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It’s the same concept, only the names have changed. Earlier, it used to be called 15 minutes of fame. Now, it’s called ‘going viral’. But even though the concepts have remained the same, something fundamental has changed over the years. It’s the accessibility to this short-term fame.
In the pre-internet days, the 15 minutes of fame could either come for some accomplishment or for something completely out of the blue. Anyone could find temporary fame for a book they wrote or for saving a news reporter who tripped while reporting on camera. But, it had limited accessibility and life. In fact, it wasn’t really measurable.
Sure, you could talk about an event within your circle as much as you want, but who is to say everyone outside your locality did too. There weren’t ‘retweets’ or ‘activity’ to track the success of anything. It was just word of mouth. And it fizzled out soon.
Surprisingly enough, even with all the things available today to make the few minutes of fame last longer than it would have earlier, it somehow dies sooner than expected. Today’s fickle fame, also known as ‘going viral’, basically means a post – a joke, a picture, an article, or a meme – spreading on social media and the internet like wildfire.
People would be sharing it, responding to it, and talking about it. This may continue for a day or two, even a week if you’re lucky, and then it’s over. You and your golden post are forgotten to be left in a dump of similar golden posts. And it’s because there are so many people out there fighting to snatch the limelight.
The Real Deal
Speaking from a tactical business standpoint, it’s great to go viral on the internet. Even if it’s short-lived, it gets you fame and recognition as well as a hunger for doing better. But, it can often lead to people lusting after it alone and limiting their creativity.
The expectation that everything you do henceforth should be as big as that one viral post is superficial and improbable. It is just not going to happen. So you spend your days trying to crack the code to the fame. Your content gets molded to fit the ‘viral code’, and it’s just downhill from there.
Take Luis Fonsi’s hit song, for example. “Despacito” overtook “Gangnam Style” to become Youtube’s most popular video of all time. Fonsi had been singing professionally since 1998, with varying degrees of success, but Despacito made him a household name. Articles got written about him, he was trending on Twitter, and he got awards as well. All was good.
And then the fame fizzled out. Fonsi didn’t even wait to do an album and released 2 singles at a few months’ intervals – only to see the usual lukewarm reception he got prior to Despacito. That’s how fickle fame is.