When participating in more personal activities on the internet, one is still very much involved in mass communication. The content created and posted by the individual is open to public viewing. This means there is potential for interaction, which is the root of mass communication.
As I sit in the library typing this blog post, I am only interacting with my laptop. By using keys and controls, I manipulate the post as I create it. I can change the font, the color, the length, and the diction used in this post. I am the only one with the power to control this original post. Once I share it with the world by hitting the post button, any user on WordPress.com has access to it.
With my post open for view on the internet, any user has the ability to read it. Simply by reading it, the user it not necessarily interacting with it. If the user reads it and shares it on a social media site, they have created a two-way connection that defines interaction. From their social media post, a second user could see it and post a comment on it. A third user could “like” the comment. If this third user has thousands of active followers, the original post would gain a larger audience. This web of action and reaction is what mass communication is all about.
Of course, this random post is not going to go viral in the way described above. I am not sharing any new or revolutionary ideas that are relevant enough to gain serious web traffic, but by posting this, I create an opportunity for interaction. Mass media is not a given result of personal internet uses, but it is certainly a possibility. This fact is how we coined the term “going viral.”
Usually, we use the phrase “go viral” to describe memes or Youtube videos. It is how we express that an element of media has gained wide and unexpected attention via the internet. In this day and age, anything can go viral.
Since the beginning of 2016, the internet has featured the following viral themes- Pokemon Go, Rio Olympics, deaths of famous figures (Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, etc), Hillary Clinton’s health, Melina Trump’s plagiarized speech, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the success of Hamilton, the release of several comic book movies (Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Captain America Civil War, X-Men Apocalypse), and countless other stories and scandals.
Thanks to social media and the internet, the potential for interaction is great, which causes these stories to spread and accumulate reactions, analyses, and comments.