The world thinks I faked a drone crashing through my office window and into my head.
It’s 5.25pm on a Thursday and I am just about to post an onboard video from my latest Ferrari test drive when I hear a whistle instantly followed by an extremely loud bang, glass flying all over me and a huge thump to my head.
What actually happened was that two guys were flying a drone in a densely populated area in Cape Town, the lost control of it and it smashed into my 5th story office window and into my face.
Initially I thought a bomb had gone off, but once I opened my eyes and checked that I had all my limbs, I was presented with a big white drone parked on top of my laptop.
After gathering myself I took a look around and noticed most of the people in my office had surrounded me and were asking if I was ok. The truth is that even though I only got a bump to the head things could have been much worse. The tinted film on our windows ‘caught’ a lot of the big shards and if one of those hit me in the face and/or eyes I could have been waving goodbye to a racing career I’ve fought incredibly hard to attain.
Upon inspection of the drone I noticed it’s battery was missing and that there was a GoPro attached to it filming everything. Realising the seriousness of the situation I extracted the footage in case I needed it for legal reasons.
A few hours later — after cleaning up the mess and handing back a very broken drone — I headed home to check out the footage. It turned out to be golden and since you can’t make this stuff up I decided to post it to my YouTube profile.
Upon waking the next morning I took a look at the view count which was at a very modest 700.
10 minutes later my phone rang. A local news station wanted the full story.
15 minutes after that another call, and another, and another. And. Another.
By the time we reach lunch time the video’s been watched 10,000 times but my life is still relatively calm. Until America woke up.
24hrs had passed and I was now fielding phone calls from every news station I could think of: USA Today, Good Morning America, News24, The Guardian, Global News, ABC News and a couple of others I’d never heard of.
The following morning I woke up to see the 57 second clip had surpassed 100,000 views. And then the trolls found me.
From that point on things went from funny to no longer funny.
My phone was buzzing off the hook with YouTube comment notifications, of which 90% of them were accusing me of posting a fake video. What surprised me most was the length some people went to to prove that it was indeed all made up.
To this day I am still dumbfounded by the reaction. Why would I go to such great lengths to CGI a fake video of a drone crashing into my head?
What value is there for me? I’ve made no money from ads, didn’t own the content so couldn’t sell it and got a tiny 200 new subscribers on YouTube.
I race for Ferrari, I am fully sponsored and run a successful web company that serves hundreds of thousands of people. I’m a pretty busy guy! I also have no interest in drones nor the agenda of the drone world. To me it made no sense.
Within 48hrs of the video going live I decided enough was enough and turned off comments, but that didn’t stop them. Once that happened I was faced with Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram comments — none of them nice.
It’s incredible how many glass experts, drone experts, head trauma experts, video experts, psychological experts and experts of any kind exist when the troll nation descends. Experts abound but they all missed a single key fact: I was actually hit in the head by a drone!
The pinnacle of these accusations was a very personal attack from a guy with a ponytail who clearly loves his drones, but not the facts.
It’s now been four days since the incident and I am still fielding calls from news websites, radio stations and Twitter commenters. I’ve managed to gain back some of my sanity since turning off YouTube comments (and blocking some angry Instagrammers), so with a clear head I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned.
What I’ve learned from posting a video that went viral
Think before you share!
My original expectations for the video were quite modest. At most I thought one or two local sites would feature it and we could have a laugh. Things quickly spun out of control and the sheer negativity of those commenting left me regretful I’d done it in the first place.
Content Brokers Are A Real Thing
If your video has even a sniffing chance of going viral you can expect a lot of mails (and phone calls) from companies who will offer you money for your content. What these companies do is repackage your content and then sell it to the major media companies such as MTV, CNN, Fox etc.
Two things you need to be aware of here:
First is make sure you own the content outright because if you don’t, you put yourself in a position to be sued by the real owners of said content.
If you’ve ticked off item number one then don’t say yes to the first broker who calls you. Give yourself the day to pick the best one because I can assure the offers come in thick and fast. The best offer I got (but never accepted - in fact I didn’t accept any offers) was $2,000 upfront and then a 70/30 revenue share on any deals they made with said media companies.
Viral Does Not Mean Money
If you don’t accept any of the deals mentioned above then your second option to earn cash is through ads.
All my videos have ads switched on by default. After 280,000 views this is how much money the video has made: $0.00. The truth is that in order to make money through advertising you’ll need multiple videos which are capable of generating millions of views.
So, if you’re doing it for the money… Don’t bother!
Try not take it personally
There are going to be haters and doubters. If you can, try not take it personally, because it will be unrelenting. Even if you don’t intend on upsetting people you’ll be surprised what can actually upset people. In my case it was the drone community who are trying their best to block regulation… I never even knew this group existed before Thursday. I do now though!
It’s not fake.
The stories that I have read to back up some of these “fake” statements are more elaborate than what actually happened… I was sitting at my desk and a drone smashed through my window and into my head.
The drone was damaged beyond repair. On the surface it appeared fine but 3 of the 4 motors were completely busted and the battery was found across the room.
The glass absorbed most of the impact and I was lucky that the tinted film we have on our windows stopped a lot of the shattered glass from hitting me.
Luckily my laptop wasn’t damaged but my main screen was. Replacement coming soon.
And, thanks for asking, I was largely unhurt. Except for being covered head-to-toe in small glass fibres I have a bruise on the side of my head which is barely worth mentioning… I was lucky.
Should you post that viral video?
My answer is really simple: Unless it’s kittens… Hell No. The Internet hates the truth apparently.