2017 has been a busy year. I kept my budding freelance career going, learned to drive and got married!
Oh yes, and me and my husband went a tiny bit viral.
Back in 2014, Phil and I met on Twitter. We’d followed each other for a few months when I jokingly posted a tweet looking for a date at my sister’s wedding. Phil replied, then in our tweeting back and forth, I pretended that I wanted to marry him. I can’t lie, looking back at my ham-fisted flirtation is pretty embarrassing. I hadn’t even met him! I actually said, “See you at the altar”. Who does that?!
Of course, he didn’t actually come to my sister’s wedding, but we met for the first time soon after. We spent every weekend together and fell in love, then a few months later he moved in. He surprised me by proposing on a wet Welsh beach and we were married at a small register office ceremony this year. Admittedly, we didn’t actually get wed at an altar!
It was soon after our wedding day that my mind returned to that portentous Twitter conversation from before we met. Messing about online while packing for our honeymoon, I realised we had got married almost three years ago the day after we’d joked about it. So I did what anyone would do and quote-tweeted it with the addition, “Almost exactly three years later, I can say... Reader, I married him.”
It got some retweets and likes, then more, then a lot more. We were bemused, was this tweet actually “doing numbers”? He shrugged, we carried on packing. A short while later, I looked at my Twitter notifications and actually yelped; J.K. Rowling had retweeted it to her millions of followers. O.M.G.
We appeared as a Twitter Moment and were contacted by media outlets wanting to know “our story”. All kinds of places got in touch; newspapers, radio stations, tv shows, viral news sites and women’s magazines from all over the world. Articles soon began appearing. To be honest it made us slightly uneasy because we didn’t want anything negative to overshadow our wedding and honeymoon. Luckily, most of the stories were positive and sweet.
Months later, I did some searching and found that we had appeared in over 100 articles in more than 23 languages, far more than we’d realised at the time. Our story must have been seen by millions of people all over the world and the tweet that went viral clocked in at an impressive 5.6 million impressions alone. It sounds trite but our story didn’t even feel that special, we just happened to do a bit of public flirting with some accidental foreshadowing.
It wasn’t all positive, a few people in comment sections made snide remarks, often about my appearance. If you ever feel compelled to make a harsh comment about a stranger in an article, please remember they are real people with feelings and they could read your words. I saw several remarks about my weight, the mole on my face, along with an inventive selection of sexist insults. It wasn’t the end of the world, I’d been steeled for worse, but I can imagine that many have had their feelings badly hurt in similar situations.
Which leads to my final point. If 2017 has taught me anything, it’s that we should all turn our kindness levels up to eleven. Really crank it up. The world seems to get darker and sadder with each day that passes and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling this keenly right now.
We can’t fix the world, but in small ways we can help. It doesn’t have to be financial, your time is valuable too. Volunteer at a local organisation for the disabled. Help your elderly neighbours. Assist a local food bank. Collect items for your local women’s refuge. Don’t assume the worst of people, especially those who are struggling. Be kind, more than anything else, just be kind. Our news is filled with shocking and upsetting stories from all sides and I hope that 2018 sees the tides turn.
And don’t forget, you can find love in the strangest of places. Even when you’re arsing about on Twitter.
This blog is part of HuffPost UK’s 12 days of Christmas series. From 20 December we will bring you blogs and vlogs from individuals at the centre of some of 2017′s biggest news stories. They will reflect on the past 12 months and also look forward to new year. To find out more follow our hashtag #HuffPost12Days or visit our series page.