Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Maddie. Maddie Wonders, “What does it mean to go viral?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Maddie!

What did you think of Baby Shark? How about Caine’s Arcade? Did you watch that huge glacier collapse in Iceland? These videos captured the attention of several million people — all within a few days, thanks to the Internet!

These are all examples of viral videos. In the winter, viral is the last word want to hear. It describes illnesses that easily spread from one person to another. Sometimes, this can lead a whole classroom to be sick at one time.

But if you’re looking for Internet fame, then viral is a word you love. Today, “going viral” means sharing something via email or social media that spreads quickly to millions of people online. The term “viral video” didn’t come around until 2009. It was first used to describe the video “David after Dentist.”

Viral videos can turn people into Internet celebrities overnight. Can you imagine waking up tomorrow and learning that millions of people know your name? For some, that’s a dream come true. Others like to keep their lives a little more private.

However, privacy and viral videos don’t really go together. Usually, viral videos have at least 5 million views. And they’re not just a big deal online! When a video goes viral, people talk about it. They describe it to their friends and families. They laugh about it at the lunch table. Viral videos don’t just spread through shares—word of mouth still goes a long way.

What are viral videos about? They can be about just about anything. Many are funny videos that make people laugh. Others may have actual events caught on camera. The common theme of viral videos is that they’re interesting. They inspire people to share them with their friends.

Do you have a pet that does something funny? How about a friend with a special talent? Is there something really cool about your hometown? Any of these topics can become viral videos.

Today, there are more videos online than ever. People can easily take videos using just their smartphones and upload them to sites like YouTube. Over five billion videos are watched online each day. Which of those videos will go viral? You can never know for sure. However, a few characteristics do make videos more likely to go viral.

Most viral videos are short. 19 percent of people close a video after the first ten seconds. That means a video that’s funny or interesting at the beginning is more likely to go viral. Additionally, videos that cause laughter or happy emotions are shared more often. Finally, a video is much more likely to go viral if it’s timely. Anything that connects to world events has a chance to reach many people.

Do you have a favorite viral video or picture? Would you like to be the next viral YouTube star? In today’s digital world, anything is possible.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will take you to the remotest areas of the Earth!