The internet can be a strange place. While it can be wonderful for information sharing and socialising, it can also result in some very…unusual things, least to say. For example, no one can really determine the reason why something goes viral on the internet, but everyone can recognize viral material once they see it. While we may not know why these 10 phenomenons went to become as popular as they were, we know that they are massive enough to make this list.
From memes, over animated videos, all the way to challenges, here are some of internet’s most viral content. Without further delay, here are top 10 internet phenomenons that went viral.
10) Happy Tree Friends
Happy Tree Friends is a simple cartoon created by Mondo Media. Each episode starts as a very cute cartoon, with colorful animations, happy music and whatnot. But then, the whole things turns into a graphic violence extravaganza. Blood, guts and death are very common motives in this cartoon series, so don’t be surprised while watching it, because the authors really do get creative. Happy Tree Friends has quickly gained a cult following that made it spike up in popularity. Each episode has been played millions of times and spiked many additional content regarding it. Today, it isn’t as popular as it used to be, but it’s a great example of an early internet viral content.
9) Nyan Cat
Mix together an animated cat flying through space and a Japanese pop song. What do you get? The 5th most viewed YouTube video of 2011, of course! How or why Nyan Cat became so insanely popular is a question that no one has been able to answer. The origin story of this phenomenon is also something very…dull. Some guy makes the animation, another one uploads the song, and a YouTube user puts the two together, for God knows what reason. The rest is history. Currently the original video has over 130 million views, but the whole thing is much more widespread than that. Today, there are entire applications, wallpapers and games related to the Nyan Cat.
8) Flappy Bird
In 2014, a simple phone game took over everyone’s lives. Flappy Bird was all the rage back then, but no one really knows why. Sure, the game was somewhat addictive, but many others are as well, and they’ve never reached the popularity status of the little pixelated bird. During its most popular days, Flappy Bird was making around $50,000 a day for its creator, Dong Nguyen. Mr. Nguyen decided to remove the game from both iOS App Store and the Google Play, which only got more people to download and play it. Not only was Flappy Bird one of the most downloaded phone games of all time, it also created an entire genre of Flappy Bird copies, as well as other various materials on the topic.
7) The Dress
Just last year, a simple dress went very, very viral. A short celebrity tweet of the dress was enough to engage millions of people around the world and make them discuss it. The tweet contained an image of a striped dress that some people saw as white/gold and others as blue/black. The science behind the whole thing shows that the lightning of the photo is the reason why different people see different colors. Who would have thought that a simple image of a dress would be enough to reach all ends of the world, and stay there for days. Everyone, and we mean everyone, was talking about this thing back when it was popular. However, the sudden popularity surge was met with a sudden lack of interest, only after a few days.
6) McKayla Is Not Impressed
During 2012 Olympics, all it took for McKayla Maroney to go viral was a scowling expression. After the American gymnast failed to win the gold medal, she made a facial expression just as a photographer took the photo. Only a day after, her face served as a punch line for many jokes. Entire websites and blogs were set up, and content creators were making McKayla memes non-stop. As most others from this list, the whole thing died out the same way it started – fast and abruptly.
5) Ice Bucket Challenge
During mid 2014, a charity-oriented movement known as the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral. It involved dumping a bucket of cold water on oneself’s head, in order to turn attention towards ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Everyone participated, from celebrities to everyday people. And the results were great. The donations for research spiked, and the media coverage made it impossible for anyone not to be introduced to ALS. All in all, a very positive viral event that lasted for weeks and was used to help a noble cause.
Back in 2011, a music video became as popular as many of them only hope to be. Meet Rebecca Black, an amateur musician who released a simple song called “Friday”. Thanks to some bad autotune and awkward dancing moves, everyone started making fun of the video, thus amassing it millions and millions of views. By the end of it, Rebecca’s song was covered on TV, radio, major websites and newspapers. Many remixes, memes and other content was made, all inspired by the music video. The video became the most disliked YouTube at one point, overpassing Justin Bieber’s “Baby” by several hundred thousand dislikes.
Bronies are a great example of a cultural phenomenon that spread mostly thanks to the internet. In case you’re not familiar with them, bronies are fans of the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, that aren’t in the show’s target demographics. Simply put, bronies are grown males who are big fans of the show. It started slowly, but more and more people joined the brony ranks, which spiked a lot of popularity for the show and the community. As with other viral content, many remixes, parodies, songs and images were made to talk about the whole phenomenon. Unlike other entries, bronies are still active and popular, although they’re not as mainstream as they used to be.
2) Twitch Plays Pokemon
Twitch Plays Pokemon was a channel on Twitch, a video streaming website, that used crowd-sourced user inputs to play Pokemon games. Basically, it’s a lot of people competing with one another to control the character in the game. It was the very first of its kind, and as such it became very popular, having over 1 million participants. It caused a great media coverage, as well as additional content being created to prolong the whole setup.
One of the earliest examples of YouTube rising a game to insane heights in terms of popularity is Slenderman: The Eight Pages. In this survival horror game, you play as a character who walks around in a dark forest and attempts to find eight paper pages. Easy enough, right? Well, you’re not alone in the woods. There’s also the spooky Slenderman that you have to evade. The game was played by many popular YouTubers whose reactions made everyone want to watch and play the game. There are many videos related to this title that have millions of views, and the game did great in terms of reception. Nowadays, “Let’s Play” is an entire genre of videos, but back when everything was a bit more simple, there was Slenderman, a dark room, maxed out headphones, and you were sure to get some views.
Have you participated in any of these? Can you see a new phenomenon slowly becoming popular as we speak? Let us know if you have any thoughts about the subject of viral phenomenons in the comment section below.