EPISODE 29   |   JUNE 13, 2019
How does something go viral? To find the answer, we'll talk to three experts. First, the man behind Fleccas Talks, Austen Fletcher. Second, Andrew Meyer, who was involved in arguably the first serious viral video in the social media age. And finally, Mike Cernovich, who will dig in deep to the phenomenon.
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EPISODE 29   |   JUNE 13, 2019
How does something go viral? To find the answer, we'll talk to three experts. First, the man behind Fleccas Talks, Austen Fletcher. Second, Andrew Meyer, who was involved in arguably the first serious viral video in the social media age. And finally, Mike Cernovich, who will dig in deep to the phenomenon.
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Red Pilled America is designed to be listened to, not read. Please reference and use the audio version for exact quotes.
Patrick Courrielche: Something has become a daily occurrence in our lives.
Every day on our social media feeds, without fail, something goes viral.
A video, an image, a story, or some other type of meme rises above the pack and spreads like wildfire.
Viral content has become a part of our social fabric.
But there’s something about this phenomenon that the media and Big Tech giants don’t want you to know. Something they are attempting to manipulate that, if allowed to continue, will change the course of history.
I’m Patrick Courrielche and this is Red Pilled America, a storytelling show. This is not another talk show covering the day’s news…we are all about telling stories. Stories Hollywood doesn’t want you to hear. Stories the media mocks. Stories about everyday Americans that the elites ignore. You can think of Red Pilled America as audio documentaries and we promise only one thing…the truth.
Welcome to Red Pilled America.
Patrick Courrielche: How does something go viral?
It’s such a common process in our daily lives that it has become a part of our social fabric. But there is something about this phenomenon that the media and Big Tech giants don’t want you to know…and they’re using that insight to sway our decisions and change the course of history.
To find out how things go viral, we’ll hear from people that have been intimately involved in the creation of content that has spread like wildfire. One is a video creator that became an overnight Internet celebrity by tapping into this phenomenon. Another was involved in arguably one of the very first serious viral videos in the age of social media. And finally, we’ll hear from an expert in creating viral content to get a glimpse at the process that has become a part of our daily lives, and shapes our culture in ways you never imagined.
Patrick Courrielche: There’s just something about Austen Fletcher that makes you smile when you watch him doing what he does – interviewing often-unhinged people who attended anti-Trump protests, demonstrations, and other kooky events. Fleccas, as he’s come to be known, is a bearded former football offensive lineman from an Ivy League college that looks more like the hipsters he interviews than a Deplorable…but as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover…he is an avid Donald Trump supporter that regularly produces videos that go viral within conservative circles.
Fleccas grew up in Long Island, New York…in a normal, happy household. His mother is Italian, his father is of English and Polish decent…and the two are still together to this day.
Fleccas: I'm one of four kids I'm the third of four kids my grandparents on my mom's side are immigrants from Italy. So growing up we had some of that immigrant lifestyle I guess you'd say Where you know my mom was very strict and there are a lot of rules…
Patrick Courrielche: When he was young, his mother used a very Italian technique to make sure her kids stayed in line. She threatened them with a wooden spoon.
Fleccas: I used to get whacked with it when I was little. My mom makes me say threaten because she's like You can't tell people I used to hit you. So I used to get threatened pretty hard with the wooden spoon when I misbehave. When I was little.
Patrick Courrielche: Fleccas’ mother had a well mapped out plan for her kids’ education. They attended a Catholic High School that was one of the top schools for football in the state, and as a Vassar grad herself, which is a highly-respected private liberal arts school in New York, she demanded her kids attend the best of the best for college.
Fleccas: But for example she told us when we were little she said Dad you can go to Duke Stanford or the Ivy League or you're not going to go to college. She could tell all the kids that. And it was like it was tough at the time because it was like Oh my God I'm not that smart. How many go to these big colleges. But she had a plan for us where she was a guard at the boys you're going to play a football you to play you know football you going to play the offensive line you're in play center if you can and you're going to leverage that into hopefully a scholarship or at least an admission into a good college.
So she knew that center was the offensive on the offensive lines usually at the smartest person on the line and calls to be the smallest. So I'm like 6 1. I'm not necessarily that big four college football player. So she knew if I could learn how to call the defense and you know get that experience at center at a young age that would benefit in the long run for recruiting.
