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Writing the Book on Love: A Viral Proposal


 
I can't describe how it feels the first time you realize something you have done has gone viral. For me, it was when one of my neighbors–whose face I knew, but I had never spoken to —said, "I saw you on BuzzFeed." That was my "aha" moment.​
My proposal was a long time coming, especially if you ask my fiancé. When I knew I wanted to ask her to marry me, I realized that it was going to be difficult to be sneaky about it. We live together and are both Chicago transplants, so the visibility into each other's lives is pretty clear. Planning something extravagant and keeping it a surprise had to be done on the sly. Moreover, since our parents are far away (hers in Atlanta and mine in Houston), I wanted to have something to share with them about the moment.
I concocted this idea to create an illustrated children's book about our relationship. I wrote the book and over the course of six months, I worked with editors, illustrators and publishers to produce a 12-page storybook that was an allegory of our life together. 
The only problem was how to deliver the book. We are both avid readers, so I thought the library might be a nice locale. Luckily for me, the Harold Washington Library was more than happy to help set up the surprise. The director of the library had the Children's Department staff go above and beyond in assisting me with my plan: books were moved, chairs were rearranged and photographers were concealed. All they asked in return was to put pictures from the event on their Facebook page.
Well, shortly after the library's Facebook post, the media storm began. The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Today.com, The Daily Mail, Toronto Star, Chicago Tribune and more picked up the story. One of my former graduate school peers said she heard about it on the radio in India. INDIA. We were global. If only for a fleeting media moment.
As an analytics director, I am not sure when I will write my next book. When it happens, I doubt the media will pick it up with the same voracity, especially if it is about measuring behavior change. Needless to say, I look forward to married life and writing our story with my wife-to-be one page at a time.