Can You Film Me Squatting? I’m trying to go viral here…

Do you ever see a video show up on your timeline with a seemingly infinite amount of like, comments, and shares and you think to yourself… of all things, how did THIS video get so popular?? Viral videos are spreading quicker than chicken pox in a kindergarten classroom yet it seems there just might be a method to the madness.

To get started, I googled “viral” and you will not believe what I found. Merriam-Webster has the following definitions:

viral  /ˈvīrəl/  adjective

  1. of the nature of, caused by, or relating to a virus or viruses.
  2. relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.

*insert shook face here* Do you SEE the second definition?? How long you think that’s been there? You think pictures drawn on the inside of cave walls back in the day ever went viral? Yeah, me neither.

Anyways, now that we know what ~viral~ means, let’s learn HOW to become viral ourselves. According to a New Yorker article by Maria Konnikova titled, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You,” the most common traits of viral videos are that they provoke an emotional response (positive response is best), they provoke some sort of arousal, they are memory-inducing, they have a social currency, they are a quality source of media, and they have practical value. If you reflect back on the videos you are most likely to share on social media, do they have many of these qualities? I know mine do…

Unlike the New Yorker article which is backed up by relevant research, there are lots and LOTS of sites teaching you “how to go viral” that might not be as credible as you think. An example is an article titled, “How to Make a Viral Fitness Video,” which recommended the following tips: keep the basics in check, consistency is key, credit yourself, and capitalize on the moment. I don’t know about you, but to me these traits don’t sound extremely provoking or emotion-inducing like we would expect. Do fitness videos differ that much from your “typical” viral video? Although a fitness video potentially has a smaller target audience, I think sticking with the previously mentioned six traits can take your lifting video to the next level instead of just posting the same thing all the other 48302jdfewjd08r5w843 “fitness bloggers” post everyday. 🙂

Another take on ~viral~ content comes from Mr. Kevin Allocca, a YouTube trends manager (he literally watches YouTube videos for a living… I think I went to the wrong school)…

According to Mr. Allocca, viral videos happen because of three things:

  1. tastemakers
  2. communities of participation
  3. unexpectedness

He brings up a good argument for why videos go viral with even BETTER examples – watch it, it’s funny. My personal favorite is the clip with the cyclist talking about how typical it is for obstructions to be in bike lanes as he continually runs into them (5:38 if you’re not going to watch the whole thing *eye-roll*). Nobody who starts watching that video with no previous knowledge of what happens would have predicted his funny and maybe painful actions. Because of this, people want to share it to share the shock they ~felt~ when first watching it.

The word ~felt~ takes us back to those things called feelings which was the number one trait of a viral video… we went full circle if ya didn’t notice. So whether you share a video because of the emotions you feel when you watch it or whether you really just want to show off that grainy, poor quality video of your new PR, keep in mind what makes something viral and you might just become as popular as this lady with her wine weights. Cheers.


*Lifting* Observations & Expectations

Challenges can be fun, right? WNYC, a New York public radio station, released a challenge that would make most millennials cringe, titled “Bored and Brilliant.” It consists of six daily challenges that get our minds off of our cell phones and into the real world. After skimming through the options to find the one I wanted to attempt to tackle, I found myself laughing at some of the challenges. A “Photo Free Day”? If you think I’m giving up my snap streaks then think again… Delete my favorite app? Absolutely not… Post an away message? I haven’t done that since my AIM days… After all these rejections to the challenges, I realized I may need these more than I thought…

I finally settled on the Bored and Brilliant Challenge 5: One Small Observation. A guest on the show mentioned how different his cab rides were after the iPhone was invented since he now spends most of his time staring at his phone versus staring at the world around him. The audio clip encouraged me to get into a creative mindset by going somewhere public to watch people and to let my mind wander and notice things. I decided to take this challenge to a place that is easy to let your mind wander… the gym. I tried to pay particular attention to peoples actions around me and even learned a little bit about myself along the way. I noticed that, like myself, people often have little routines they do (maybe without even realizing it) before they start a lift. I know that I always wiggle my foot a certain way before getting my weight off the squat rack and observing others I saw particular steps taken, specific breathing patterns, and even certain twitches that some people made to start their lifts as well. For me, this challenge pushed me to stay off my phone between sets which is something I struggle with on a daily basis.

Sadly, I’m not the only one who’s so addicted to their phone that they use it WHILE working out. It really is harder than some might think, though, to keep our phones out of our hands while working out. A New York Times article titled, “Cellphones Test Strength of Gym Rules,” discusses some of the different views regarding cellphones being allowed or not allowed in the gym. Personally, I use my phone to track my weight as soon as I get into the gym, throughout my workout because I have workouts apps on it, and then even ~more~ throughout my workout to send texts, tweets, you name it, between sets of my workout… but is that “wrong”? According to the article, cellphones are typically banned in gyms to prevent annoying surrounding customers by speaking loudly on the phone, sitting on equipment while not using it, etc. So, to me, I think using my cellphone while working out is perfectly fine. Would my workouts potentially go faster if I didn’t use my phone? Probably. But I enjoy staying connected, changing my music when a dull song comes on, and even staying up to date on the latest snap stories during a good lift.

Whether you spend too much time on your phone because of work or (the lesser) social media, we all deserve a break from it to let our minds ~wander~. Spending more time mindlessly taking in the beauty around you and less time stressing over how many likes your last tweet got, (see where your anxiety is really coming from here) could help your brain feel different in a good way. Happy mind-wandering!