Viral in It’s Own World

In my last blog post, I noted how pervasive the discussion of success with social media has become in our lives. I wish to return to that point, this time addressing a specific measure of that success: “Virality”

What makes a photo, video, story, etc. go viral? What exactly constitutes the threshold for something to be identified as having gone viral? I would argue that you don’t need 10,000,000 views to call yourself viral. Some things just have a very particular audience, and that audience is extremely picky about what they want to see, watch, or read. That being said, it’s incredible that these things rarely break free of that limitation.

As you surely noticed by now, I am an avid watchdog of what goes on in and with regards to Israel. In my sphere, virality is subject to that very particular audience I mentioned before. The latest video to go viral can be viewed here. As the video points out, skip to 1:58 to find out why this video went viral with almost 200,000 views since it was published last Thursday.

Image

Now 200,000 views may not seem like a big deal, but think about how particular the audience is for a political matter such as this. How many people actually follow their own nation’s political stories, let alone that of the United Nations? In addition, the video has been repeatedly targeted by anti-Israel hackers who wish to hide this story from the public [if the link does not work, this is why-see below).

Image

If the story is confusing to you, let me explain in short: The United Nations gathers periodically to address situations around the world and often adopts resolutions that express their official opinion or plan of action for the matter. Last Thursday, November 14, the General Assemby of the UN adopted nine political resolutions against Israel, and zero against the entire rest of the world. Thinking her microphone was off and she was merely speaking to the person beside her, an unnamed UN interpretor muttered:

“I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.” [ie. Syria, Egypt]

Ignoring the actual politics of the situation because they are tremendously complex and could fill thousands of blog entries on their own, let’s take a look at the situation at hand.

First, thanks to modern web streaming technology, the entire free-access-Internet world was able to view a live webcast of a United Nations General Assembly session (maybe it’s just me, but that feels pretty cool). Second, because of that live webcast, those who did not see this occur live could be forwarded clips from the webcast or view them on YouTube. The United Nations has an interesting new level of accountability that we have never seen before thanks to social media.

For the official story, click here.

10 comments

  1. Mike, how embarrassing for that interpreter! My favorite line of yours is at the end when you tied everything together: “The United Nations has an interesting new level of accountability that we have never seen before thanks to social media.” It is so incredibly true, and holds not only for the UN, but for anyone and everyone online! With new technologies emerging daily and vast communities forming online, anything now has the potential to go viral. Like the UN, we are all accountable for our personal brands online. We are seeing more and more responsibility on our ends to represent appropriately all that we stand for, and this increasing accountability stems purely from the fact that anyone has access to anything online. As Web 2.0 and social media allows the average Joe to sit in on UN General Assemblies, government speeches, presidential debates, what have you, everything and everyone involved is forced to be more cautious about what is said, posted, or conveyed in body language. We are becoming tough critics.

    1. I just hope that people actually hold these officials accountable! Unfortunately, bias plays a tremendous role in when steps are actually taken in such matters.

  2. As Taylor pointed out, your last sentence is really interesting! Before social media and live streaming, important meetings would remain private and an accidental comment such as this wouldn’t have been a problem since the public would never have known about it. While I hadn’t heard about this situation and I still don’t know too much about it, it’s shocking to me. However, I think it’s fascinating how we are so much more connected to politics due to social media. Between videos like this, Twitter accounts, and the ease of sharing articles on Facebook, it’s easier to stay in the loop. At the same time, I think this requires a great deal of caution. A simple muttered phrase like this can spark a larger problem with just a few clicks and shares.

    1. Meagan, great point. There are countless examples of such incidents on social media where a simple post was improper, misinterpreted, or not intended for the public and brought a dramatic reaction. For instance, on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a commemorating tweet by the Israeli military was misinterpreted as a breaking news event, and sparked a sudden rise in crude oil prices.

  3. thanks for this mike, i didnt know the UN had streaming live channel. echoing what has been posted before, the fact that you can view how these governing bodies inner workings are, as you put, is very cool. more importantly, i think that the little mishap is a common sense conclusion that the interpreter had. nonetheless, the fact that we can catch these kinds of mishaps is not just entertain but sheds light that perhaps the people that work for these organizations do have thoughts and feelings of their own, and are not just there to do as they are told.
    i think that as social media continue to grow, more and more of these conversations will come to light. i think an important question to raise at this juncture is how do you ensure that some measure or privacy is maintained as our whole world goes live? or is that something we will need to give up? it will be interesting to see how they develop.

    1. I really hope that there will be an ever-growing transparency in government affairs, following this new trend. While some things may be best left private, we claim to be a democracy, yet it’s impossible to closely monitor what our elected officials are saying on our behalf, and keep them updated on our opinions. Maybe social media will make an actual dialogue more common

  4. I totally agree with Taylor and Meagan. Social media has opened up so many avenues to get involved and follow politics closely. I personally have the FoxNews App on my phone that I get on daily to just see what is going on. I actually had heard about this situation and to be honest I wasn’t that surprised. People are always muttering things under their breath and it is just unfortunate that they were caught doing so.
    I think what this mean is that all people, not only politicians need to be extra careful about what they say and especially where they say it. This comment may not have gone “viral” without social media but it would most likely still have been spread around to all the others at this UN meeting. I agree that people need to be cautious about what they do because of the threat of something going viral for the world to see.

    1. While I agree that these incidents can be dangerous and/or unfortunate, I have to say this particular situation was more important than you give it credit for. UN bias against the State of Israel is a highly-discussed topic in the world of Israeli politics and advocacy, so a slip-up like this is exactly what we as advocates try to use as evidence to prove the existence of such bias in what is meant to be a stabilizing organization for the world’s many nations.

  5. Ah the image of the perfectly diplomatic UN is shattered. I think this is going to happen more and more as we move further into wearable technology and more adaptable forms of media. Who knows when someone will be recording you? That being said, I think the public is going to start to become a bit desensitized to remarks like those muttered by the UN official. These thoughtless comments, which we all make, are going to become run of the mill and boring after awhile.
    This situation speaks a lot to the future of privacy in politics and the media, like the other commenters said, so it should be interesting to see how it all plays out in the future!

    1. Please see my response to Covington about how this particular instance differs from all others.

%d bloggers like this: