When buzz phrase turns to buzz kill

This column is totally going viral! How can I say that? Well, I can’t, really.

But the point is that the phrase “going viral” is becoming so overused by media, bloggers, marketers, PR types and consumers alike to describe something that is “taking off” (when it isn’t always), that has definitely more than hit its tipping point — and could soon jump the shark.

“Going viral” has become one of the sexiest phrases out there, and essentially means becoming extremely popular in a very short amount of time.

Now everyone wants to be part of something that’s going viral, whether they’re creating it or sharing it. The Internet and social media, of course, have fuelled virality in ways pre-Internet couldn’t do, and the term  “going viral” has seeped into popular culture.

It’s referred to everywhere — in movies, TV, music and even books.

Whether it’s a YouTube video, a tweet, a Facebook photo, a meme, interactive flash game, app, software or a forwarded email, attaching the message “going viral” is an exciting way to get people to click on something and pass it on to others.

Certainly much of the shared stuff is awesome, but “going viral” has become so ubiquitous, so overused, that, often as not, it refers to things that aren’t going viral.

The term is used as kind of a desperate gimmick by marketers to generate exposure for products and by everyday people looking for fame for stuff that really isn’t catching on in the least.

So … I propose the time has come for all of us to start being far more discriminating about our use of “going viral.” To have some criteria and rules for what “going viral” is (e.g., 100,000 YouTube views in a matter of days is “going viral”; 9,000 views is not).

If we don’t, we’re totally going to ruin the meaning of this phrase through its overuse. People will stop clicking on it — or be far more suspicious — of anything that says “going viral.” It will come more to mean “going anti-viral.” Or buzz kill.

Failing that, perhaps we just move past it altogether and begin to use new words and phrases to describe the phenomenon of something getting popular really fast. Phrases like “holy contagious!” or “completely insane!” or “crazy buzz!”

Those could just as easily start to generate new excitement for something taking off. 

So, yes, as I was saying, this column is totally going viral, er, holy contagious!



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.