While they’re not viral on a global or national scale, op-eds in the Harvard Crimson newspaper often become viral on a local scale among undergrads here. The “Most Read” sidebar on the Crimson’s website almost always includes an op-ed piece, such as What We Wish We Were Doing, currently third most read out of all articles. Yet students usually don’t have to look at this sidebar to know which op-eds are trending. Rather, they are passed along social media outlets, shared constantly on Facebook, and sent out over almost every email list.
The Crimson, of course, is thrilled when their articles go viral. At times, it is overly clear that they publish certain op-eds as linkbait. Some will be shockingly controversial, and the Crimson will publish these even if they are poorly written or weakly argued. In contrast, the articles that seem to go truly go viral are those with a positive spin. They offer an optimistic perspective, whether they’re reminding us of the day we got our Harvard acceptance letters (Five O’Clock Somewhere), telling us to stop complaining (Harvard’s Whiny One-Upmanship), or encouraging us to make more time to share casual conversations (Bring Back Banter). They also have the potential for immediate impact, as they generally have the purpose of making people pause for a moment and focus on the positives of being at Harvard.