For some reason I’ve been fascinated by why certain stories/articles go viral. It’s obvious why breaking news – such as the death of Bin Laden for example – may go viral, because it signifies a major event or outcome. But other instances are less obvious.
There has been a significant amount of research on why certain stories go viral, and mentioned above, many viral stories involve a major event. But they also evoke primal human emotions – greed, fear, sadness, envy, etc. – or entice the readers’s curiosity through an irresistible headline. But some viral stories involve not evoking an emotion but rather a ‘shared narrative’.
Here is an article that went hugely viral Why are Adults so busy? Notice how the subject matter is apolitical and on the surface seems kinda bland in a news cycle dominated by major personalities such as Hillary and Trump – it’s about why adults are so busy – a question that everyone, regardless of their politics, is curious about and can relate to (a shared narrative). Even for Ann Coulter, despite her rapier wit and decades as a public figure, none of her individual columns will ever be as viral that seemingly mundane article about adults being busy. Or the Wait But Why article about being ‘Insufferable on Facebook’. It’s weird how that works…how articles that seem mundane can be so successful, whereas as opinionated articles that try to get a reaction out of readers tend to have the opposite effect. Perhaps this is a symptom of the ‘post-pundit‘ era we find ourselves in, in which more and more people have become deaf to punditry.
One reason why the alt-right has been so influential is because it bypasses punditry and instead uses decentralized means of disseminating its message, through social media and thousands of anonymous contributors on imageboards, blogs, and forums. The internet is becoming reality, if it isn’t already. Amazon is consuming the world right now, subsuming brick and mortar stores as its stock price keeps rising to no end. Facebook and Twitter are the arteries through which information and advertising dollars flow. Pundits began writing about the alt-right only after it became influential.