Viral internet crazes
Your guide to online trends, from planking to the mannequin challenge
By Amber McLinden, Staff Writer
We can probably all agree the internet is a strange, strange place. We gain a lot from the internet like connecting with friends, talking to people across the world and unlimited access to knowledge. But viral internet trends are one of the most perplexing phenomenons. Why do thousands of people take videos and photos of themselves and post them online in the name of a meme? Perhaps for internet fame, or perhaps to just be included in a group. We may never know, but we can take a look back at some of the strangest things to go viral.
This is considered to be one of the earliest instances of the internet persuading people to do weird things. Gaining popularity in late 2010 after a Facebook page was created on the act, planking became a viral activity. Find the most obscure or strange place to rest in a plank position and post it online. The stunt became notorious for getting people injured while planking in dangerous places.
The Cinnamon Challenge
At it’s most popular in 2012, the Cinnamon Challenge was done by YouTube stars Miranda Sings and GloZell, and even appeared in an episode of Big Brother UK. The premise is to film yourself consuming a spoonful of cinnamon and swallow it in 60 seconds without drinking anything. The cinnamon coats your mouth and throat, making it dry, and causing most people to spit it out and generally make a mess of themselves.
In early 2013, the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer was used in numerous viral videos. They usually feature one person dancing to the music while those around them remain oblivious, and then when the bass drops, the scene changes revealing a crowd convulsing and flailing in strange costumes. The trend influenced Baauer’s song to top charts that year, and various groups participated, like many sports teams and even Norway’s army created a video.
The Cup Song
Anna Kendrick, what have you done? This viral trend originated in the 2012 film Pitch Perfect and reached peak popularity in 2013. Much like Kendrick’s character in the movie, the trend was to film yourself singing the Carter Family song “When I’m Gone” while playing a version of percussion with a cup. It became so popular that you can now learn how to play the cup percussion on WikiHow.
Silento’s song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” was released in 2015, and the music video that followed sparked the trend. The hip-hop dance, combining two moves (the Whip and the Nae Nae) was recorded by thousands and posted on social media including Youtube, Vine, Instagram, and Facebook. The trend, producing excellent dances and some not-so impressive versions, has shot Silento’s music video to 1.23 billion views on Youtube.
It seems the internet has a way of helping tunes rise on the charts. Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” peaked on Billboard’s top 100 at number one when this trend went viral. The song plays in the background of #TheMannequinChallenge, a trend not dissimilar to the Harlem Shake. The idea is that everybody being recorded in the video stands completely still, like mannequins. Participants of their own challenges include Taylor Swift, Adele, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and many more.
What weird and unpredictable trend will take over the internet next? Only time will tell.