Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My 15 Seconds

Yes, it's down to 15 seconds.

Perhaps you were under a rock last week and missed this:

which coincided with this:

and ended up with this:

Did I expect to go viral when I woke up Monday morning?  Of course not! I was excited, knowing that I would soon be fulfilling a dream of every Philadelphian - dancing with the Phillie Phanatic at that afternoon's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.  This opportunity had been offered to me by Amy Rodgers, Communications Manager at the Walnut St. Theatre, as part of a promotion for the current production of Sister Act (in which I'm performing one of the Nuns and understudying Mother Superior). I think it took me 30 seconds to respond positively to that email.

While I was excited, I was also a tad concerned for two reasons - #1, it was hot and the original plan was to sit in the stands in our habits for the entire game; and, #2, Kristin Titus and I were singing the National Anthem (not in our habits, to keep the nun appearance a surprise), and gol darn it, if I didn't keep messing up one phrase in our practice sessions! 

Well, we sang the National Anthem and then Kristin, Laura Giknis and I changed into our habits and headed to our seats.  We were there for only a short time before we were invited up on the dugout to dance with the Phanatic and then we were escorted back out, stopping for photos with some fans on the way.  By the time we were back in our street clothes at the top of the 9th inning, I was already receiving Facebook posts from high-school classmates in Wisconsin.  They had already seen us on TV.  Shortly after that, I received word that MLB.com had tweeted out this GIF:

By the next morning, the virus was raging; folks from Philadelphia all the way to Colorado saw us on their local newscasts. My Facebook notifications blew up.

As I write this post 4 days after the event, those three videos are up to over 100,000 views; this photo of Laura Giknis has almost 300,000 views on Instagram alone. Kristin tells me there's a Vine of us that has 7,000,000 views.  Since I don't do Vine, you can go find that one yourself. Apparently, all of this isn't truly viral, but it sure feels like it when you're in the middle of it

Here's what I've learned from going viral:

The actual event is completely separate from the viral event.
I can recall much of the actual event - happily hanging out in the dressing room with Laura, Kristin and a few other Phillies-loving employees of the theatre, singing the National Anthem, walking through the crowd, pretending to bless the pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, (who proceeded to strike out the next 2 batters - just saying), and most of all, looking at my feet as I was dancing on the dugout and thinking "hey, this is me dancing on the dugout with the Phanatic!".

The viral event is filled with the initial recognition that something unusual is going on, followed by an indescribably odd surge through my body, which turns into obsessively checking Facebook on the closest device, incessantly googling "nuns dancing with Phanatic" and answering all the texts, messages, posts, emails and phone calls from all kinds of friends and colleagues.  

It's the strangest feeling.  
Strangers from around the world, strangers were watching and commenting on my actions, but none of them knew it was me.  Which made me assume everyone in the Philadelphia region had to have seen at least one of the videos.  But when I asked my neighborhood grocery store clerk and my dentist if they had seen it, they didn't know what I was talking about. Which led me to the question - Who are these hundreds of thousands of people and why are they watching me?  The me that isn't really me?  And how long will they keep watching? Okay, I knew the answer to that one - not for long.

Don't talk about it.
There have always been people craving attention, but I believe it has gotten worse, primarily due to the way we are now all connected constantly (if we choose).  When those people who crave attention don't get it and someone else does, they get really envious.  No one said anything mean to me, but I could tell that there were quite a few people who weren't pleased for me.  So I did my best to keep quiet.  Not that it mattered, because

What is this all about?
Talk about an existential crisis.  Who am I?  Who is this person everyone is watching?  Are they really watching?  Are they watching me?  Why are they watching?  What are they looking for?  Will this help my career or my blog?  Does it matter?  You can see the rabbit hole this leads down.

The phone battery just dies.

Joy is always a good thing.
Dancing with the Phanatic isn't Shakespeare, but we made a lot of people smile and laugh.  Lord knows we could all use some joy these days.  If that was my purpose for being on this planet last Monday,  I'm okay with that.

Oh yeah, the Phillies lost to the Diamondbacks, 3-1.  But I danced with the Phanatic.

Having trouble watching the videos?  Try going here.