If the ‘Harlem Shake’ has taught us anything in the past week or so, it’s that social media’s awesome power is the very thing that will lead to the destruction of whatever it touches. Well, not necessarily everything; just the stuff that’s ‘good enough’ to somehow go viral and/or gain obscene popularity.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Radio stations are huge culprits of overplaying material to the point where people would rather hear a cover of the latest ‘hit song’ recorded by a crew of powertool-wielding Russians instead of the original. Now we can see a heavy bleed-through of this same faux-pas in social media that seems to be getting worse with each passing day, and we’re running out of time.
Radio stations hype up songs because they’re generally paid to do so in some way, shape, or form. However the public is pretty aware of this, so most people tend to take the radio with a grain of salt. But now, not only are materials being shared at an expansive rate thanks to the phenomenon of ‘virality’, but they’re being shared in a very biased way due to the nature of social media engines. You either ‘Like’ something, or dislike it enough to share it out of spite without holding back on profound intellectual critiques…or misinformed snap-judgements…whichever you prefer. Most people’s primary contact with viral material is already sprinkled and seasoned with feelings of distaste or praise depending on who shared it. This, in combination with rampant oversharing, overplaying, and plain ol’ overdoin’ it, has made the lifelines of viral content quite short. For instance, a few days ago we were all in stitches watching the following video…but not anymore; and it’s only been a week!
After a while, no matter how badly you wanted to a commemorative tattoo or theme wedding about Gangam Style, KONY2012, the recent-yet-late ‘Harlem Shake’ catastrophe that struck the internet like a bad disease, or any other viral phenomenon, you will get sick of it. And now, thanks to social media, you’ll get to experience the range of emotions from ‘uuuh. wow. tell everyone!’ all the way through to ‘don’tgonearmewiththatshitanymore’ in a matter of days; even hours. Joy.
Along with the oversharing comes the unfortunate pre-conceived notions about the content all because a guy you used to work with or some weird younger sibling of a friend of yours got all hot and bothered and shared it, which is unfair to the viewer because of their now-tainted view, and robs the creator of any chance that the public will formulate their own opinions about the content. Everybody’s a journalist nowadays, stripping most people of having a fair shot at formulating an opinion about what they’re seeing.
It’s got to the point where people do weird things such as handing out obscene amount of ‘Likes’ to things to actually they don’t like at all, or start making the next goal in their life to fundraise money to take down a foreign warlord. One day you think you’re giving some money towards a good cause to take down some demonic foreign tyrant and his army of gun slinging children. Then before you know it, the guy you gave your money to is masturbating in an intersection, and the warlord’s been off the grid for years.
Sadly, lots of good content never sees the light of day due to their lack of ‘grabber’. If the public’s reaction to something isn’t good, the material is essentially stillborn. However, no-matter how good, viral content can’t expect to stick around at the abusive share-rate we’ve got going on. Just because social media’s reach is relatively limitless (yes, it’s limited to the user base, but those are huge, so we’re sticking with ‘limitless’) doesn’t mean you can’t get too much of a good thing. In fact, now, the less of a good thing you can get the better, out of fear for the viral rise and fall effect. Did we mention that the ‘Harlem Shake’ is a 10 month-old song which had never seen the light of day aside from some small circles, that magically skyrocketed to the top of the iTunes charts last week in direct correlation with the viral video trend?
Sure, after seeing an ‘incredible’ viral video so many times you may have a sour taste in your mouth, but that doesn’t mean it’s ‘the worst’, right?! No. Not yet. It goes deeper.
The worst isn’t the corporate or financial motives behind the videos, nor the public’s growing awareness of this. The worst is when spin-offs occur. The feeble attempts at viral bandwagoning done by anyone with a video camera and a half-ass costume that want in on some of the action. This is how you end up with catastrophes:
NO. STOP IT! #youredoingitwrong
You’re ruining it for everyone. Please, we’re begging you, just stop. It’s embarassing, not even close, and just plain wrong.
Many can relate to the annoyance felt when everybody around you all-of-a-sudden becomes the biggest fan of a band you’ve been into for a while (and possibly made fun of for being their fan?) after the release of a sub-par, overplayed hit song. Now you’re the mecca for all things – insert mildly creative band name here – and fall victim of being asked to every show of theirs within a daylight’s-drive radius, making you want to burn all their records and use their tour shirts as toilet paper.
This is how we feel about internet virality. Bottom line, there’s nothing more irritating than something you enjoyed being played out. Let’s leave the good videos alone to take their place in internet and social halls of fame and let that be the end of it.
The video below summarizes how we feel quite perfectly. Leave virality be. Give it a rest and spare us from watching social media chew it’s arm off.