The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has published a fascinating look at why the story of Karen Klein, the bus driver who was mercilessly bullied by middle school students in Greece, N.Y., went so viral.
Among other things, the story says, viewers of the YouTube video shot on the bus identified with Ms. Klein, who is a senior citizen and who didn’t fight back.
“This is a glance into the heart of darkness of the human spirit,” said Syracuse University media professor Robert Thompson in the D&C piece. “But it’s not a serial killer, it’s our own kids.” Everyone loves an underdog.
Even more interesting, from strictly a social media point of view, is that the video only had a few dozen hits on YouTube until Daniel Kiernan posted it on Reddit, a social networking site.
“Users on a second site, 4Chan, picked up on it, and soon, links were being posted to Facebook and Twitter, and views on the YouTube video were growing exponentially. By Friday, the video had amassed 4.2 million views…”
The Democrat and Chronicle also notes Rochester’s two other popular local YouTube sensations — when Jason McElwain, an autistic high school senior, scored 20 points in a basketball game, and when Emily Good was arrested for filming a traffic stop.
Timing is everything. When McElwain scored those points in a Greece Athena High School basketball game in 2006, Facebook had only 10 million fans and Twitter hadn’t even been born. (A segment on ESPN actually vaulted him into the national spotlight.)
Meanwhile, Ms. Klein’s popularity has grown so much as a result of social media, that more than 29,000 people have donated $648,000 (as of this writing) to a fund established by Indiegogo.com, a fundraising website that didn’t even exist until 2008. Ms. Klein was making $15,000 a year as a bus monitor.