Patrick Courrielche: The wooden spoon ended up paying off, because his mother’s plan went off without a hitch.
Fleccas: And my older brother was an All-American in high school. And then he was an All-American at Stanford as well. For your starter captain in the team I played at Dartmouth. I was a four year starter and then my little brother played at Princeton.
Patrick Courrielche: When Fleccas started college in 2008, he didn’t think much about politics.
Fleccas: So my freshman year Obama was elected for his first term and by my senior year or a little after my senior year he was elected for a second term. I had no idea what was going on but because it was hope and change and the first black president. I'm like oh yeah this is great.
And the way the political atmosphere was kind of designed was kind of like oh yeah everyone just let Obama do his thing. Everything's fine don't even pay attention. Go worry about everything that's more important in your life.
Patrick Courrielche: So during his school years it wasn’t on the top of his mind, but he did get his first taste of politics while at Dartmouth.
Fleccas: By my senior year though Occupy Wall Street had a tent up at the campus and then one of the guys came over with his guitar to our fraternity and was like hey man like can I.
I'm looking for some beers can I pay you in songs. And I was like. Now get out of here.
Patrick Courrielche: He graduated with a degree in American Imperialism and went off to work on Wall Street, selling mortgage bonds and equities.
Fleccas: So after college I went to work at Citigroup. I had a job in New York. I had no beard to get to work at five thirty in the morning every day.
After like six months once the job started I knew it wasn't for me just because I was I was using my like early 20s energy like that emotional energy and like to build something that wasn't for me I was building a good corporate bank like a global bank. Such a huge thing already. And like the better I did the more money the bank made. So it just like really didn't line up with me and I didn't want to. I was just kind of felt myself burning out in a way and I didn't want to waste all that emotional energy. You have that you can't get back in your 20s on something that's so not personal it's so not for me.
I did that for two years and then I said actually I'm going to resign at the end of my contract I gave my two weeks notice towards the end of my second year
Patrick Courrielche: He felt like he had a different calling…he wanted to put his energy into comedy.
Fleccas: So I knew I wanted to do something creative. I knew I wanted to be the face of whatever comedy I was doing and I knew I wanted to entertain for a good reason which is I swear those were my motives. I like I want to do something where it's not like sell out comedy or like you know gross comedy. I want to do something words like actual funny but I'm also spreading a message I believe in.
Patrick Courrielche: So at the end of his two-year contract he convinced his employer to pay him out the same bonus they’d given to the rest of the staff, and he packed up his old Hummer H3 that his parents gave him, and headed to Cali.
Fleccas: Here I drove that out with all my stuff in it. And then I traded in at the dealership for a few thousand bucks paid the difference and got the DSL five hundred black on black two seater so sleek. I was like Miami Vice thing out here in L.A. for a while then I got stolen. It got stolen and totaled.
Patrick Courrielche: Like most trying to make it in comedy, Fleccas connected with a clique of guys and they all got a pad together.
Fleccas: I had a good group of friends we actually were living in like this kind of this mansion in West Hollywood. The guy wanted 15 grand a month in rent. We offered him seventy five hundred and he took the deal. So it was like me and like seven guys living in one house in this really nice area. The neighbors hated us because we had all these crappy cars like Park because I was like. Mercedes Lavery ladies and Ferrari is that all these nice cars and it is like 98 Honda Civic accord.
So I was living in a house with a bunch of guys that were all creative whether it was music or comedy. So we're all kind of doing sketches and little things together.
But I quickly realized and everyone told me I'm just taking these meetings. Basically I cashed in every connection I had to like hey do you know an agent a manager an actor. Anybody like tell me and I'm gonna go meet them for lunch or coffee or whatever.
And every single person told me you have to do something that works. And once it starts working and once it's making money then Hollywood will come in and kind of like scoop it up in a way and scale it.
