On May 14th of this year, a regular guy named Chris Scott sent a tweet out to his one thousand or so followers.
“Oh hi Becky who refused to kiss me during spin the bottle in 6th grade & now wants to play FarmVille, looks like tables have f*cking turned,” the tweet read, referring to the Facebook-based game that encourages its players to relentlessly invite their friends to play along with them.
The tweet was retweeted and faved a handful of times, as many funny tweets are, and then, Scott said, he kind of forgot about it.
Just a few months later, the tweet has been retweeted over 18,000 times, plagiarized by dozens, and Scott, 30, was even accused by a widely-followed comedian of stealing the joke from an MTV show called “Guy Code,” a program Scott had never heard of or seen.
Oh hi Becky who refused to kiss me during spin the bottle in 6th grade & now wants to play FarmVille, looks like tables have fucking turned
— Chris Scott (@iamchrisscott) May 15, 2014
The 30-year-old Boston resident is not a famous comedian. He, like so many other active Twitter users, utilizes the social network to access news and culture in real time.
So what happened to this tweet? Scott gave Business Insider some insight on what he saw when his harmless, funny joke, went massively viral.
“I know it will be over within a day, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.”
Like wine, good tweets get better over time (this is not true, I just made this up.) In the case of what will now be called “the Becky tweet,” it wasn’t until 30 days after Scott hit send that its popularity began to climb.
On June 18th, Scott came back from his lunch break to an overflowing inbox and push notifications from Twitter. The Becky tweet had been given a breath of new life, but Scott couldn’t figure out how.
After some quick scrolling, Scott figured out that popular Twitter comedian Mary Charlene (@IAmEnidColeslaw) had retweeted the Becky tweet out to her 160,000 followers. This tweet is a user responding to both Charlene and Scott with praise:
“I was happy people liked it,” Scott told Business Insider, “I remember thinking, I know it will be over within a day, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.“
But 24 hours later, the tweet had been retweeted over 3,000 times and showed no sign of stopping. Scott had also gained about 600 new followers in that time period.
“One new follower let me know that he’s following me only because the tweet made him laugh and I better not let him down. That was a strange thing to say, but alright,” Scott laughed.
At the end of the week, the tweet had over 5,000 retweets.
“I do a search for ‘oh hi Becky’ and sure enough, dozens of people have stolen it verbatim.”
In an email to Business Insider, Scott explains what happened next:
On June 24th, A follower tells me that a screengrab has been posted on Imgur lending to a lot of the tweet’s virality. I didn’t realise this was something people did!
Meanwhile, the tweet keeps getting retweeted and faved. It occurs to me that I’ve seen people steal jokes before on Twitter and the inevitable public dust-ups that happen as a result. I do a twitter search of “Oh hi Becky.” Sure enough, dozens of people have stolen it verbatim or slightly tweaked it. I know this kind of thing happens but it’s so fascinating to see it for myself.
Scott said he called out one of the plagiarists “to be snarky,” but immediately regretted it. The Becky tweet now had 7,500 retweets and still showed no signs of slowing down.
“Oh hi, this is never going to stop.”
A few days later, as the tweet is climbing towards 10,000 retweets, someone tells Scott that the same screenshot that was posted to Imgur has now been posted to Tumblr with over 100,000 ‘notes’ (shares/likes.)
“My Twitter notifications are nothing but this tweet, which hilariously begins with “Oh hi” as though it’s greeting me every other minute it pops up,” Scott explains to Business Insider. ” ‘Oh hi, here I am again.’ ‘Oh hi, this is never going to stop.'”
At the end of June, a friend’s husband texted Scott to let him know he saw the tweet on Reddit. If you do a Google search for “Oh hi Becky,” you see the tweet everywhere, like this random radio station that listed the joke as a “great moment in Facebook history” with no credit to Scott.
If you run a twitter search of “kiss tables turned” instead of “Oh hi Becky,” you’ll see lots of folks that swapped in different names like Lisa, Travis, Jill, Mike. People change 6th grade to 5th or 7th. Change Farmville to Candy Crush.
“I said this joke on the first season of ‘Guy Code’ on MTV.”
By the end of June, Scott has watched the Becky tweet make its way to Spain, Germany, South Africa, and South America, as well as England, Ireland, Scotland and London.
With 12,000 retweets, the Becky tweet has made some pretty wide rounds across the world. Again, there are no signs of slowing down.
At the end very end of June, Scott sees a verified user named Jordan Carlos tweet the following at him:
Carlos, with roughly 60,000 followers, is a comedian who has appeared on The Colbert Report and now for MTV’s show “Guy Code,” which Scott tells Business Insider he has never seen.
After a little back-and-forth, Carlos told Scott he will be “reviewing the tapes at MTV and will get back to him.” Some of Carlos’ followers began harassing Scott on Twitter.
“I legitimately began to worry that I did at some point, somewhere hear this joke on his show,” Scott admitted. “Like, maybe the episode was on a TV at a party I was at, and I didn’t register it but subconsciously kept it with me, then tweeted his joke without realising it.”
A few days go by and Carlos has said nothing, so Scott tweeted him to ask. As it turns out, Carlos never made the Becky joke, and agrees to delete the tweet accusing Scott of plagiarism.
YouTube Celebrity Tyler Oakley had posted the tweet to his Facebook page, blacking out Scott’s name
The tweet was still being retweeted, hitting close to 16,000 around the 4th of July. And when Scott thought it couldn’t get anymore bizarre — being accused of plagiarizing his own joke was surely the strangest thing that could happen — someone pointed out that YouTube celebrity Tyler Oakley was a fan of the joke as well.
In fact, the only credit Oakley gives is to himself and his Tumblr page. With 1.6 million fans on Facebook, Oakley cheats Scott out of the small fame and glory he would have had from having his name attached to his joke in this particular situation.
Then Toronto Blue Jays player Frank Viola lifts the tweet:
Scott’s original tweet, as of July 14th, is hovering around 18,000 retweets and 27,000 favourites. The experience, Scott says, has been funny, but also enlightening about the ways people use social media.
In a concluding email to Business Insider, Scott told us:
It’s a genuinely fascinating and foreign concept to me, to see something that you connect with on some level and then decide “Well, that’s mine now.” My hunch is there’s a sizable chunk of people who don’t really grasp what plagiarism is or why it’s wrong, and they kind of regard Twitter and social media as this giant free-for-all where everybody’s just constantly taking and posting whatever they want from whoever they want.