Back in the summer of 2015, I was out walking my dog. It was a beautiful summer’s morning, long before the school rush and as the dog stopped for a crap, I took a moment to take in the wonder of a quiet summer’s sunrise.
Up ahead, I saw a woman coming towards me. Like me, she was up and out early and as she got close, I gave her one of my biggest smiles and said ‘good morning’ rather loudly.
The bitch didn’t say anything back. Didn’t even look at me. My face dropped.
‘What a grumpy fucker,’ I thought. My dog finished his business, I picked it up and we carried on our merry way.
As we made our way back home, I wondered to myself where the woman might have been going so early in the morning. I imagined her heading to ‘Grumpy Fuckers Coffee Shop’, an imaginary venue where all the non-morning people go and sit with faces like slapped arses.
Once I was back home, I sat down to pen a news story for my spoof news site www.walesoncraic.com. The woman had gifted me the idea for a story and within a few seconds, I’d penned the now famous headline ‘Coffee Shop opens for non-morning people’. I spent a few minutes putting the story together, creating an image on Photoshop and pressed ‘Publish’. My next task, like always, was to post it to Facebook, make myself a cup of coffee and get on with my day.
I shared it to my WalesOnCraic Facebook page, and as I had always done, pressed refresh to see if it looked ok. I had to look twice – within the time it had taken me to press refresh, the story had been shared 103 times on Facebook. I refreshed again. 200. Again. 300.
By the end of the day, the story had been shared more than 50,000 times. My servers had gone into meltdown and by the following day, my website went down. I scrambled to upgrade, and finally got them running again to deal with the traffic. By the following day, the story had reached over 100k shares. At this point, I realised that I’d struck gold with something. I bought myself the domain www.grumpyfuckers.com and within a few hours, it had its own website and online shop. I reproduced the story in its original form and to date, the story has had over three million shares. That’s right. Three million.
That’s my story but it doesn’t quite end there. You see, the rise of so-called ‘fake news’ isn’t something new. People have been doing it for years. And even though my story is fake, it doesn’t set out to deliberately deceive people. However, the amount of emails I get every week (usually from the US) asking where the shop is located is ridiculous. More often than not, these are people who seem to think that the shop is local to them. Most of them have never heard of Wales (where the shop was supposedly opened) but those who do know where Wales is request an address and a postcode so that they can visit and pick up a souvenir mug and a T-shirt.
The site has now take on a life of its own, all thanks to a fake news story. There will come a point when the whole world will have heard about Grumpy Fuckers Coffee Shop and the joke will die, but until then, the 200 word blog post continues to fool the world and keep me from having to work in a call centre.
Picture Credit: FreePik/GrumpyFuckers