptly put into the dishwasher. Now you understand the photo.

He didn’t know. He’s never even cooked with cast iron before. I’m mostly thankful that these were two newer pieces and not my grandmother’s skillet. I didn’t make a big deal about it, explained not to do it again, but that with some elbow grease I’d get them back in order.

We laughed about it. I went to twitter, where my normal posts get around 20 likes, and posted the picture and a simple statement.

After the post, I hopped off the internet to make dinner.

I had no idea what was going to happen next.

My phone was pinging with notifications non stop. Likes. Retweets. Comments.

I couldn’t even keep up with them. I tried.

This went on for days. Then weeks. It’s been a month and not a day goes by that I don’t get a notification.

I believe this is what “going viral” is like, and I am bewildered.

Inadvertently, I stumbled into a social experiment and decide to watch it ride out. I posted very little after that. I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire with new content trying to coerce more attention. I wanted to see the natural flow and progression.

I wouldn’t never have guess that a month would pass and people would still have any interest, let alone still engage with that post.

I used no hashtags to draw people there.

Just a photo and a statement.

In addition to watching the numbers rise, I found myself even more intrigued by the comments. Here is what I learned or observed over the last month…

  1. The internet, especially twitter, has very strong opinions on the keeping and care of cast iron. Some were absolutely astounded that my husband didn’t know better, and others shared that they too had made the same error. There were even a few who lamented over the work it takes to keep cast iron and that’s why they no longer use it.
  2. The majority of the people who commented are hysterical. Some of my favorite comments said things like… “You mean your ex-husband” or questions about whether or not he survived the evening. I had a few people offer to help me hide the body, and even a few marriage proposals that included their credentials in cast iron care.
  3. Despite the fact that I never asked for how to restore my cast iron, I received many step by step how to’s, links to tutorials, and even information on a business where I can send them to and they will restore them for me.
  4. There were of course a fair share of comments along the lines of “so what?” or “it’s not that big a deal”. Clearly reading more into my few words that I intended.
  5. Several people decided to chastise me over my own “care” of cast iron because they felt they must not have been seasoned properly in the first place if one single dishwasher cycle did that much damage. Which resulted in my having to clarify that they were newer pieces.
  6. A very small percentage were absolutely horrified that I would publicly shame my husband on twitter for likes, accused me of being emotionally/mentally abusive to my husband, and one went so far to report me to twitter over it.

I’ll let that last one sink in a bit.

When I told my husband about it, he just laughed.

The ridiculousness of the internet.

He said he couldn’t have cared less that I posted it. He found most of the comments funny. And, in the end was so nonchalant about the entire thing. He said the simple truth. He didn’t know. His mom never taught him that. I had never explained it to him. And, he had never washed them before.

Historically, when I have used my cast iron, as soon as I can, I will clean it out and put it away. It never even makes it near the sink. He’s probably never even witnessed my cleaning it.

This unplanned experiment reveals so much about the way people respond to what happens around them.

My simple sentence was tainted by their own experiences and interpretation. Assumptions were made, accusations too. Conclusions were jumped to, and unsolicited opinions and education were given without reservation.

My next post might be a picture of a flower. I will caption it…

“This is a flower.

That is all.

That is the post.”

And then, I will sit back and see what kind of controversy that stirs up.

PS.

My husband says hi.

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