Viral Media: How Public Health Messages Spread Like Wildfire

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I’ve come to appreciate the word ‘viral.’ When I say ‘viral,’ I do not mean it in the strict medical sense that can instill fear into any public health department, but rather, in the more modern social media sense. To become viral in this day and age is to become known, to become known is to enter a position of power, and it is those positions of social power that allow for the proliferation of vital messages. These messages include those with a public health focus, those that depend on becoming viral in order to tangibly save lives.

Throughout my internship here at The L.A. Trust, specifically working on public health messages, we hope it becomes viral. I have come to identify the power in transferring a message to the (truly world wide) Web. The Internet is truly the new frontier of the 21st century: it is where audiences are waiting to be captured, it is where public health finds its new bulletin, it is where, above all, people turn to learn how to better their lives. It is for this reason that the communications team at The L.A. Trust has specifically targeted mass social media platforms (i.e. Snapchat) as its means of communicating with Los Angeles youth. How else but through the digital vehicles by which students primarily receive social information can we inform and educate them? I am excited to see how far the reach of our social media projects becomes, and better yet, how the power of those messages spreads from mind to mind, screen to screen, life to life.

Juan Gonzalez will be entering his third year at Columbia University. To learn more about Juan, click here!


Student Health = Student Success