What Makes a Facebook Post Go Viral?

by Kareen King on August 11, 2014

Bird Tsunami! - Photo by Kareen King, Founder of The Golden Experience Bird Tsunami! – Photo by Kareen King, Founder of The Golden Experience


To go viral means communication is quickly and widely spread or popularized electronically, especially by person-to-person forwarding. What makes a thing go viral? It’s a mystery. I know one thing is certain, when your intent is to make a thing go viral, it’s unlikely to happen.  What I didn’t expect was that the following anecdote, which I posted on my Facebook Musician page on July 23, would reach 1750 readers in two days.  Then, as quickly as it spread, it stopped.  Six days later only six more views. It was a momentary sensation. So, why this post and not others? Read on and decide for yourself:

I sat down at the dinner table with a new skilled nursing community resident. It was our first meeting. It went like this:
ME: Do you like it here?
HER: No.
ME: Why not?
HER: It’s the last part. But I accept it.
ME: That’s good.
We talked about her life of 97 years. She showed me her manicured fingers.
HER: They’re crooked.
ME: I’ll bet they have a lot of stories to tell.
HER: Oh yes, I made lots of quilts, did lots of knitting, played baseball. So many stories.
HER: It gets so lonely.
ME: Can I give you a hug?
HER: Yes.
I hugged her.
HER: THAT is what gives me something to look forward to.
ME: WHAT is it you’re saying you look forward to?
HER: You.
ME: Why thank you. You just made my day.
I hugged her again.
HER: Keep caring.

So, I did some exploring and found an answer from Darwin. Darwin wrote a book called The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872.  Darwin says expression showed the basic humanity and the basic unity of all human beings, that we all share the same emotions and the same expressions.  That’s what links us together. Emotion tells us what matters.

I suppose my conversation with Her touches on human emotions we can all identify with. According to author and psychologist, Robert Plutchkik, there are eight basic emotions: 1) fear, 2) anger, 3) sadness, 4) joy, 5) disgust, 6) trust, 7) anticipation, and 8) surprise. The conversation I experienced with Her encompassed six out of eight of Plutchkik’s basic emotions.

First of all, though I didn’t include it in the narrative, she expressed surprise. I was a stranger who appeared suddenly, sat close to her, and stuck around. She did not expect this. Second, she expressed sadness. She knew that her move into a long-term care setting marked that end of her life. Third, she expressed joy as she recounted the happy activities in her life. Fourth, she expressed trust. She felt safe enough to tell me she was lonely. And she allowed me to hug her. Fifth, she expressed anticipation.  She let me know she wanted me back. And sixth, she expressed fear. Not overt fear, but a subtle fear. “Keep caring” implies fear that I might stop caring. More specifically, that I might not return.

Back to the viral question. What makes a Facebook post go viral? It has everything to do with the commonality of human emotion being impacted. So, what would be better than a Facebook post going viral? A tsunami of real, face-to-face acts of kindness and attention!

So keep caring and spread the word. :)



by Kareen King on July 4, 2014

Happy Red, White, and Blue - Photo Collage by Kareen King, Founder of The Golden Experience® Happy Red, White, and Blue – Photo Collage by Kareen King, Founder of The Golden Experience®


It was the night of the annual 4th of July celebration. Rows of spectators sat waiting with anticipation on the hilltop as karaoke music wafted through the air. It was a perfect evening; no wind or humidity, clear sky, 70 degrees. Then I realized she was not out with the rest of us.

I walked back inside the building, down the neighborhood hallway, and entered her room. It was dark and stuffy. She was lying in bed, half asleep, half awake. I wasn’t sure.

I walked toward her, spoke her name and waited for a response. Her listless face studied mine for a moment.

ME: It’s me, Kareen. I’ve missed you. It’s beautiful outside right now. Is it o.k. if I open the window to let in the fresh air?

She nodded. I opened the window.

ME: Do you feel it?

She nodded again and smiled.

HER: That makes all the difference.

I stood by the window for awhile, commenting on the evening activities and beautiful weather. The space between her window and bed left little room for me to crouch low to be at eye level with her. But I managed to squeeze between the mattress and the wall and squat beside her. We stayed with each other for a moment while the distant sounds of people and karaoke mingled.

Then, without warning, I watched her manicured fingers surface from her bed sheet and reach toward me. I took her hand and continued to be present with her, eye to eye as the evening air breathed life into her room.

ME: Would you like to have your bed turned so you can see out your window and watch the fireworks?

HER: Yes.

I left her room and located two kind Nurse Aides who promptly turned her bed around and elevated her head.

ME: Can you see outside now?

HER: Yes.

An idea popped into my brain. Before our encounter, I was roving around with my Emilou puppet, interacting with the residents and townspeople, or helping with the karaoke music.

