On February 1st, Chris Harrigan told a story on Facebook. It was said to be “the stuff that memes are made of.” It was a cute little story, the type you’d read on Reader’s Digest if you were born before the Internet. Then, it went viral.
The story was simple: A guy was feeding seagulls near the Frankston Line. He didn’t feed the seagulls enough to satisfy them; rather, he seemed to tease them by giving them just bits here and there. Then, he decided to troll both the seagulls and the passing train. He threw the bag of chips inside the train, and the hangry—hungry and angry—seagulls followed. Pandemonium ensued, accentuated by the punchline, ‘The next train stop was five minutes away.’
Chris Harrigan is from Melbourne and he said that it was his friend’s story. One of his friends encouraged him to make the post public, saying it’ll go viral. Then, Mikey Nicholson of BuzzFeed Australia tweeted the story, and the rest is history. As of this writing, Chris Harrigan’s original post has been shared 940 times, while Mikey Nicholson’s tweet has garnered 5,950 likes and 6,571 retweets.
Chris Harrigan has since posted his own blow-by-blow account of the minutiae surrounding the story, with the bottom line of, “I need to get a freaking life and get off the Internet. (This applies to those reading this.)”
The story of this story is definitely an object lesson in the virality of the Internet. If this were a Reader’s Digest story published 30 years before, it’d be a nice read and the author or contributor of the story would never know how far his story went or how many people got to read it.
In today’s social media-obsessed world, we know the stats: A total of 156 Facebook Likes, 940 Facebook reshares, 5,950 Twitter likes, 6,571 retweets (and counting).