How my “viral” Instagram reel changed my perspective of notoriety.

Around March or April, I posted a reel using a filter that would “show” the world what I’d look like as a man. I had seen a few other girls do this and figured it was fun and harmless. The filter gave a few different choices of facial hair and other attributes. I chose a full, but nicely maintained, beard and a facial scar through an eyebrow. It felt very Pirates of the Caribbean and I clicked “SHARE” and off my reel went into Instagram-land!

I did not expect the video to take off the way that it did! When it caught attention (and it didn’t immediately; it took a few days), it LIT UP and within 48 hours of that, it had surpassed 500K views. A day or two after that, it was over a million. When it hit 1,014,401 views, I deleted it…and here’s why:

The comments.

A handful eluded to the fact that these filters made them feel bad about themselves. No one should ever be comparing themselves to a filter. The people that use filters (and sometimes that includes me!) don’t even look like their filters.

Other comments were from people affirming the attractiveness of the filter. That’s fine; but it is still fantasy.

Then came the rude ones. I didn’t try interact with everyone because I quickly learned I couldn’t reason with people when they’re determined to be negative energy. With a video I meant as silly and light-hearted, I had granted access to myself for people to criticize. It was apparent that they didn’t know, or care, that they were talking to another human online. A 38 year old woman who is comfortable in her skin and who’s likely old enough to be their mother.

Deleting it before it could garner more attention felt like the best choice. Not only did I get to avoid the potential of further negativity toward myself, others, and even themselves, but I also got my notification feed back and could see where my friends and family were interacting to my content. Those notifications had been buried underneath the reel interactions for the duration the video was active.

So, I don’t truly know if there’s a magic number that determines whether a reel is “viral”, but this occurrence has changed my perspective on the type of content I post online and how I talk about it in the description. I don’t want to further people’s insecurities about themselves, especially when they are comparing it to something fake. I don’t want to give unhappy strangers an open platform to air their assumptions about me and my life.

My experience was small compared to popular influencers and celebrities whose comment sections are often peppered – if not outright drenched – with criticisms. Because they’re in the public eye, the dregs of the public seem to think it’s acceptable to leave whatever negative thought-diarrhea comes to mind on reels, posts, and news/media/gossip articles. It seems oppressive and its complete unnecessary. Imagine would could be done if these people shifted the bad energy into good.

Since my reel, I pay closer attention to the comments I leave. I do not leave negativity on anyone’s posts, which if you knew me around 10-15 years ago, you’d never believe it! I was an online shit-talker with the best (a/k/a the worst) of them. I was extremely unhappy, insecure, and mad at the world that nothing ever seemed to work out for me. I was unable to see that the true problem was me; I was too full of piss and vitriol.

But I’m too old for that now and I have better things to do.


Hey, you! Sometimes I see here that my posts have been ‘shared’ on Facebook. If you do share, would you mind leaving a comment below? I’m genuinely curious who I’m connecting with and who is sharing my content! Thank you – go forth and be a kick-ass human.

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