Currently going viral is the story of Agnes Fenton, a 110-year-old New Jersey women who chalks her long life up to the three Miller High Lifes and shot of whiskey she’s drank every day for 70 years. Of course it’s going viral and getting aggregated like crazy. It’s an awesome story. It’s obviously about far more than Ms. Fenton’s age, though—media and Internet users are touting the Three-Beers-A-Day diet as the secret to longevity.
They’re not kidding when they say the media cycle is short nowadays. It seems everyone forgot that we discovered the secret to living well into the triple digits only earlier this summer. And interestingly enough, that literal lifehack was to not drink any alcohol at all. Ever.
In mid-June, 115-year-old Brooklyn resident Susannah Mushatt made headlines when she became the oldest person on earth after 116-year-old Jeralean Talley died in Detroit and passed on the title. The Internet thought it was cool that the world’s oldest person lived in Brooklyn and began telling her story.
It was widely reported that Ms. Mushatt never drank alcohol and credited her longevity to the fact that she’s abstained from drinking and carried only chewing gum and lace lingerie as vices. Everyone zoned right in on that fact, touting headlines like “The Oldest Person In the World Told Us Her Secrets To A Long Life” and tweeting that “she never drank or smoked.” There was mention of her daily routine of bacon and eggs as well, but the “no alcohol” bit sat more with readers because, let’s be honest, not drinking would actually better one’s health and a lot of people eat bacon and eggs for breakfast.
Now, less than two months later, the same clickbait headlines are circulating the Internet, but this time, they’re featuring the complete opposite “secret.” Some headlines are coming right out with it like one from Thrillist that reads “110-Year-Old Woman Says Miller High Life Is the Secret to Eternal Life” and another from Jezebel, “Dope AF 120-Year-Old Woman Says Champagne of Beers is Key to Longevity.” And the best part: some publications that reported on the first story are reporting on the second as well. The Daily News, for example, published an article attributing Ms. Fenton’s longevity to Miller High Life this morning after having covered Ms. Mushatt’s secrets to becoming a supercentenarian last month (albeit the bit about alcohol wasn’t in the June headline).
So only a month after a viral hit, the Internet was able to spread the exact same story to trending status by giving the punchline a 180-degree spin. What an interesting time for media.