I was doing like little sketches where basically I taught myself how to edit by greed I played myself until a classic movie moments and I was like I was like a like using a green screen basically. So I learned how to edit that way where I was like You know here's me in the sixth and The Sixth Sense and right were the part where the kid says like I see dead people and I'm like Come on man YOUR MOM'S GOING TO BE HOME IN 20 MINUTES PLEASE don't do that you know or I'd be in Beverly Hills Cop delivering corny lines and like shooting people. So I did a bunch stuff like that to learn how to edit but I didn't really have an audience picked out I didn't know what I wanted to do I just wanted to be funny and creative on a low budget.
Patrick Courrielche: Fleccas hadn’t yet found his niche, but whether subconsciously or not, he discovered an interest in critiquing the media.
Fleccas: And then I did a musical. It's kind of a very dark comedy. It was Jon Benet Ramsey the musical Oh very dark comedy. It was actually hilarious. I just took a bunch of like I said like Eight Broadway songs the most famous ones and rewrote them and it was actually a more of a take on the media because the media at that time was convinced that the mother did it and they pushed the overbearing pageant mom theory of what's this mother who burned out who put the pressure on the kid and they did that for 10 years and then Patsy Ramsey the mother actually got cancer and died and then years after they're like oh new DNA evidence proves it wasn't her. But the media wasn't held accountable. Everyone just Priestley drove that woman to the edge and then you know she die and they're like oh well it was someone else. So it was actually it wasn't necessarily like it was a dark comedy but it wasn't poking fun necessarily at the death.
It was mostly poking fun at the media how thirsty they are for stories and how they promoted this whole narrative and it killed somebody and they didn't even they weren't held accountable or really care.
So my whole thing was like oh cool that dominate the musical this would be really funny I invited all of Hollywood a bunch of people came and they're like Yeah that was great. I still got no opportunities from it.
Everyone liked it. I paid the people so no one was really mad that about anything. And it went well. But then Hollywood still didn't give me any opportunities and nothing happened. They didn't care had a bunch other scripts. No one really read them no one gave me the time of day. And then politics started happening.
Patrick Courrielche: Fleccas didn’t realize it at the time, but he was about to tap into the phenomenon that makes content go viral…a process that would make him an overnight YouTube celebrity.
More after the break.
Adryana Cortez: Welcome back. I’m Adryana Cortez.
So Fleccas decided to leave his Wall Street career behind. He packed up and went west to Cali in pursuit of a career in comedy. But after a series of projects creating funny skits and writing and producing a dark musical comedy, none of it was opening doors for him in Hollywood.
But then something happened…the 2016 presidential campaign kicked off.
Fleccas liked Trump from the beginning, and watched as the media initially had fun with his candidacy.
Fleccas: Before Trump was the Republican candidate they were treating him pretty well. He was going on the late night Stephen Colbert shows like those type of things people were like Oh Donald Trump. Like maybe it's a joke maybe it's not. But then once he got the ticket I saw how everything changed and he was just like oh racist Donald Trump. History of racism all these harsh sexist all these horrible accusations.
Adryana Cortez: By contrast, he noticed how the media was treating the Democrat candidate.
Fleccas: What I saw when I saw this I'm from New York so I did follow Hillary Clinton for a while and have always not liked her. My family has never liked her. So when I saw how she was getting the preferential treatment in the debates and how the media was kind of you know her mouthpiece in a way and just backing her up on a lot of things that I knew weren't true and I saw the way the media was spinning everything…
Adryana Cortez: Watching the biased media, the same industry he lampooned in his musical, turn on the real estate mogul as a racist while elevating a political couple that were once members of a whites-only golf club, observing as the hypocrite media branded Trump as a misogynist while celebrating the Clinton machine that tried destroying women accusing Bill of rape …watching that media manufacture fake news, stirred something in Fleccas.
Fleccas: And I saw kind of I got a saw behind the curtain in a way of like how the media works and how the media manipulates and opera and operates so that really woke me up…
Adryana Cortez: This combined with his introduction to another man helped give Fleccas a new direction.
Fleccas: then I watched hating Breitbart a documentary about Andrew Breitbart. And at that time I wasn't too familiar with him but once I kind of discovered the Life of Andrew Breitbart what he stood for what he fought for and everything he did. I watched all of his videos. I just kind of like became activated in a way that I really didn't care about politics I really didn't think it was important I thought it was just like so much above me and bigger than me that I would never even care about being involved in that world. And then once I kind of discovered Breitbart and how they were treating Trump I just felt completely activated and turned on and was like Alright this is my mission in life. Like I have to do this.
