Did you see the McGillicuddy’s viral #Shareacoke baby announcement? I had the privilege of chatting with this amazing couple about what it’s like going viral, and I’m honored to share their thoughts and some of mine over at Her.meneutics.
Soon after Los Angeles pastor Patrick McGillicuddy and his wife Whitney posted their baby announcement video a couple weeks ago, theirs became the pregnancy heard round the world.
Inspired by Coca-Cola’s personalized #ShareACoke cans, the couple cracked open can after can of Diet Coke in what has been dubbed the “best baby announcement ever;” featured on Good Morning America, E!, the Huffington Post, and across the web; and seen by more than 4 million people.
And pregnant couples all over began planning their own clever and adorable ways to outdo them.
After all, we live in an era of personal moments shared on social media, of milestones turned to grand gestures. From wedding aisle dances to surprise proposals, we’ve seen special moments between couples unexpectedly explode as viral videos. (Remember the flash mob style marriage proposal set to Bruno Mars’ “I Think I Wanna Marry You”? That precious little slice of that couple’s life has been viewed over 27 million times in the last 2 years.)
Understandably, we worry about this kind of Internet publicity overshadowing the moment itself. Our cultural love of grand gestures—even I can’t resist watching that flashmob proposal over and over—may build up expectations and lead us to believe that traditional, straightforward announcements are, as one writer worries, “less meaningful, less important, less loving, less special.”
The trend of elaborate proposals and viral announcements has led to backlash. Blogger Kerri Sackville offers this critique:
To me, the whole phenomenon speaks of desensitization. We are no longer sufficiently moved by the wonderful news of a pregnancy. We need more excitement, more titillation; we need the announcement to be bigger and brighter and wittier. We need special effects and pyrotechnics and showgirls and dancers. We need lights and cameras and action, and we need the whole thing uploaded to YouTube so we can share it with our friends.
Yet, many of these videos go viral by accident—after all, no one can really anticipate when a particular clip will be shared again and again and watched by millions. Patrick and Whitney’s video entered my feed through a mutual friend, so I got in touch with them to ask about the announcement and all the publicity they’ve received.
It turns out, the young couple did not set off to ride on the fame of the #ShareACoke campaign or get featured on the morning shows, they were just having fun to share the news with friends. Weeks earlier, with the cameras off, Whitney told her husband, a children’s ministry pastor, that she was expecting. They shared special, private moments telling family and close friends. They didn’t need voiceovers or catchphrases to celebrate—they’d been celebrating their new life already.