Viral. Virile. Same Thing?

pandemic gameWhat comes to your mind when “viral” is thrown across your path? Do you see wildly popular content shared by millions of people across the web? Do you wish that you could create similar content? Are you anticipating millions coming your way, so that you can retire to a life of ease? Or do you see your next round of the board game “Pandemic“?

I used to think that content which went viral implied that the content was trashy and low life. That is, until I came across this post on the kissmetrics blog, “The Science of Virality – Marketing Lessons from Internet Cats.” I was pleasantly surprised to see that viral content tends to be:

  • Surprising
  • Interesting
  • Intense (ideally awe-inspiring)
  • Positive
  • Actionable

viral-marketing-784218_960_720I don’t think those five characteristics of viral content only apply to online content. They apply to all content. They also apply to how we conduct ourselves as persons, whether we are business persons, working in conglomerates, in government, education, whatever. How viral are we as persons? How much do those five characteristics of viral content describe us? I always ask people working in Information Technology to think of themselves as being the nerves of the organization. They have no issues with that. The interesting thing is that when I ask them what nerves are for, I always get “pain” as one of the answers. Then I ask “What about pleasure?” and get either blank or confused looks in return. We default so much to the negative that we think being negative is normal. That’s why positive content goes viral. We need it, and I don’t mean mealy-mouthed “positive quotes” that seem more and more like repeatedly flogged dead horses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against positive inspirational quotes. It’s just that they get passed on, get used out of context and come across as lame in many cases, at least to me. Am I too jaded? No, I don’t think so, it just seems to me that many of those quotes are too “broad brush”, the way they are thrown around. Positive content needs to be so much more substantial.

What comes to your mind when “virile” is mentioned? Do you default to one aspect of virility only? I was talking to someone about organizations recently, and mentioned that we really ought to think about organizations not as organizations but as organisms. Apparently, she wasn’t familiar with the word “organism” so I pronounced it for her.”Or-ga-ni-sm” I said. She couldn’t say it, so I said it again, “Or-ga-ni-sm.” She came back with “Or-ga-sm.” Well. So much for all that talk about what’s on a man’s mind. The point is, the more virile we are as people, taking the whole meaning of “virile” instead of focusing on just that one aspect, then the more viral we will become. I include here the corresponding virtues of being feminine. The more gentlemanly we become, the more ladylike, the more we spread goodness, benevolence and respect, the more viral we will become.

Want to go viral? Then be virile! In all ways, not one.

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