Instagram's "Until Tomorrow" Craze Follows the Model of Infectious Diseases

The #untiltomorrow challenge on Instagram actually has a lot in common with the spreading COVID-19 pandemic

Nearly half the population of the US and about a third of people around the world are now under some form of quarantine as part of the effort to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With instructions to remain at home and maintain physical distance between themselves and others—outside of completing essential tasks—people have been driven more and more to the warm embrace of the Internet. With a pandemic spreading outside, digital forms of socializing that avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19 are more essential than ever. But in the case of Instagram, the newest meme challenge to take over the platform shares some things in common with the coronavirus—it's been going viral in more ways than one.

Compared to other viral trends that people simply join for fun, or because a friend called them out to participate, Instagram posts with the hashtag #untiltomorrow work more like an infectious disease. An embarrassing image posted under the hashtag is the most obvious symptom, and it carries with it the contagion. If you interact with one of these posts in the 24 hour period during which they remain active, you will be exposed to the infection, and it won't be long before you're likely to start infecting others.

It works like this: One of your friends will post a goofy, unflattering, or just generally embarrassing photo, tagging one person and including the hashtag #untiltomorrow. After 24 hours they will delete that post, but if you are foolish enough to like the image before that time is up, you will receive a message from your friend explaining that it's your turn. You will be conscripted to post an embarrassing image of yourself with the infectious hashtag and to tag the person who infected you.

So far the #untiltomorrow has been spreading quickly, with over 550,000 active posts as of Thursday morning—compared to 350,000 on Wednesday night. While many people will have a natural immunity to this new contagion (otherwise known as indifference), for the rest of us our only hope is to spread clear and correct information about the danger and to avoid contact with the infected. Maybe stay off of Instagram for a while. There are lots of other ways to spend your time: Go outside, go see a movie, do something with your friends, or...oh wait.

If #untiltomorrow continues to follow the patterns of an infectious disease, it's going to get even more popular in coming days. Of course there are a number of important distinctions between the challenge and an actual infectious disease. For a start, its incubation period is much shorter than COVID-19, and the signs of infection should be immediately recognizable to anyone who has been informed—not to mention it's not going to kill anyone. Still, it will be interesting to see if the hashtag takes over all of Instagram, or if the spread of information will begin to "flatten the curve," causing the challenge to slowly disappear.

While the stakes are nonexistent next to the millions of lives at risk from the coronavirus, the trajectory of the #untiltomorrow challenge should be a reminder to everyone of how quickly infections can spread and to be careful not to contribute to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ed Sheeran helps Bruno Mars celebrate his 33rd birthday

The playful duo appeared on Twitter.

Bruno Mars just turned 33 yesterday — and how did he celebrate his big three three? By hiring Ed Sheeran to serenade him, of course.

The 'Uptown Funk' singer ate cake backstage at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on his '24K Magic Tour' while Sheeran sang 'Happy Birthday.' The hilarious video made its way to Mars' Twitter and fans went wild for the onscreen bromance.

The lyrics seem pretty standard, but then Sheeran addressed Mars as 'Dear Two Time Super Bowl performing Bruno' instead of the usual boring name plug. Mars obviously approves as he cuts into his birthday cake, marked with his name and surrounded by smaller cupcakes. Mars then tells Sheeran 'Again!' and the 'Shape of You' singer reluctantly complies.

The Twitter video is playfully captioned 'You know you've made it when you can hire Ed Sheeran to sing you Happy Birthday!' and I have to agree. I mean, I've never been serenaded by anyone remotely as famous as Ed Sheeran!

This isn't the first we've seen of this bromance either — Sheeran once told ET in an interview that he and Mars 'hang out' in the studio. Sheeran also expressed his respect and admiration for 'Finesse' and its music video saying that it wouldn't have been as cool if he were in it.

And of course, you can't post a video like this without the usual Bruno Mars stans replying on Twitter. Following the funky singer, they've dubbed Oct. 8 as #HappyBrunoMarsDay, filling the hashtag full of memes and congratulations.

Even some celebrities came to Twitter to wish Mars a Happy Birthday, such as Missy Elliott and Ellen DeGeneres.

Bruno Mars is having an amazing year right now — he recently released 'Wake Up in the Sky' with Kodak Black and Gucci Mane and announced the Finale of his 24K Magic Tour. Mars also has five of the Top 600 Biggest Songs of All Time on the Billboard Hot 100 and received an EMMY nomination for Outstanding Music Direction. Mars won the BET Award for Best Male R&B/Pop Artist for 2018 and was nominated for 15 Billboard music awards.

Amber Wang is a freelancer for Popdust, Gearbrain and various other sites. She is also a student at NYU, a photographer and a marketing intern.

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TRENDING MEME | Why Did Jessica Leave Me?

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Can a meme die before it ever goes truly viral? Popdust's Chief Meme Officer does a deep dive on 'Why did jessica leave me'

Why did jessica leave me [sic] is a Facebook meme page that has amassed roughly seventy thousand followers in the past five days. In spite of the page's seemingly skyrocketing popularity, meme-ers are mourning an early death for Why did jessica leave me memes.

