Last week something strange happened. Well, something I think is strange, anyhow. It has to do with what I call the “mystery box” that is social media and the internet. For four years now I’ve been operating our sangha’s facebook page, Be Here Now Community. In those four years we’ve accumulated around 360 page likes. I post on it pretty much everyday – things regarding our sangha or mindfulness center, quotes I stumble upon, recommended books, mindfulness articles, nice pictures, and the like. Lately our posts reach about 100-200 people on average (so facebook tells me). We hardly ever receive comments or post “likes,” and it would be super rare that someone “share” one of our posts. So our page, while active with posts, has been small potatoes in the land of facebook, with very little activity by way of engagement of visitors.
Well, over the last week things have changed very rapidly with our (and my) first experience with a viral post. On April 14th I posted this on our sangha’s facebook page:
“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.
“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“Yes, but —”
“Why ruin it?” he said.
“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.
“I am, ” said Pooh.
“Oh? Doing what?”
“Listening,” he said.
“Listening to what?”
“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”
“What are they saying?” I asked.
“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you know that already,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.
– From the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
What I thought was a nice, simple offering on our page turned out to awaken a LOT of people from all parts of the globe. As of right now this post has reached 2,704,978 people. It’s been shared 24,387 times, has 2,189 comments, and over 42,000 have “liked’ or “loved” it. This post has also gained us 3,754 more page likes. Holy Toledo! I’ve never claimed to understand the magical workings of social media but this one really boggles my mind. It has been incredibly fascinating watching these numbers soar ever upwards over the last few days. It has me wondering: What is it about this post from the Tao of Pooh that has struck people so strongly?
I had had this book out on our coffee table when my husband picked it up last week and just happened to open up to the section with the above dialog. When he was done reading it out loud I said to him, “Oh, that would be a nice thing to post on our facebook page.” So I posted it.
I would recommend reading this book, if you haven’t done so. It is quite clever and insightful. There’s also a follow up book that the author came out with, years later, called The Te of Piglet. I’ve never been a big Winnie the Pooh fan myself. While I enjoyed the cartoon growing up, and like reading the books to young ones, I can’t say I’ve had a special interest in the characters or have been overly intrigued by the content. But this book is very well crafted. The characters take on a whole new, much deeper, dimension. It’s worth checking out.
I realized, just this morning, while writing a long letter to a friend of mine who’s currently in prison, that my having been required to read this book in high school, along with its follow up The Te of Piglet, was not only wonderfully unusual for a standard suburban public school to assign, but may very well have planted the first seeds, to sprout much later, on the Buddhist path I now find myself on. It has been delicious food for thought since this insight arose early this morning.
And, while I originally had the book out in order to donate it to a little free library box, that sits a few doors down the street in front of a small neighborhood coffee shop, I am now inspired to re-read the book instead :)