Adryana Cortez: His moment would come shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Protests started erupting all across the country over Trump’s travel ban.
The anti-Trump Resistance took to airports all across the country to rally against his so-called Muslim ban.
Fleccas: The first time was right after the inauguration. There was the the the quote Muslim ban that Trump was implementing and I had a bunch of friends in West Hollywood where I lived that were go into the L.A.X airport terminal to protest and I knew for a fact they knew nothing about what was going on and they were just going either to take pictures for Instagram to go with some girls they liked or just to go to because they thought they were kind of like obligated to.
Adryana Cortez: So he grabbed a camera, that he got for free, a microphone, strapped a wooden spoon to it as a playful nod to his childhood days, and headed to LAX to interview the protesters.
Fleccas was a bit nervous, but he knew that with his look, he’d fit right in with everyone he’d be interviewing.
Fleccas: I look like a left leaning person like I'm in L.A. I have a beard and I wore like a Culver City ice hockey shirt. So like no one expected anything for me. If I had worn like a MAGA hat in a suit and had like a real microphone people might have given me a problem. But in the beginning I was really able just to sneak around and just like get the soundbites and hey look why are we protesting We're protesting because Donald Trump wants to put all Muslims in concentration camps and I'm just like Oh very cool very cool. They tell me more it's like I realized quickly that like it wasn't necessarily going to be like me making jokes it was going to be about me like getting them to open up to me and just let it all out. Tell me everything. Tell me what you feel and without challenging them they go deeper and deeper and deeper and give me more and more golden soundbites.
Fleccas: I would ask a passive aggressive question where it's like yeah that sounds good but like isn't it the case that you know a billion Muslims live outside these kind of countries like what do we say about that.
And definitely I was kind of like on their I'm not on their team trying to like figure it out with that led to some really funny interactions.
Adryana Cortez: Without even knowing it, he was creating the content for his YouTube channel that he would later call Fleccas Talks.
Fleccas: Like my channel called if like us talks about ways make a joke that it should be called flex lessons because I'm like asking like basic questions I'm not even that good at like the way I word. But then it's mostly the people who are saying the crazy stuff or seeing the engaging stuff.
Adryana Cortez: With the LAX interviews he knew almost immediately that he’d found the approach he was looking for – humor with a message.
Fleccas: And I went home and I saw in the footage all that craziness and all the things and all the crazy soundbites I got and I was like Oh my God this is like actually comedy.
Adryana Cortez: The video was hilarious. Fleccas would just let the looney protestors say what was on their minds and contrast their lack of knowledge with the actual facts. He had struck comedy gold.
But his friends warned him about going down this path.
Fleccas: and they were like oh you can't take that side. You'll never work in Hollywood again. And I was like I don't work in Hollywood as it is.
So what do I care. People don't call me back. They don't give me opportunities. So I'm just going to you know stay true to what I believe in.
Adryana Cortez: So Fleccas sat down at his computer, edited his first Fleccas Talks video and uploaded it to his YouTube channel.
At the time, he had roughly 800 subscribers – a very small number in the ecosystem of YouTube – not enough to make a video spread online.
But within twenty-four hours he knew he was onto something.
Fleccas: I used to make comedy videos I used to try to do YouTube stuff and it would never get much traction but I released my first video whereas actually questioning these protesters and it got like 100000 views in 24 hours.
Adryana Cortez: For a YouTube channel with under a thousand subscribers, it was an enormous number. It wasn’t long before he figured out why.
Fleccas: Well initially it went out on my small YouTube channel didn't do that.
It did OK but then it got discovered by The Blaze and Infowars.
Adryana Cortez: He quickly came to a realization.
