The type of internet fame that David experienced — mostly supportive, humorous, and even sweet — is emblematic of the 2000s. This was the cusp of the social media era, when people regularly posted their earnest feelings on Facebook and being in someone’s Top Eight on MySpace still connoted close friendship. But the online conversation has soured since then, and blowback can be crueler. Now, in the age of doxing, trolls, and brutal Twitter takedowns, is it possible to escape viral fame so unscathed?
Here’s how going viral changed his life.