If you happen to visit any of the ex-Mormon circles I visit, then you’ve probably heard of Robert. Robert is an ex-Mormon with a video in the style of those “I’m a Mormon” videos that the church has just started promoting. But if you haven’t seen Robert, here is his video:
Robert’s story is cool enough, I suppose, but what I find more intriguing is how often I’ve heard about Robert.
See, I first found out about Robert from a Main Street Plaza post featuring his video. But that first introduction would be far from the last.
Let me try to count the place I’ve heard of Robert from. I have seen numerous tweets from Chino Blanco’s twitter account, another one from the Main Street Plaza twitter account, a reddit on the main reddit board, not to mention reddits from 10 other subreddit areas, each which manages an at-best tenuous connection with Mormons and ex-Mormonism (e.g., at first it was cute to see reach-outs to any ex-Catholic or ex-Jehovah’s Witness reddits, but then when Robert’s story was linked to the lgbt reddit as advertisement that “Young Mormons are leaving their church in droves because of prop 8,” I was amused to see chino field address criticisms that Robert probably didn’t have anything to do with Prop 8).
Note that all of these promotions so far have come from one individual.
But Robert’s story has been promoted by others. Obviously, if you saw the video from me, then I can assure you that I am a (dis)tinct person from Chino Blanco. I’ve seen the video linked at USU SHAFT, Whore of All the Earth, Further Light and Knowledge (wait, that one was posted by CB…never mind), and I’m sure I’ve missed several other places.
I guess it’s as TechCrunch wrote about viral media…if you want to go viral, be a(n) (ex)-Mormon! I can’t help but recognize that this seems to be an effective strategy (I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I know I’ve seen people talking about it), but I also can’t help but feel a bit (dis)turbed by it.
As I mentioned before (and as you might have surmised), so much of the promotion is coming from one individual. I guess one could say, “Well, hard work and dedication is a pro, not a con,” but I feel then that this is all manufactured in a way to which I’d rather have not been privy.
I am reminded of various attempts to “pharyngulate” various polls on the internet. People seem to be quite enthusiastic about getting a certain result (e.g., a “win” for science or rationalism or whatever in some poll), even if it means debasing the very foundation of the poll (the idea that it could — in some way — capture the views of a broad public).
I guess I can’t say I’m spotless. The webOS community has united several times in various poll competitions to secure victory for Palm products, as with Laptop Magazine’s March Smartphone Madness. In this sense, it feels like these shows of solidarity are more about the community bonding than anything external.
What can I say? I’m uncomfortable tweeting out any of the links to this site even once, in many cases…I wouldn’t have what it takes to spread something far.
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