Reflections for the end of the world and THE REAPER VIRUS

The day of reckoning is upon us…..
Current versions of my REAPER VIRUS story contain a month and day but no year. However, the original  ‘THE R33PR VIRUS’ blog and its first published copies established that the world would end in 2015. Later printings abandoned this notion as the book was further polished into its current state.

I stumbled across this fake article I created for the original blog. If the Sunday paper resembles it in any way then I Richmond Times Dispatch owes me some money.

I started writing my original story blog exactly 6 years ago. The story, based on my own life at the time, was imagined to take place six years in my future set to the tune of a viral apocalypse. Back then I found myself discouraged, despondent, and eager to do something more. A frightening story ran through my head during my 10:30PM drive into work at the police station. All I could think about was what I would do to be going the opposite direction, back home to my young family, regardless of what stood in my way.
A few hours later, once the evening insanity died down, I realized that the story I imagined was still in my thoughts. Desperate for an outlet, I composed an email to myself with the beginning of what would become THE REAPER VIRUS. I sent the email (from my work email to my personal email) then moved on. A couple weeks later I opened that email, read it through, and was surprised by how much my restless brain yearned for the tale to continue. I found myself at a crossroads with two options: 1) see where this zombie drabble goes and possibly accomplish the lifelong goal of writing a book, or 2) dismiss it all as the byproduct of a rough patch. The choice I made is what brings us to this point six years later.
Life has changed significantly since then. Any longing for the end of days has significantly lessened. Looking back on it all, the thought of my frustrated middle-of-the-night musings in between rare breaks of a buzzing police radio or emergency line seem like just another story of an alternate me. My goal of writing a book/story was accomplished four times over. Then I was able to see it taken to the next level through the typically frustrating trials and tribulations involved with the publishing industry. As the day I originally chose for the outbreak to go ‘full scale’ draws near, I’m given this chance to reflect on how I arrived at this point as well as what’s to come.
Now for the real reason for my reflections…… After a great deal of thought, I’ve decided to abandon the Facebook page the was so integral in my success. The original formula was a pairing of a blog website with a Facebook fan page. Through Facebook I was able to connect with potential readers and get to know some really amazing people. I doubt I ever would have made enough impact to get noticed if this hadn’t worked so well for me. Then, Facebook changed.
Their introduction of “Sponsored Posts” would be the death of genuine social media. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
These are the insights for The Reaper Virus from when FB started tracking them in July of 2011 through February of 2014. The first big dead zone corresponds with when the sponsored posts were rolled out. In June of 2013 I caved and paid for a post to advertise the release of the book – that tiny spike in the middle of the plateau is all I got. Increases at the end were due to the new support of fellow Permuted Press authors.
An image like that doesn’t lie. I’ve never been fully inactive with the page. All those spikes before sponsored posts were from people liking then involving themselves. Granted, I was much more active with the page then while I posted the regular blog updates, but that doesn’t change the fact that once Facebook implemented this “great new strategy” everything came to a halt.
Almost two years later things have only become more dire. Facebook added the ability to see how many each post reaches. My current average is a dozen people if I’m lucky (out of over 1100 page followers) all because I refuse to pay them money for wanting to connect with people. This less-than-social network has become counter productive, a disheartening spinning of wheels. I say shame on you, Facebook. If my situation from six years ago was just now unfolding then I don’t know my goals would have been realized.
Don’t see this as a sob story because it couldn’t be farther from that. It’s actually a revelation that I’m ready to move on from the roots that elevated me to where I wanted to be. So I’m deactivating my Belligerent Barnes (formally The Reaper Virus) Facebook page on Sunday, November 15th. That was the day the world was supposed to end so I can’t imagine a more fitting exit.
If you’re reading this, THANK YOU! I appreciate you and feel grateful from the bottom of my black heart. Without the support I received I don’t know I would have escaped that version of me from six years ago. I’ll stay on Twitter (@thereapervirus) for now since I can’t figure out if it’s a good thing or SkyNet. My activity on this blog will continue unimpeded. I love reviewing books/etc and do have plans to resume novel work in the near future.
As I used to say leading up to the end of the world – Sacrifice, Survive, or Succumb. 
-Nathan (The Belligerent Barnes)

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