An addicted insider’s account of our real lives in the era of the realtime, social web.

Confession #45: My Kids Refuse to Go Viral

My three year-old son, decked out in his new Batman suit, excitedly screamed his way up the stairs, turned the corner and bolted down the hallway towards my bedroom where he was certain he’d find some bad guys to defeat. Just before making it to the potential crime scene, his trek was interrupted by a doorknob – right between the eyes. He was thrown onto his back and for a moment there was complete silence. From Batman to flat man in a fraction of a second.

If only had my Flip cam or iPhone ready, this moment could have easily paid for my son’s college education.

At least that’s the lesson I’ve learned from the teachings of David DeVore, the guy who shot and shared the video of his 7 year-old son David as he returned home from the dentist, whacked out on anesthesia. I’m sure you’ve seen the video. About 54 million of us have watched David After the Dentist – making it the second most watched You Tube clip of 2009.

While some of you may have been consumed by your pesky concerns that the kid was being exploited, the Dad behind the camera was making bank.

“We embraced it,” said the boy’s father, David DeVore, who shot the famous clip on a Flip camera from the car’s front seat. “We said we will make a family adventure out of this and see what happens. Nothing has happened that we felt uncomfortable doing.”

He would not say exactly how much the family has earned from the video but said it’s in the “low six figures.”

DeVore gave a presentation this week at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, where he explained what the family’s life has been like in the 13 months since the video went viral.

First the video. Then the money. Now the speaking engagements. This guy has basically become the Tony Robbins of the social web.

And I want in, but for some reason I’ve been unable to awaken the giant child exploiter within. And while I hate to say it, I blame my kids.

My wife and I have done everything we can to ingrain in our kids the ultimate importance of the computer world. My son recently told his preschool teacher that if she wanted his Dadda to volunteer in class, she should just email me. The other night, my one year-old daughter (who once kissed my laptop goodnight) preceded a trip to the playground by saying, “Bye Daddy, bye Mama … Bye Puter.”

So they get the family hierarchy. But they refuse, as far as I can tell, to make any real effort to give Dentist David a run for his money. I see other kids on YouTube doing their hair-gelled Jersey Shore re-enactments or hilariously slipping at a birthday party and I wonder what I’m doing wrong.

My son’s most recent trip to the dentist was a total bore. He was so calm and behaved that the hygienist gave him a couple stickers on the way out the door (needless to say, this landed him in his room for a multi-hour timeout). My daughter – who in the privacy of our home is a one girl episode of Star Search – consistently reacts to my attempts to make a video by pointing towards me and repeating the word camera over and over.

Come on, girl. David’s dad is speaking to sold out crowds at SxSW and I’m still stuck trolling for an occasional blog reader. Don’t you know Dadda and Puter love you? How many Skittles is it gonna take to get you to do your Travis Bickle impersonation?

Oh well, they’re young. I have to remind myself of that every time my daughter complains about the professional set-lighting system I installed around her crib or whenever my son whines, “Please Daddy, no more anesthesia.” I’ll keep the cameras rolling, and sooner or later, I’ll catch the perfect moment and my kids will finally understand what it takes to make it in this biz.


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My name is Dave Pell, internet superhero. This blog provides an addicted insider's account of what's happening to us in the era of the realtime, social web. You can read more about the site, grab the rss feed, follow me on twitter, join the Facebook page, or get email updates.