In the last ten years tough, the term virus, or more specifically “viral”, has found a completely new identity for itself. While it still has a negative connotation in some circles, attach it to the word video, and not only does the word become positive, but something we want to consume and even create. Viral videos are an obsession in our culture today, and I believe will be one of the defining characteristics of Generations Y and Z. Now, thanks to the power of the internet and video sharing platforms like YouTube, Reddit, and even Facebook, Instagram and Vine, it is not uncommon for a viral video to bring in a larger audience in one day than the biggest blockbuster of the year does during it’s entire run in theaters.
I’ve had a small, small taste of viral success in my time online. Who You Are: A Message to All Women went from 10,000 to over 1 million views in just 4 months. This was amazing, and really fun to watch because, let’s face it, stuff like that just doesn’t happen everyday and I truly believe in the message the video spreads. But Who You Are is nothing compared to some of the true giants of internet virality.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last ten years, here are some recent statistics on viral videos…
The Viral Hall Of Fame
The Evolution of Dance currently clocks in just shy of 300 million views and will also celebrate it’s tenth anniversary next year. Maybe it’s time to add the Cupid Shuffle and the Duggie for part two.
Baby Panda and the dancing fool in the Orange Crush t-shirt are small potatoes when compared to everyone’s favorite British babies though. Charlie Bit My Finger has 812 million hits since 2007. Looks like Google Adsense will be funding Charlie and his brother’s college education.
All these videos are at least seven years old though which, in the age of the internet, makes them ancient relics. Today, videos can gain traction even faster. The Kony 2012 video by Invisible Children received just shy of 40 million in it’s first 24 hours online. The 30 minute documentary reached over 100 million by the end of its first week. In comparison, David After Dentist, which is considered the prince of the viral video era, took 349 days, nearly a year, to garner it’s first 100 million views. Clearly, the virus is getting more and more powerful.
Videos are not the only things that go viral. When Instagram for Android was released in April of 2012, it recieved over one million downloads in the first day. Combined, Instagram and Vine received over 50 million download in their first 18 months of existence.
The internet has also allowed for ideas and causes to be catapulted into the national spotlight. 2014 saw the rise of The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. Facebook released statistics showing the use of the term “Ice Bucket Challenge” on their site rising from less than 100k to more than 28 million uses in just 6 weeks. The top ten most popular IBC videos, featuring the likes of Justin Bieber, JayZ, Selena Gomez, and the cast of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon garnered a combined 50 million hits across all social media platforms.*
We live in a world where the opportunity to spread a message, or a sneezing panda, has been given to almost anyone on the planet. It has never been easier to say what you want to say to the world, and therefore to make the change you want to make.
But is this idea of “going viral” really all that new?
The Original Viral Message
The followers that he left to carry on the message were unschooled fisherman and tax collectors with no experience starting a movement. They lived under one of the most oppressive and powerful governments in the history of the world. 10 of his 12 followers were all killed within 50 years of his death. Number 11 was banished to an island for life, and number 12 took his own life.
All things considered, the message of Jesus should have died along with him long ago. And yet…
And yet today, the book that contains the written accounts of his life is the number one best selling book of all time.
Every year, the majority of the world’s work force takes time off to mark his birthday. In fact, the most used calendar in our world today is dated in relation his death.
Every Sunday, nearly one third of the world’s population gathers to proclaim and praise his name. We’ve been talking about videos with hundreds of millions of views, but how about 2.9 billion followers?
We give the internet a lot of credit for giving us the power the make our message heard. There is no denying the internet is a great tool, but I cannot give it all the credit, because God has been making things go viral for thousands of years.
Science and technology are not the enemy of God, nor are their discoveries a way of disproving that He exists.
God’s been harnessing the power of a world wide web for centuries; we’re just catching up.