Five Highly Scientific Ways To Make A Viral Video

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Earlier this week, a New York Times article discussed what makes certain bits of web ephemera skyrocket to internet fame, or as the kids say, “go viral.” As you’d imagine, it has some real gems of wisdom:

  • “People preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics.”
  • Researchers identified “awe” as the driving force behind a viral video, an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”

Astute. However, in the spirit of scientific debate (and because I’m snowed into the Nerve offices and may never be able to leave), I decided to see if it couldn’t be put a bit more succinctly. After hours of painstaking research, I can comfortably state, your video will go viral if it contains one or more of these five things:

1. Cats:

Is it because there’s something oddly human about them? Do we see ourselves in our feline friends? Or are they just the companion of choice of a certain small but highly-powerful cabal of webcam-wielding, YouTube junkies?

2. Beautiful women who routinely do/say stupid things, doing/saying stupid things:


Sarah Palin cannot remember her own political principles. She writes them on her hand. Someone takes a picture. Pow! Like a rocket it flies. For other examples, see: Kate Gosselin, Heidi Montag, JWOWW, anyone else on Jersey Shore, and Megan Fox

3. Animals in the wild doing exactly what animals do in the wild:

Sharks eating things. Bears eating things. Lions yawning, sloths being slothful = internet gold. At heart, we are natural creatures, still fascinated by our four-legged brethren. Or, said cabal of cat-owners has not been into the actual outdoors since the invention of the internet, and thus have forgotten what animals act like.

4. Lady Gaga:

This one is obvious. As one tweeter tweeted: When life gives you lemons, ask for Lady Gaga.

5. Babies:

This video of Charlie biting his brother’s finger has been viewed one hundred and fifty eight MILLION times. To put that in perspective, that’s like every singe person in Hungary watching it, fifteen times. Is it that we’re evolutionarily predisposed to love them? Or just because they look and act like little monsters?

If anyone doubts the veracity of my list, I will take the Pepsi Challenge with those New York Times yahoos any day. And we’ll just see how well their ‘long,’ ‘intellectually challenging’ and ‘awe-inspiring’ article does against my video of an infant Lady Gaga playing with a kitten while a panda watches, lazily.