Last week the Rappahannock News website got roughly 70,000 readers! How could that be? For that’s 10 times the number of all the county’s residents. The answer is illustrative of the way — for good or ill — that communication works now.
What drove readers to RappNews.com was the editorial “Where have all the acorns gone?” A so-called news aggregator with millions of daily visitors decided to link to the story; and suddenly tiny Rappahannock County (and perhaps the tiny mind who wrote the editorial!) was “going viral,” gaining national, even global, circulation.
Among the thousands of new readers, many posted comments, ranging from the humorous and thoughtful to the angry and partisan. Here’s a sampling:
— “I’m from Canada, and I just stumbled upon this. If this is news around your town, I think I’ll move there.”
— “Here in Missouri we’ve had a bumper crop of acorns this year, and like this article suggests, there’s also been noticeably fewer dead animals on the road this season. Interesting!”
— “My daughter, who now has her PhD in plant biology from Duke, informed me there is a theory that the oak trees that survived over the eons were those that varied their acorns from year to year. If the output was similar every year, the population of animals that relied on them for food would rise and level off to devour all of them and leave none to produce new trees.”
— “Where are the acorns? They’re in central Texas this year!”
— “There is a surplus of nuts in D.C. The acorns must be there.”
— “I feel bad about the bears and deer and rabbits getting run over by cars, but not the squirrels. They are horrible little tree rats.”
— “We need a government program to help support all the animals that cannot make ends meet. What shall we call it?”
— “Thank God it’s due to the acorn shortage. I just thought the animals were suicidal because of how cold it is.”
— “Not to worry folks — after Obamacare kicks in, we will need that roadkill for dinner because our health insurance premiums will be so high.”
— “Years with little, if any, acorns will be years with at least one huge hurricane.”