So I wrote a midterm this morning on virology. It was fine but it got me thinking on the term viral. It’s a big thing to create a viral video or tweet. What is a virus though?
Viruses are zombies. Yeah–they can spread like wildfire, mainly because viruses mindlessly reproduce without producing anything of value to the general world. Viruses replicate and mutate without using their own metabolism or machinery for the most part, only providing a genetic template. Despite this or rather because of this parasitism their genetic template kills, destroys, creates lasting scars, and can continue to shed from an apparently healthy host for long periods of time, affecting all those in close contact with that host.
Could we reach a little and say that viruses have done some good in the world? Most definitely–they have kept populations in check and created selection pressure for the hosts. In fact viral interactions even accomplish pretty amazing things: they strengthen our immune systems, inactivated viruses serve as vectors for modern medical treatment, and ancient retroviral inclusions account for parts of genomes. However, viruses will be much more famous in the course of history for the lives they cut short than for their ultimate role in selection and genetic development.
In a culture where virility is the aim–for much of our art, actions, and communications–does the ultimate impact of those things that claim the title viral reflect the pathogenic viruses we know so well.
Is it possible for virility to build people, things, or ideas up? Or is the viral system setting the stage for collapse? In many viral infections the host cell must eventually lyse, similarly many things made famous via the viral culture will disperse with the pop of the bubble–the hashtag will die off, the legislation won’t be changed, people will only be moved for a moment. Despite much replication and mutation of the original viral organism the infection and interest in it will be self-limiting.
The legacy of viral trends may only be how inane and harmful they were to development of true and original thought.
Ultimately, it challenges me personally to think on this–it pushes me to take care in what I propagate. I strive to be original, but with so many people on this earth it is easy to start taking cues from those around us. I NEVER want to be a zombie: I NEVER want to propagate something which could be unjustly hurtful in the short term or the long term, I NEVER want to be remembered for the destruction I cause in this world, and I NEVER want to twist and break beautiful things for my own self interest.
I would say this is one of the reasons I rarely repost things on social media and I generally choose not to chime in on issues if I am not equally willing to put my money, or my work, where my mouth is. There are many amazing causes out there, but unless I am willing to pick up that flag and run that race I will strive not to pour empty words on open wounds, especially not if those words were someone else to begin with.
P.S. The last bit sounds a bit rant-like and maybe somewhat condescending–be assured it is not meant that way, but is more of a personal code. If you feel differently about any or all that I have said let me know! I’m totally up for discussion, just please, keep it civil.