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A River Runs Through It

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By Katr67 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2705084

A few days ago I was watching the Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit, as part of preparation for the podcast that Loomis, Charles Dainoff, and I recorded on the 50 Greatest Westerns of all time. The pod will drop on Monday; make sure you set aside enough time to grapple with this essential content.

Anyway, in the movie the protagonists cross a river, an act which is hardly uncommon to the genre. It inspired me to think about the rivers that I have (literally) crossed over my lifetime, and to wonder which one I’ve crossed the most. After a few minutes of thought I decided it must be the Willamette, which I would often cross multiple times a day while living in Oregon City and Eugene. Contenders for second place include the American near Rancho Cordova, and the Ohio at Cincinnati.

I tweeted this thought, as was the style at the time.

It… uh, exploded. This is without question the most viral tweet that I’ve ever sent, although whether it meets the squishy standards of a “viral tweet” is a different question. What I found remarkable was that it is distinguished largely by its innocuousness; there’s no political content, no attack against any group named or unnamed, and no apparent provocation of any of the squads of flying monkeys that inhabit the dark recesses of twitter.

When people responded (28500 responses, 11200 quote tweets), they most often simply answered the question in a straightforward way. A coterie of jokers answered with “Styx” or “Rubicon,” the latter inadvertently swamping the small but healthy portion of my audience that lives in northern Italy. Still, there were some funnies:

(this is the only legitimate invocation of the River Styx)

And of course there were a few trolls who were absolutely determined to spoil the fun, but they were sufficiently rare that they could be ignored.

What’s it like to have a viral tweet? Well, twitter becomes largely useless when you’re receiving 5-10 replies a minute to a tweet that’s three days old, and it’s only now that things have sufficiently calmed down for me to have actual conversations. I also gained about 600 followers, many of whom I’m sure I’ll lose once they have to read my tweets about the Space Force and University of Kentucky admin policies.

All that said, I’m glad that my first (and possibly only) viral tweet was something that made lots of people thoughtful about place and about time, and that folks seemed to enjoy responding. And so, now for the LGM readership… what river have you crossed most often in your lifetime?

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