Fleccas: I got more subscribers. Yeah. And I was I learned kind of the business side of it too. So I was like okay like The Blaze and Infowars they shared my video. They also put a little note like watch out for the there is curses like you know parental advisory or whatever. So I realized okay like I am the right is completely underserved there's no content for most of these people. Netflix Hulu HBO everything is to the left I'm kind of creating content that these people like and also the media outlets are going to be my way of getting to a bigger audience getting my subscribers. So I started censoring the curses I started keeping that in mind. And then every time I released a video after that I would send it to every single outlet. Daly wired the blaze bright Bart Infowars all of them and then you one out of five videos would get re shared. Then it was like two at a five and now I'm at the point where it's like basically every single one will get picked up by somebody
Adryana Cortez: Fleccas had found an audience, the MAGA movement, and began tapping the distribution hubs that spread messages to this niche crowd…conservative media. He bleeped out curse words and packed the videos with golden soundbites…and as a result he increased the sharability of his videos. His clips became weapons of his audience, used to show the stupidity of their ideological foes. Fleccas Talks videos now regularly go viral amongst the Deplorables because he learned how to effectively tap the phenomenon that spreads information.
Another man also tapped this viral process but in a different way…and when he did, he became perhaps the first person to be involved in a serious viral video in the social media era.
More after the break.
Patrick Courrielche: Welcome back.
So Fleccas figured out how to increase the sharability of his videos – and now they regularly go viral amongst the Deplorables.
This viral phenomenon has been around since the birth of the Internet, but with the advent of social network, the process has accelerated exponentially.
Andrew Meyer is perhaps patient zero. He would become part of what some claim is the very first serious viral video in the age of social media.
It was September 2007, and Andrew was cruising his college when he ran across an advertisement.
Andrew Meyer: So I was walking around the University of Florida campus.
I saw a flyer on the wall that John Kerry was coming to speak at a town hall forum.
Patrick Courrielche: A senior undergraduate who wrote for the school newspaper, Andrew was once a supporter of Kerry, voting for him in 2004 largely because of his promise to end the wars in the Middle East.
Andrew Meyer: There was literally no one I would have rather ask questions to than John Kerry.
And suddenly he's going to be at my campus taking questions. So that opportunity to me that was something that I could I wouldn't miss for anything I just had to go and ask him after standing up for him and wanting him to end the wars and then finding out that he was essentially a fraud.
Patrick Courrielche: At the time, Andrew became disillusioned with both the Democrats and the Republican parties.
Andrew Meyer: But it was obvious to me anyway that the Democrats really with the Republicans were no different at that point. They were talking about invading Iran and all of the information from the Downing Street Memo from other sources had come out that the Bush administration had really ginned up their causes for war in Afghanistan had had created fake news to go into Iraq though so-called weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein had. So all of that was out there that they were lying to the American public to bring us into wars that we really didn't need to be in and instead of standing up for getting us out of war. John Kerry and the Democrats all of these so-called defenders of peace, they had no problem giving Bush a pass on all of his misinformation that he put out there. They could have moved to impeach George Bush. They want to impeach President Trump right now for supposedly colluding with the Russians. There is far more information and actual verified fact that George W. Bush knowingly lied to the American public to get us into wars that have cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Patrick Courrielche: So Andrew decided he was going to question Kerry at the event and capture it on video.
Andrew Meyer: The day before the town hall. I was still just overwhelmed that he was actually going to be on campus taking questions. But I knew that I had to go I had to document myself asking him questions because nobody in the media was asking hard questions. You'd never see hard questions asked of Democrats or really Republicans all of the wars that were going on. It was just sort of accepted by the media. And so I wanted to ask John Kerry whether he was really what he claimed to be it show it on camera and actually put it online so people could see this is what happens when you ask real questions to a politician.
Patrick Courrielche: At the time, social media had began to blossom. Google had just purchased YouTube, which was largely populated with pirated content and what you’d see on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Facebook had only become open to the general public roughly a year earlier. And the iPhone had only been on the market for several months. By September 2007, there were only about a million sold.
In other words, going viral was not quite a thing yet – but all the pieces were there to allow a hot story to spread like wildfire.
Andrew saw an opportunity to take advantage of this burgeoning social media ecosystem.
Andrew Meyer: I wanted to take video and yes put it on YouTube and then host it on my Web site…The Andrew Meyer dot com to show people this is what real journalism looks like. This is what happens when you ask questions to somebody that was running for president. And this is what real questions look like.
Patrick Courrielche: So he went to the auditorium where John Kerry was scheduled to speak, with a handheld camera in tow and only a glimmer of an idea of what was about to happen.
