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How Does One Go Viral?

John Turnbull

Posted on December 3, 2018 07:01

1 user

An obsession akin to buying a lottery ticket.

When a human has a virus or goes viral, it means virtually the same thing. Yet in computerspeak, the two are as far apart as things can be; the former can wreck the user's life and the latter can make it. The only similarity is both have the capacity to spread quickly.

Even odder is society's desire to go viral. It's viewed as modern-day gold mining, the improved get-rich-quick-scheme; the fame we crave wrapped in a badly edited YouTube video. It's so important to many that is supercedes earning money by working hard for a living and actually making a difference in the world. It even becomes the fantastical basis of a retirement plan. 

Yet so many try and so few succeed. Buying a lottery ticket has the same odds. When Andy Warhol said we all get 15 minutes of fame, he didn't know about online social media. So why is going viral so important that people are doing more and more extreme things to try and achieve it? Why is this fleeting fame deemed such a desirable goal that people will post drinking boiled water or shooting themselves in the face to promote a crappy rap song? And why, oh why, cats?

To me, its importance is just part and parcel of the whole false popularity that the Internet seems to base itself on. It's the same as wanting 100,000 friends on a social media site; people one has never seen and will likely never meet. Numbers have been the basis of worth for time immeasurable, but they used to be tangible ones. Or.. were they? That's a whole other topic...

Supposedly there's a science behind this nonsense, the two main ingredients that should be in viral soup being virality coefficiency (the number of people one is sharing content with) and cycle time (the length of time it takes to share said content). These factors plus emotional response are what advertisers are putting millions into on research, trying to pinpoint and thus create the next-big-viral-thing that they can glom onto to peddle their wares. 

Of course none of this will truly explain why one's video of their baby farting a cloud of talcum powder into the air got 50 views and the same concept (different baby, though) posted by someone else gets 500,000, even when both started with a similar sample size of friends and likes. Quality and education will never be the basis of online virality.

But if going viral is your golden ticket, here are some steps to follow:

1) Don't bother watching or reading any "sure-fire" steps to becoming viral, ESPECIALLY if there's a charge.

2) See #1

3) Neither master nor click baiting is a sin, so utilize both.

4) Concentrate on reality-based importance like family, health, work-life balance and making the world a better place instead of fleeting and inconsequential "fame".

5) Turn off your computer and go outside for a walk.

John Turnbull

Posted on December 3, 2018 07:01

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Source: UPI

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