What is 'Why did jessica leave me' and where did it come from?

The Facebook 'community' WDJLM popped up sometime during the morning of Saturday 21 April 2018. Lampooning your recently-dumped, oversharing Social Media Acquaintance, WDJLM burst out of the gate with a fact-disclosure jab/cross combo.

I'm pretty sure this is an actual quote from my actual Myspace circa 2007.

With its silly stock image of a crying man, Why did jessica leave me became an instant classic on Mark Zuckerberg's personal data mining system. The page admin himself is a character named Jimmy (@comebackjess), who used to date the Jessica in question.

But who is Jessica?

Apart from the insight that she is Jimmy's ex-love, Jessica herself is nowhere to be found. Jimmy has kindly asked people to stop making 'fake jessica pages' as it hurts his feelings.

In addition to the fake Jessica pages, other spin-off meme pages have started popping up on Facebook; irreverent pages with grammatically incorrect titles like 'Im Jessicas dad' and grammatically correct ones like 'Jessica's Dog' have amassed thousands of followers on their own just by joining in on the joke (whatever it is). Even 'Jimmy's Mom' seems to be in on the fun.

Are the Jessica jokes the work of one twisted mind, or a handful? After Why did jessica leave me started the meme, it's hard to tell which page came next. Is Jimmy the admin's real name, or is this the work of another Facebook comedian? The page has been quick to gain traction – 14k Facebook followers a day is no small feat.

So why are meme-ers questioning the longevity of 'Why did jessica leave me'?

The page has gotten some serious exposure from some of Facebook's heaviest hitting meme pages, but some commenters are questioning the shelf life of the meme. Searches of and Reddit returned zero information on the meme, which is generally indicative of a meme still in its infancy stage.

The easiest way to tell if a meme will be viral is to compare it to a recent popular meme. Using Google Trends revealed that WDJLM is still trending up, with interest rising steadily over the weekend and peaking late Tuesday night. At the rate the page is gaining subscribers, Why did jessica leave me and its spin-offs are set to see a rise in interest over the weekend to come and into the next week.

Interest over time, 'Why did jessica leave me,' 18-25 April 2018Google Trends

Holding the meme up to the microscope

Comparison of Interest over time, 'Why did jessica leave me' vs 'tired spongebob,' 18-25 April 2018Google Trends

Using one of April's biggest meme trends ('Tired Spongebob') as a barometer for comparison, it's clear that Jessica memes are still on the rise. At the height of its popularity (so far), WDJLM was actually the more-searched term on Google – and with the meme only trending up every day, there's no drop in the appeal of Jessica memes in sight.

Stay tuned to Popdust for more meme coverage and follow the Chief Meme Officer on Twitter for extended meme content!

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“The Disaster Artist” is James Franco’s newest lovechild with himself

A movie about another disastrous movie — what could go wrong?

Getty Images

"The Room" has arguably been labeled as the worst movie ever made — but in the age of irony and millennial humor, it's been transformed into a comedic yet dark biopic directed by none other than James Franco.

Known for "Freaks and Geeks," "Pineapple Express," "Spring Breakers" and more, Franco has dabbled in most film and television genres. Now, he's cast his little brother alongside his favorite colleague — and presumably best friend — Seth Rogan.

Even though recent trailers seem to focus on both Greg Sistero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) equally, the movie's actual protagonist is Sistero — who wrote the memoir "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside 'The Room,' the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made."

From their initial meeting in an acting class, Wiseau takes Sistero to Hollywood from San Francisco and starts writing the script for his infamous film. With a strangely endless source of funding, Wiseau then begins on this new venture with his new best friend — that seemingly hints at weird romantic undertones.

This film seems like it was basically made for the top spot on Franco's portfolio — it's easily one of his strongest and strangest roles yet which will demonstrate to his fans how dynamic his talents can be.

Actors Nathan Fielder, Paul Scheer, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, director/actor James Franco, actors Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Ari Graynor and Josh Hutcherson attend AFI FEST 2017 Presented By Audi - Screening Of 'The Disaster Artist' at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 12, 2017 in Hollywood, CaliforniaGetty Images

However, it will be a challenge since some of the actors among him will include Zac Efron, Alison Brie and Bryan Cranston. The cast is mostly made out of comedic actors so we can be sure to expect a few laughs too.

I am hesitant about laughing and joking about a character that has been labeled as loopy and strange in the past. However, the film does currently have a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes along with a 3.5 out of four stars for Rolling Stone.

And although it's not mandatory for you to watch "The Room" or read Sistero's first hand account, it certainly would help. Some even say the genre of the entire movie even relies on your previous knowledge of Wiseau. I know I'd probably be lost without some kind of a guide.

However strange the film seems now, more will be understood in a week. You'll probably just have to watch "The Disaster Artist" yourself on Dec. 1 and decide on your own how to feel about it.

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