Andrew Meyer: So I expected that asking real questions in public that it would cause somewhat of a scene the audience being shocked maybe, John Kerry being offended. Who knows. I expected that it would cause a scene but nothing like what actually transpired.
Patrick Courrielche: The event was supposed to be a town hall, which typically means that the speaker fields questions from attendees through the duration of the event. But apparently there was some false advertising. Kerry spoke for roughly an hour in his signature monotone voice, without taking questions. The student organizers of the event were fully aware of the schedule.
Andrew Meyer: And then it's when they say Finally it's time for questions from the crowd. The students that had organized the event obviously had put together like three or four questions of their own. They were first in line. They knew it was time for the for that.
Patrick Courrielche: So by the time Andrew realized what was happening, there was already a thick line at the microphones.
Andrew Meyer: I get in line. There's a microphone on either side of the auditorium. And by the time I go to stand in line there's a big line of people on either side maybe 10, 12 deep of people on either side to speak.
Patrick Courrielche: The student organizers got to ask a few questions, than it was open to the rest of the attendees.
Andrew Meyer: But when John Kerry finally took questions people asked you know they get three or four questions from the crowd. And then people from the Student Bureau that had been putting on the event started telling everybody to sit down. That was it you know three or four questions and then alright. Yeah everybody had their chance. You know that's the that's the end of the town hall.
So then you know what happened next when the student from the speakers bureau had told everybody to sit down I didn't sit down. I just stood in line. I didn't come to listen to John Kerry give a boring stump speech for an hour without saying anything. So ice just continued standing in line and then someone else from the speakers bureau came over told me to sit down. I didn't. And he signaled for the police from the back of the room.
Patrick Courrielche: Andrew figured this was his only chance, so he handed his camera to a girl next to him and asked her to film his questions.
Andrew Meyer: And so with police officer coming to drag me off I guess for not sitting down I went to the microphone I stepped maybe three feet at that point in front of me because everybody had sat down maybe three feet. I stepped to the microphone in front of me and asked Are you going to, are they going to arrest me for trying to ask you a question?
Patrick Courrielche: Kerry allowed Andrew to ask his questions, and so began his entrance into the history books.
Andrew Meyer: I spoke for literally 90 seconds in that time. I asked three or four questions because once once I'm done asking my initial question I know that there's no way you know they're gonna let me have a back and forth with John Kerry. So I wanted to get in everything I had to say before I know pass the mike back. And also I wanted people to understand where I was coming from an asking him these questions and why I didn't want to sit down
Patrick Courrielche: Andrew was ultimately making the argument that Kerry and Bush, as members of a well-documented secret society called Skull and Bones from their alma mater Yale, were actually not political adversaries, but instead part of the same elite club, and as a result, Kerry was never going to hold Bush accountable for his actions that led to America’s invasion of Iraq as he campaigned on.
It was provocative, but really a fascinating line of questioning. Just a few years earlier, John Kerry and George Bush had been locked in a heated competition for the White House with Kerry promising to end the wars. Kerry of course lost, but after information surfaced suggesting the Bush Administration cherry picked facts to justify an invasion of Iraq – Kerry and the Democrats backed off from taking Bush to task for the invasion. Andrew’s inquiry into whether being brothers with Bush in a secret Yale society affected Kerry’s decision making, was at a minimum relevant.
Well, it was the Skull and Bones questions that appeared to rile up the police on hand. And the speed at which they escalated the situation was stunning.
Andrew Meyer: And the police once I was finished asking these questions they immediately grabbed me which I wasn't expecting. I had been allowed to stand in line and ask questions. I totally did not understand why after asking questions that I was now allowed to ask. I was being grabbed by police officers.
Well the police officers are arresting me and at this point I'm freaking out a little bit. I was 21. I just read 1984 which talks about all kinds of abuse that citizens would suffer in a sort of fascist state which is what I'm now leading myself to believe that I'm in. You know I'm asking real political questions to John Kerry which I was allowed to ask. John Kerry let me stand in line and now because of the questions literally the police officer wrote the report because of the questions they were arresting me. So I was freaking out a little bit. I did not just let them take me I put my arms in the air. I'm holding a book and I'm saying why are you arresting me.
