I think the time has come to either put a moratorium on the word VIRAL, or make a definition that actually has a REAL NUMBER and parameters attached with it. Because currently, it’s a shit show. Last week someone tried to tell me they successfully launched a viral ad campaign. When I tracked down the link I saw the truth: the video had 1,000 views and had been up since 2011. BOLD FACE LIES! (I screamed in my head).
The definition of viral (when not talking about a medical condition of course) is vaguely “An image, video, advertisement, etc. that is circulated rapidly on the Internet.”And Tech Terms is a little more helpful, but still not definitive: “While there is no exact number of views that makes something ‘go viral,’ most viral media is viewed by more than a million people in less than a week.” And this guy proposes a video be deemed viral if it gets more than 5 million views in a 3-7 day period.
Now I don’t care what the real definition is, but I want there to be one. No one gets to walk around and say “I won an Oscar” or “I’m nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize” without people calling bullshit on them, so why are we not doing the same with the use of the word viral?
And with everyone in the universe’s burning desire to strike gold with a viral hit for mad cash or internet fame (in fact employers would most likely give a much bigger shit if you are behind a viral campaign versus the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize), the word is carrying too much weight for us to go on any longer with it’s definition being whatever the hell someone wants it to be.
So I don’t know who is best to make this call, Wikipedia or Webster’s or the World Wide Web, but I am ready to campaign to stop this web of lies. And once the definition is in place, I will happily make a citizen’s arrest when people misuse the word viral. Who’s with me?