The Most Popular Post on Medium

Dave Pell
4 min readMay 27, 2016

When I was a little kid, I thought the most important thing I could achieve in my life would be to become president and help the world attain a state of global peace. Later I was determined to become a skilled doctor who would come up with a universal cure for all diseases. Then there was a period during which I was convinced that I should become a scientist and figure out a silver bullet solution for climate change. As I grew up, my focus became more interpersonal and I planned to dedicate my life to always making my family and friends feel loved and supported. Then I wanted to be a great husband and an excellent father.

Now I want to have the most popular post on Medium.

The path to this conclusion began during the earliest days of the Internet. I remember wanting to have the coolest CompuServe handle, and then setting other goals like having the most popular blog, the wildest MySpace page, the highest number of Twitter followers, the most liked selfies on Facebook, and the best disappearing below the belt Snapchat shot.

All those goals — the MySpace page, the Twitter followers, the world peace — seem so silly and meaningless now that I have the most popular post on Medium.

I remember the day my first child was born. I held his tiny body in my arms and immediately knew there could be no love as powerful as this. It was amazing. Almost as amazing as I feel right now having the most popular post on Medium.

And the feeling only seems to be getting better as I sit here, glued to my Medium stats page and refreshing Medium’s top stories page. Ping, ping, ping. The reads keep coming. The recommends won’t stop. It’s hard to explain the feeling to someone who’s never been in this position, but I imagine watching your stats rise while you have the top Medium post is probably something like ejaculating. Forever.

On a related note, Rihanna and Beyonce just contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a one-time offer for a menage-a-trois. And while that was obviously tempting, I had to turn them down. “Sorry,” I explained. “But right now I have the most popular post on Medium.”

A few minutes later, Bruce Springsteen Facetimed me to see if I’d be interested in sitting in with the E-Street band for a few nights of their current tour. And I’m like, “Oh Boss, this is just not great timing for me.” When I told him about my post, he said, “I wonder if you feel like I felt the week after Born to Run was released and I was on the covers of Time and Newsweek at the same time?” And I responded, “It’s like that. But way better.”

Just when I was done sending Springsteen on his way, President Obama called me on my cellphone and was like, “Dave, I need some advice on an urgent issue and the future of the nation and even the world could depend on your feedback. Can you get to DC?” I explained that I couldn’t come to DC, and I couldn’t even stay on the call, because it was distracting me from my stats page. “Mr. President, I have the most popular post on Medium.” Since he once had the most Retweeted Tweet and also won two elections for the most powerful position in the world, he totally got it. Well, he got it as much as someone who’s never had the most popular post on Medium could get it.

Tim Cook also seemed to get it when I rejected his offer to come down to Cupertino for a couple hours during which the iTunes team would follow my exact intructions on how to fix the product. I was all, “Tim, mine is the most popular post on Medium right now. Am I really gonna get in my car and drive to Cupertino?” We laughed. I could sense he was about to offer a ride down there in Apple’s secretive self-driving car. So I hung up.

I’ve been so busy watching my stats and reading your rave responses, I’ve hardly had the chance to think of what I should do as a follow-up to this experience. I suppose it’s not too late for me to be an excellent parent or cure all disease or solve climate change. But now that I know what it feels like, I think I’ll probably just try to have the most popular post on Medium again.

Dave Pell Writes NextDraft, the Most Acclaimed Newsletter on the Internet (which seemed like the best experience he’d ever have until he had the most popular post on Medium.)

Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.