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  • A.K. Lee


Updated: Mar 14, 2020

Life in Singapore goes on, even as the number of novel coronavirus (COVID19) patients increases. Most people are going about their days as usual. The only visible difference is that there are more people in surgical masks and that fewer people congregate.

(not Singapore)

Thankfully, no one I know has contracted the illness, and I hope this will blow over soon. COVID19 has come out of nowhere and spread globally in a very short time, highlighting just how connected we are nowadays as a species. I hope that governments and healthcare institutions will learn from this scare and develop procedures as well as begin processes to change how we deal with these diseases.

My own viral experience has nothing to do with illness. In mid-January, one of my very mundane posts went viral. I share pictures of my experiences infrequently, and usually I get a handful of responses from my friends.

However, this pancake (mostly cake, to be honest) somehow captured the attention of a lot of people. Initial responses were fairly expected: my friends asked me how it tasted, or exclaimed that it was very pleasing to the eye.

Then, after a couple of hours, for some reason, the tweet began picking up speed. By the end of the day, I had a thousand or so likes and a hundred people commenting on the pancake. It was exciting and bewildering. It's just a pancake.

Well, me being me, I began to read the responses and catalogue them. There are essentially four camps:

  1. Those who stayed on topic - they marvel over the cake, they ask me how it was done, they want to know how it tasted, they joked about trying with their own rice cookers.

  2. Those who found it aesthetically pleasing - I lost count of the number of tweets saying "drop your skincare routine" or "this pancake has better skin than me".

  3. Those who were reminded of something else - Werther's Originals; some manga I have never seen in my life; Skyrim cheesewheel.

  4. Those who were rude and should be made into pancakes - "what kinda dumbass bitch can't cook pancakes on a stove"

I did try to keep up at first, replying to people with pictures of a slice of the cake or tweeting out the steps to making it. It was funny to me, that there was such interest in a cake. And, like all everyday tweeters who get a viral tweet, I put in a link to my novel on Amazon (since I don't have a SoundCloud). Alas, I had a life and I needed to sleep.

When I woke up, all my mentions were just on that One. Dumb. Pancake. ALL. Thousands of likes and retweets and quote-tweets. My fascination turned to confusion to irritation, within the span of minutes. I had to mute notifications for that tweet. (Did you know that, if you get a high volume of interactions for a certain post, the Twitter app offers to help you manage it?)

Ah, peace and quiet.

I was certain I would never have to see that cake ever again. It was delicious, and it was out of my life forever. Part of me wondered: did I really go viral? What is the measure of something going viral? It turns out no one has a clue. But I knew my tweet had made it when it showed up on another site - the type that shares memes - and when someone I didn't know at all showed the tweet to one of my friends.

I still have no idea what the appeal of that pancake is. Perhaps it's a throwback to simpler times on social media, when we just shared funny stories or mishaps instead of drowning in terrible news and tragedies and emergencies. When life was mundane and we weren't jumping from outrage to outrage. Looking back on it, I'm just glad I had a chance to lift some spirits with something I created.

But for the near future? No more rice cooker pancakes.

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