There is a famous picture of one of the police officers pointing a Taser at me while I'm holding my arms in the air holding a book. You want to talk about Hands Up Don't Shoot. I'm holding my hands up in the air holding a book. So they think I'm some kind of dangerous threat because I'm holding my arms up with a book. So then three of them grab me and one mammoth police officer. He looked like he could play defensive tackle for the Florida Gators. He grabbed me and started just moving me up the aisle and out of the auditorium like totally picked me up which you know he's a strong guy.
Patrick Courrielche: When they get Andrew to the back of the room, the begin to pin him down to arrest him, and this is when he delivers his now famous line.
Andrew Meyer: Being tasered is extremely painful. You know people make it out to be a joke on the media because you can get tasered and survive.
But being tasered is extremely painful and you can you can tell when you're when you being when you're being tasered that there's a reason hundreds of people have died from being tasered. It's serious. You're getting volts and volts of electricity run throughout your body.
Patrick Courrielche: The police eventually walked Andrew out of the building, placed him into a police car, and hauled him off to jail.
Luckily for Andrew, people were recording the shocking episode. One video was taken by an attendee likely with a new smartphone, and that video was sold to the Gainesville Sun, a local newspaper. Another video was his own, shot by the woman he handed his camera to. The Gainesville Sun version only included footage of him being manhandled by the police. But the one taken with his camera included all of his questions. The woman uploaded the video onto YouTube…and it went viral almost immediately.
Andrew Meyer: when I woke up in the morning in jail one of the guards came by and told me you were on Good Morning America this morning. So while I'm still in jail the video had already gone viral and the news was saying all kinds of things about me without me getting this speak on my own behalf.
Patrick Courrielche: What likely set the video blazing through social media was how quickly the law enforcement escalated the situation. It looked like a classic case of police brutality, something the public loves to share.
His school quickly began applying pressure on Andrew, threatening a felony and expulsion from school just months before he was to graduate. So on the advice of his parents, and against his nature, he apologized to the school and accepted only one sit down interview.
Andrew’s Don’t Tase Me Bro incident became a legendary meme that made appearances in songs, in standup routines, and even in films and TV shows.
Andrew recently publish a book about the ordeal entitled, appropriately, Don’t Tase Me Bro: Real Questions, Fake News, And My Life As A Meme.
Don’t Tase Me Bro had become a viral sensation.
Mike Cernovich: for something to go viral you have to have people want to share it.
Patrick Courrielche: That’s Mike Cernovich, author, journalist, filmmaker, and podcaster, with an uncanny ability to create content that goes viral.
Mike Cernovich: And that seems maybe banal but a lot of people don't think of it in that terms are people going to want to share this. And if they aren't then it won't go viral, and if they are then it has viral potential.
Patrick Courrielche: Fleccas Talks videos and Andrew’s “Don’t Tase Me Bro” incident highlight two types of viral content. One going viral within a niche, and the other going viral within the mainstream. Mike has personally experienced both.
Mike Cernovich: We always think of something going viral as in hundred million people 50 million people viral in the sense of that rap song. This is America. I mean that goes viral even though it's being propagated by the media.
The first time I went viral I was in Budapest Hungary I'd read a bunch of articles about how apparently there was a major refugee crisis in the Hungarian people were kicking people who were refugees and everything. And I wonder if that's true or not.
Patrick Courrielche: So Mike went to Budapest to see if the media was covering the so-called refugee crisis accurately. Which has now become an all to normal trend, Mike learned that the media was in fact not telling the truth. So he decided to tell the story of what he saw.
Mike Cernovich: I went to Facebook and a very small Facebook page at the time and not any real prominence like I have today. And it went viral overreached over a million a half people which for me was like crazy numbers I'd never seen anything like that.
Patrick Courrielche: What Mike has witnessed when his work explodes online is that there are at least two pathways that make a story, a meme, or a piece of video go viral. One is that the story is spread by what’s called a major distribution node, like a cable news network or person with a massive social media following, basically someone or something with a huge built in audience.
Another route for something to go viral is when the information strikes a chord with a niche audience on a grassroots level. He relates this to his Budapest migrant story.
