Top 7 Viral Sensations of 2009... So Far

For weeks, the $165 million paid out in bonuses by insurance giant AIG held center stage. Government officials and the public were furious that the flailing company released the money just after receiving more than $170 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat.

But that story too spiked and then sank.

"We obviously have had and continue to have a giant economic crisis in this country. And a lot of people made a lot of bad decisions out of greed and out of stupidity," Wasik said. "But again it seems that people, not just the media, but the amateur media insist on seeing those big stories through a lens of tiny little controversies that just don't bear up under the weight of the significance that people try to lay on them."

The Dominos Pizza Videos

And, Wasik said, never underestimate the power of the gross-out factor.

In May, videos of Dominos pizza employees violating a raft of public health laws gathered such momentum online that it ultimately drew an apology from the company.

Millions of people viewed the video, damaging the 50-year-old brand virtually overnight.

But, Wasik said, "Personally, I feel like it's been totally forgotten at this point.

"The good news and the bad news about these viral sensations is that they are very short-lived and people obsess about them for a brief period of time. And then it's on to something else."

Susan Boyle

There was a time we couldn't get enough of her. But it didn't take long for her story to run its course.

For weeks, Susan Boyle, the 48-year-old contestant on the U.K. reality TV show "Britain's Got Talent," was the hottest story in town. But even before the final days of the show, the media and general public lost interest.

"What I find interesting about Susan Boyle is that really her kind of spike ended before she lost the competition," Wasik said. Although she was on the TV news in the U.K., her fame in the U.S. was driven mostly by the Internet.

"There were a few weeks when everyone was going crazy," he said, but added that soon after "you could feel the oxygen being sucked out of her time on the media stage."

25 Random Things About Me

This Internet fad polarized Facebook users, who either loved or loathed the "25 Things About Me" forward.

In February, PC World magazine estimated that 5 million of the chain-letter-like forwards populated Facebook pages in just one week.

The fad involved sharing 25 random things about yourself and then forwarding it on to 25 other Facebook users.

It grew to such near-spam proportions, that one Facebook user spoofed it with a "25 Things I Hate About Facebook" video. Facebook later contacted the user, Julian Smith, and worked with him on other videos.

"This is one that had a long spike," said Wasik. Even after the original burned out, Facebook picked up on a fad that was going on inside its own site, he said. "That wound up being a boon for them."

Auto-Tune the News

One of the viral sensations just starting to spike, Wasik said, "Auto-Tune the News" is a series of Web videos that mix pop songs with TV news footage.

Brothers Michael, Andrew and Evan Gregory, and sister-in-law Sarah, use Auto-Tune, software that tweaks singers' voices to perfect pitch (think Cher in her chart-topper "Believe"), and cut themselves into the broadcast clips singing pop favorites.

"To me, Auto-Tune the news is the Internet," said Wasik.

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