How I Started a Boobquake
How one blog post started a global viral phenomenon.
April 28, 2010— -- You have successfully survived Boobquake. Congratulations!
Unless you're a complete hermit (in which case I wonder why you're reading this), you probably know what Boobquake is. What started as a tongue-in-cheek post on my blog exploded into a global viral phenomenon.
It began Monday, April 19, when I had just read the quote by Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi. "Many women who do not dress modestly...lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," he said in a Friday sermon in Tehran.
I was amused and annoyed, but not surprised. Blaming natural disasters on sinful activities isn't limited to Muslim clerics—just look at Pat Robertson's comments on Haiti, or Jerry Falwell's on Hurricane Katrina. But as a scientist and a feminist, I felt obligated to respond. I proposed on my blog that we try a bit of a science experiment to test
Sedighi's hypothesis: On Monday, April 26, women would dress as immodestly as they desired, and we would see if we really did increase the number of earthquakes. In a brilliant display of my intellectual sense of humor, I dubbed the event "Boobquake." I hurriedly submitted the post and scampered off before I missed the beginning of House.
We now know that the earth didn't rumble more than usual on the April 26. But the media certainly exploded.
The sheer number of people who participated is amazing—and a testament to the power of social media. On the day of the event, over 200,000 people said they were taking part. From April 19 to midday on April 27, my blog received 683,000 unique visitors: To put that in perspective, I used to get 1,000 visitors a day. So far my Twitter followers have increased from 1,000 to 3,653, my blog subscribers doubled to nearly 2,000, and I have 703 Facebook friend requests.
The response has been largely positive. When I started getting emails from thankful skeptics, feminists, and Iranians, I knew I had accidentally done something important. The press and celebrity acknowledgement was definitely exciting, but knowing people appreciated what I was doing meant so much more.