Mike Cernovich: That was a niche issue. Everybody in Hungary wanted people to say look here this is what's really happening. We're not actually doing what the media is telling us to do. So the entire country was motivated to share that. That was a niche interest and it went massively viral so you don't have to even get a huge node. I didn't have a major network node or an E Celebrity or a prominent person or a media outlet or anybody else doing it.
That was a case where the people had a really strong interest in getting that information out. Very few number of people can get those out in a big way. Figure let's say 10000 people in Hungary want to tell people to know the truth. Wonder Metcalfe's Law that network is equal to N squares.
Patrick Courrielche: Metcalfe’s Law is also referred to as the network effect.
The law is used to measure the value of a connected network. For example, at the introduction of the fax machine, the value of the fax machine network was very small. If there were just two people using fax machines, they could only make one connection…the line connecting the two machines. But as you add fax machines, or nodes, to the network, their ability to share information increases dramatically. By adding just one fax machine, the number of connections triples to three. Four fax machines can make six connections. And twenty fax machines can make 190 different connections. The value of a network increases dramatically with just a small increase to the number of nodes in the network.
So if a piece of information is introduced to even a very niche social media group, and it is useful to that group, it has the ability to reach an enormous audience even without hitting a major distribution network like a cable news outlet or a celebrity with a massive social media following.
Mike Cernovich: I haven't many people want to share that 10000 people shared. That could actually potentially reach a million people due to the network effects. And that's another way that it goes viral is very so local can go viral.
Patrick Courrielche: But perhaps the most assured way for a piece of information to go viral is for it to be shared by a major node…a media outlet or a person with a massive following. This is how information spreads rapidly throughout culture. If a message is shared by a major node, the chance of it reaching the mainstream increases dramatically.
And it’s that little piece of insight that explains so much about why the media and Big Tech are working together to purge prominent voices on social media that they don’t like.
Many claim that the media and Silicon Valley are working together to silence big named conservative voices because they don’t like what they have to say. And there is truth in that claim.
But perhaps the bigger reason, the real goal behind silencing prominent rightwing voices is that they are major distribution centers for the voices of Middle America. CNN is not going to regularly share stories about how illegal immigration or foreign visas hurt the American worker. But Alex Jones and Gavin McInnes will. The media and their Big Tech comrades want to control the flow of information. They only want approved stories to be shared throughout social media. So they eliminate major nodes that propagate wrongthink to control the narrative.
Mike Cernovich: the national things go viral when there are a bunch of nodes pushing the information and these big tech companies know that. And that's why they're banning network nodes like Alex Jones I don't. I love you Alex Jones as a person. I view him as a network node he's a part of a network and he has now been isolated and cut out so therefore whatever he's saying can't get out to other people…
Patrick Courrielche: Which leads us back to the question, how does something go viral?
A primary reason why a story, video, message, or meme goes viral is because some niche group views it as a useful tool or weapon to further their cause. That piece of information goes viral because people want to share it. That may sound like an obvious insight, but it’s a powerful one nonetheless.
When Fleccas made his videos that showed anti-Trump buffoons stumbling over the facts, the MAGA movement wanted to share the videos because they could be used as a weapon against their ideological foes. And major cnodes like The Blaze and Alex Jones’ InfoWars shared the videos…allowing them to go viral throughout Middle America.
When Andrew Meyers “Don’t Tase Me Bro” video went viral, both the grassroots and mainstream media hubs wanted to share it because it furthered their causes…either highlighting police brutality or driving viewership to their networks through shock value.
When Mike Cernovich’s Budapest investigation went viral, Hungarians wanted to share it because it became a weapon to fight back against the fake news about the migrant crisis.
Things go viral largely because they can be used as weapons by one group to further their cause. So they share it.
As we watch the media and Big Tech giants collude to purge high profile users, keep in mind that they are not only trying to silence the person they are deplatforming – they are attempting to silence you. They don’t want your message finding its way to an unapproved distribution node with a large social media following. Because if it does, and gets shared…they lose control of the narrative – and that just can’t be allowed to happen.
They want to eliminate so-called low quality information not through vigorous and open debate…but by ending your ability to someday go viral.
And you don’t have to take my word for it, believe the Big Tech titans themselves.