Last night, during a pleasant dinner with a few colleagues, conversation turned to this tweet:
Everyone at the table had seen it earlier in the day and had a good laugh. Poor Duey for being so misunderstood! Dog tweets are the best, and so are mom tweets, and this had them both, baby. Congrats to Jeff, Duey, Jeff’s mom, and this unnamed lost dog—about whom I’m a little worried, if I’m being honest—on their write ups in Elite Daily and the Daily Dot.
But then the the conversation took a dark turn. Could the Duey Fail have been manufactured for internet fame? The thing about Moms’ Hilarious Text Fails is that they reassure us that our moms are back home puttering around in nonthreatening ways, popping in only to be helpful or unintentionally hilarious as we navigate a world of difficulty. These tweets reveal our wishes for our mothers: That the things that trouble them be simple (“how do I work my iPhone keyboard?”) and that they possess a fundamental innocence and mom-ness (“you can put marijuana in a brownie?”). In other words, I get the appeal of faking a mom who is so delightfully bumbling as to confuse a stray dog for the one on your couch.
But would @jeff_jssj do that to us? I have absolutely no reason to believe he did, and he didn’t respond to my tweet asking him to talk about this whole situation, so we may never know. But it did give me and my colleague Joanna Rothkopf an idea. Let’s go viral!
Here were the rules: I would be the one to tweet the tweet, since despite how penetrating and funny my tweets routinely are, not that many people follow me. This would mimic the conditions of a tweet from a civilian that goes on to viral fame. The tweet would have only one evening to take off because that’s the incubation period of a viral tweet. And it would have to truly go viral, not just get more engagement than a typical tweet by me containing a great observation such as:
We spent the next ten minutes coming up with a tweet we thought had all the elements of virality: moms, dogs, edible marijuana, and a screen shot. We could not work vaping in, but we tried. Here’s what we came up with:
I regret to tell you that Jimmy is not my dog, I would never leave gummy bears, narcotic or otherwise, just lying around, and “Mom” is actually just what I changed Joanna’s contact to in my phone’s address book.
It did pretty well despite the prediction of another of my colleagues that “when you wake up tomorrow you’re gonna have like 18 retweets and 34 likes [and feel like the idiot that you are].” But it didn’t go viral. I suppose this proves that all those moms out there texting their kids “grandpa died lol” thinking “lol” stands for “lots of love” are real.
Kelly Stout is Senior Editor of the Special Projects Desk, which produces investigative work across all of Gizmodo Media Group’s web sites.