ME: Hey, do you have any favorite songs?

HER: I don’t know.

ME: Do you know Delta Dawn?

She wrinkled her forehead as if perplexed. Then, to my surprise, uttered the first line.

ME: Great! I’m going outside to sing it for you. You just wait here and in a few minutes you’ll hear me say your name from the loudspeaker when I sing. Is that o.k. with you?

She smiled and nodded. I left her room and did as promised. I returned a few moments later.

ME: Did you hear me sing for you and say your name?

HER: Yes.

ME: Oh, good!

HER: Guess what I’ve been doing today?

ME: What?

HER: Feathering.

ME: Feathering?

HER: (Beams)

ME: Well, good for you! How long have you been at it?

HER: Six hours.

ME: Well, that’s wonderful. That’s something I’ve never done!

HER: (She beamed and nodded)

We stayed together a little while longer.

ME: Well, I’ve got to go. I’m so glad we had this time together. I love you.

We embraced.

HER: I love you, too.

I never cease to be amazed at the human capacity for survival. Before my arrival, she was busy in her mind’s eye, feathering. The next day I looked up feathering on the internet.  To feather is to provide with feathers, as an arrow; to clothe or cover with or as with feathers, to row an oar after a stroke so that the blade becomes nearly horizontal and to hold it thus as it is moved back into position for the next stroke.

I assume that none of those definitions fit. So I called my 83-year-old mother-in-law to ask if she’d heard of feathering. She hadn’t, unless it meant filling a pillow with goose feathers. So, I searched the Internet again and discovered featherbedding. Perhaps my friend had been featherbedding all day.

I called her nurse. A brief review of her social history shed no further light.

Maybe it really doesn’t matter. She kept busy until I arrived. No more feathering needed during the moments we spent together.

What remains to be seen is how long the space was contained after my departure. Did the experience of our visit linger in her mind? Did her attention remain on the magical outdoor sounds and smells of fresh air and popcorn?

Or did she return to feathering once her Nurse Aides repositioned her bed, closed the window, and said good night?


We Learn to Live in Love

June 30, 2014

Since my return from The Memory Bridge Retreat, I’ve taken more time to practice the skill of attention with not only the long-term care residents I work with, but also friends, coworkers, and family members. I have felt more present with them, and they with me. I have had more meaningful interactions with everyone I’ve […]

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How I Met My Sunshine: A Memoir on Connecting with an Individual With Dementia

June 28, 2014

  Day One: “Hi. I’m Kareen,” I introduced myself to Lily. She, a 91-year-old lady with dementia, was seated contentedly in an easy chair watching the world go by. I sat beside her and introduced myself. She smiled and took immediate notice of my turquoise beaded necklace. I removed it from my neck and placed […]

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A Creative Way to Remove Aches and Pains From a Nursing Home Resident

May 30, 2014

The other day I facilitated a creative engagement gathering regarding all things the letter “E.” I noticed that Edna, normally spunky and fun, had her head buried in her hands. “What the matter, Edna?” I inquired. “Oh, I got aches and pains,” she replied. In hopes to elevate her spirits and redirect her focus, I […]

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The Soldier Who Faded Away

May 26, 2014

It was a Thursday, late afternoon, May 1st, 2014. A gentleman stood beside a suitcase along the highway, straight and tall, poised and elegant in stature. He appeared as a man in his seventies or eighties, hair white and wavy, not quite shoulder length. He wore a dark navy suit jacket that draped to the […]

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Culture Change Info Makes it to Kansas Country Living Magazine

May 9, 2014

Ladies and Gentleman! I am proud to announce that an article I wrote on Culture Change made it to the May, 2014 issue of Kansas Country Living Magazine as part of honoring National Nursing Home Week which is observed May 11-17. I invite you to take a peek!A Movement To Be Reckoned With by Kareen […]

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What I Found Along the Roadside Just for Betty

April 18, 2014

I sat on the floor beside her bed once again, sharing my photo captures of the week. Betty oohed and aahed, putting in a request before I left. “Could you find something special along the roadside for me?” she asked. “Of course I will, Betty,” I promised. “Please come back. Don’t forget. I love you.” […]

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Die Laughing or Live Trying

April 4, 2014

I asked a group of residents in a skilled nursing community if anyone had died laughing before. “Just once,” the resident “comedian” retorted. Realizing I had tapped into a goldmine of witticisms and one-liners, I declared to the man who was sitting in his wheelchair, “Why, you’re a sit-down comedian!” “No I’m not,” he quipped […]

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Venting Your Spleen

March 24, 2014

To vent one’s spleen is to express anger. Sometimes it presents as displacement of anger, such as kicking the door when you’d rather yell at someone. The phrase was introduced to me last week by an older adult during a St. Patrick’s Day creative engagement gathering with a group of residents. It was used while […]

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