Top 10 Internet Fads
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Melissa Kusiolek
They're the infectious online trends we couldn't get enough of. Join http://www.WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Internet fads. Since the rise of the internet in the 1990s, these fads have been a way to both connect with others around the world and spread information about current events and trends in our respective social circles. Whether it's a hilarious pop culture phenomenon, a purely entertaining video, or an informational campaign, these were the contagious online movements that always prompted you to click the share button.
Special thanks to our users Jacob Clark, ViolaCello, Vanessa Hagerty, WatchDogsFan47 and Ackalata for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comSuggest
Script written by Melissa Kusiolek
Top 10 Internet Fads
They’re the infectious online trends we couldn’t get enough of. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Internet fads.
Since the rise of the internet in the 1990s, these fads have been a way to both connect with others around the world and spread information about current events and trends in our respective social circles. Whether it’s a hilarious pop culture phenomenon, a purely entertaining video, or an informational campaign, these were the contagious online movements that always prompted you to click the share button.
Created by a 17-year-old Russian high school student in 2009, this Skype-style online video chat site randomly pairs individuals with other participants to give them the opportunity to meet other online users from around the world in cyberspace. Growing from 500 users per day to 50,000 in the span of a month, Chatroulette did encounter some controversy due to the prevalence of sexual content displayed by many of the video chatters – go figure. But, love it or hate it, this inventive way of creating a larger circle helped people meet new friends from the comfort of their own home.
#9: Chain Letters
Original snail-mail versions of this popular trend popped up at least as early as the 1930s, but with the invention of the internet, things escalated to a whole new level. Beginning back in the earliest days of the World Wide Web with such examples as the Bill Gates Email BetaTest, these online letters often left us scared to open our email inboxes. Frequently beginning with an urban legend-style story followed or curse of bad luck if you didn’t send them along to everyone in your address book, these online messages played on superstition, hoaxes, get-rich-quick schemes and emotional manipulation, for the sole purpose of getting them to spread as quickly as possible.
Started originally as the aptly named “lying down game” at some point in the ‘90s, this unusual and relatively banal social media fad consists of participants lying face down with their hands at their sides resembling a 2x4. The trick is to snap a pic of yourself planking in a strange or humorous location and then share it online. Beginning as a real online trend in 2009, some of the photos left us both puzzled and entertained at the phenomenon, but there’s no denying we all wanted to hop on the bandwagon and look for creative new places to plank our way into internet infamy.
#7: Harlem Shake
These viral comedy videos took the world by storm in 2013, with thousands of new versions of the meme uploaded to YouTube daily at the height of its popularity. Set to the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, the videos see characters engaging in boring everyday activities – until the bass drops. Then it cuts to a wild dance party featuring wacky characters, crazy dancing and general silliness. With many varieties of videos available to view, much of the appeal of this trend was not only the ridiculousness of its content and shortness of the videos, but also the sheer joy expressed by the people dancing in the video. The temptation to grab your friends and create a video of your very own was almost too great.
#6: Kony 2012
This viral campaign and its accompanying film about Ugandan guerilla group leader Joseph Kony spread like wildfire across social media sites, receiving millions of shares and views worldwide. Kony’s use of children as both sex slaves and soldiers in his army inspired filmmakers to create a documentary about his actions, as well as an online campaign calling for the arrest of the rebel leader for his international crimes. Inciting massive amounts of media attention, this internet fad was criticized for various reasons, but it undoubtedly set the precedent for using social media as a tool for awareness of world issues.
#5: Viral Videos
Characterized by the infectious online sharing of videos through social media, this trend has been popular since the ‘90s and the early days of the internet. But the term itself was not widely used until the mid-to-late-2000s, when videos like the heavily circulated “Evolution of Dance,” “Chocolate Rain,” and “David After Dentist” became online sensations. With the launch of YouTube in 2005, both creating your own videos and sharing others became easier and more commonplace. The result of this was overnight internet celebrities, and the incentive to gather as many hits as possible. But seriously, who doesn’t love seeing a dancing baby?
#4: Gangnam Style
This 2012 Korean dance pop hit was a surprising success for K-pop artist PSY, whose humorous look and dance moves inspired parodies and imitations everywhere. Incidentally, the term Gangnam style describes an affluent Korean “swag” lifestyle, but American audiences barely cared and often mis-heard the lyrics, with such notable misinterpretations as “Condom Style” and “Gundam Style.” Resulting in thousands of response videos to the original, and even a spin-off video by PSY himself, this unlikely internet sensation remains one of the most infectious internet fads in recent history, with 2 billion YouTube views and counting.
#3: Ice Bucket Challenge
This online trend was not for the faint of heart or the cold of feet. Participants were asked to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads while being filmed as incentive to promote awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They must then nominate others in their social circles to do the same within 24 hours. Though it originally had nothing to do with ALS, the ice bucket challenge got an overwhelming response from around the world during the summer of 2014, proving to be a popular way to cool off while heightening awareness for a good cause.
Who can resist a little bait and switch? As of 2007, Rickrolling became a way to click your way to hilarity by providing a disguised link to Rick Astley’s 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up” as a response in online forums like 4chan. Even used by YouTube as an April Fools’ joke back in 2008, this was one way to show internet trollers you always had a sense of humor. Inspiring parody, flash mobs and even a live appearance by Astley himself at the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, this online fad swept the world and left us with a comical joke we’re never gonna give up.
Before we reveal our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- Cinnamon Challenge
- Hot or Not
This trend’s origins can be traced back to Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book “The Selfish Gene,” before the internet had even become widespread. But it cannot be denied that it has become an even larger phenomenon thanks to the instantaneous nature of the World Wide Web. Sure, you could categorize pretty much every entry on this list as a meme, as they all spread through culture like wildfire. From hashtags to photo puns to pop culture references like “All your base are belong to us,” memes continue to transmit ideas of contemporary cultural relevance in real time, offering us all an up-to-date social commentary of trends in cyberspace.
Do you agree with our list? Which internet trends have you participated in? For more entertainment top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.