Do We Need a New ‘Viral?’
Image Source: Digital Marketing Institute
“That meme is so funny. It’s definitely going to go _____.”
“Someone created this ____ TikTok challenge that everyone around the world is doing.”
Can you fill in the blank? If you guessed “viral” – ding, ding, ding. In the world of social media, there are choice buzz words that are unavoidable and part of our daily jargon when taking about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Co.: ‘hashtags’; ‘likes’; ‘post’; ‘captions’; ‘filters’… and of course, ‘viral.’
Recently, I’ve been thinking about ‘viral,’ and how — at least for me — it has taken on an entirely different connotation in the age of coronavirus.
‘Viral’ is defined as something that is contagious, widespread, circulated rapidly. The word can and does apply to a handful of situations and settings.
In a social media sense, the word implies a pinnacle of sorts. It signifies that a piece of content has reached the highly sought after and coveted status of mass popularity and exposure. Conversely, in another context (and one that more closely applies to the current situation), it relates to something that the entire world has been fighting against for much of 2020. Something unwanted that everyone wants to avoid.
I have no doubt that ‘viral’ will continue to be used to describe creative content, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I personally am now hyper-aware of a term that I used to casually pepper into sentences in my everyday personal and professional life. The first time I uttered the phrase ‘it went viral’ a couple of months ago, I actually visibly cringed and felt a quick tinge of discomfort and realization. Amazing how the meaning behind a word or brand name (Cc: Corona Beer), can change in an instant.
Will there be a next ‘viral’ eventually added to Urban Dictionary and incorporated into all of our vocabularies? What would the word even be? Does it really stand a chance at becoming as viral as ‘viral’?
Thank you for coming to my brain’s TedTalk. 🙂
Posted by Ilana