TUESDAY, 6/4/13, Issue 111
I am writing to alert you to the changing meaning of the word viral. This morning a WJCT-FM news reporter stated that the video of the Memorial Day brawl at Jax beach had “gone viral.” This use of the term raises a question. What does “viral” mean? As of 9 am today, three videos have been uploaded to YouTube, all consisting of the same brawl footage. One has had 12,879 views, another 3,857, and the third 2,739. Because I majored in English, I am not capable of doing the math. However, I do know something about words.
I estimate that roughly 20,000 views have occurred of an incident not depicting our city in its most favorable light. No doubt twenty thousand is a lot of hits. The incident is ugly, and for that reason I have not clicked on it. Still, two other videos uploaded in the last month tagged with our city’s name have garnered even more hits. Have they ‘gone viral’?
The winner of the month’s “What’s Gone Viral in Jaxonpool” contest goes to the Hooters Bikini Contest (being a thinking man, I did not click on it). Following the logic of the WJCT news reporter, this Hooters video has ‘gone viral.’
The runner up (and a very close second!) in the “What’s Gone Viral in Jax” contest is something uploaded by a towing service. Not owning a car and relying solely on public transportation, I do not need to click on it. This may be the most ‘viral’ video ever created by a towing company.
In third place is the first ‘viral’ video of the Memorial Day Jax Beach brawl:
Granted, the brawl video has only been up for six days while the Hooters one has been available for three weeks. The brawl video seems to be on a pace to surpass the Hooters video. Still, one year from now, which one do you think will have more hits?
In any case, use of the word “viral’ obviously is undergoing transition. Previously, I had thought the following qualified:
Or even something like this:
Back in 1755, when Samuel Johnson was putting the finishing touches on the first major English-language dictionary, he was disappointed to discover that the meanings of words could not be stabilized. “When I had thus enquired into the original of words, I resolved to show likewise my attention to things; . . . to limit every idea by a definition strictly logical, . . . But these were the dreams of a poet doomed at last to wake a lexicographer.”
I too am waking from the dreams of a poet and am finding that, indeed, viral has many meanings.
Dr. Tristan Voltaire, Ph.D.
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August’s List, by Farinelli. Music videos published in the last two weeks. Alternative rock, Americana, cosmic, dance-pop, dream pop, electropunk, experimental, folk, indie, lo-fi, noise, post punk, nu-gaze, psyche pop, psychedelic, shoegaze, synth pop, trip hop, etc. Watch & listen