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Viral Trends


June 30, 2017




It’s a mad world we live in. A mad, mad world.

Imagine trying to explain to someone from 100 years ago a world in which we’d all be walking around with tiny robot devices in our pockets, communicating with our friends via finger swipes and getting into fights with total strangers who don’t even live in the same hemisphere as us.

A world in which phrases like ‘#sorrynotsorry’, ‘#HarlemShake’ and ‘#IceBucketChallenge’ actually mean something – or, come to that, a world in which the obscure # symbol is used to gather information, and the @ is used to identify fellow humans.

And most of all: a world in which all of this is completely normal.

Well, today is World Social Media Day – a chance to take a step back from our day-to-day obsessions, and look at the profound impact it’s having on the way we interact with one another, and how we consume information.

Thinking about it here in the eightytwenty offices this week, it seemed there was nothing more shocking than the sheer speed we go through fads and phases – and the ruthless, relentless way in which today’s stars can be hot on a Monday and pathetically passé by Friday.

So, in the interest of some high-brow research* – and some good old-fashioned nostalgia – here’s a look back at some of the big hits of internet past. And, of course, the sad but inevitable way in which they all declined.


The Harlem Shake

The dance kicked off in February 2013 and was all but a historical footnote less than two months after its peak popularity. It involved a bunch of seemingly normal people with one lone dancer, but once the bass drops, chaos ensues – and the crazier the costume and dancing, the better.

Check out one of the most popular videos of this viral trend by the Norwegian Army.


Ice Bucket Challenge

Ahh, the Ice Bucket Challenge. A viral video used for good!

From Bill Gates to the then-innocuous Trump EVERYBODY was taking part in this. The videos uploaded were to help raise awareness and funds to find a cure for ALS, which is a neurodegenerative disease. Due to the funding, researchers have discovered a new gene associated with the disease which could lead to new treatment possibilities!

At the peak of its engagement, it seemed like it would be around forever. But the cruel world of social media soon had it chewed up and spat out on to yesterday’s trash pile.


Break the Internet

Kim Kardashian West sure knows how to cause a little commotion on the internet (flashbacks to the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty ordeal). But back in 2014, Kim and Paper magazine took this to a whole new level of consciousness – using the power to, quite figuratively, break the internet.

The breakage was, naturally, shortlived. And while the phrase itself lives on, and is used to describe pretty much any seismic online event, the hubbub itself vanished quickly.



Of course, not all trends were so closely pinned to a particular moment in time. The ones we were REALLY interested in were the ones that entered our lexicon; were they more impervious to the internet’s decaying effects?

Well… no.

That Awkward Moment When

That Awkward Moment when you realise everything everywhere, all the time is incredibly awkward and you had no idea.

2012 was the year of the awkwardness and the internet loved it. It’s a phase that has still stayed in our vocabulary to this day – although we don’t use it as much as we used to, as the graph below shows.

Has it just become unfashionable or have a we all become less awkward in recent times?


Sorry Not Sorry

The phase for when someone is apologising for not apologising as they feel they don’t need to. From serious to sassy situations, perhaps with this emoji thrown in for good measure, 💁 ,this one suffered from the standard symptoms of overuse –


Said No One Ever

According to this trend, a lot of things have never been said.

These never heard sentences include but are not limited to, “Those socks look great with your sandals”, “Let’s Yahoo that,” and “Wow I love Mondays!”. The phrase gained momentum in the second half of 2012 but has been declining since around May 2013. With that being said, the phrase is still very active on Twitter with about 25,000 mentions of it every month!



What can we learn from these viral trends?

With social media anything can be tomorrow’s viral trend. We’re brutal. It can take days or even hours to capture the hearts and imaginations of people online but we can drop trends that quickly too. We’re so hungry for more or the next big thing that we often forget how much of an impact a viral video, meme or phrase had on our lives for that fleeting moment.



*All data presented was based on Twitter using the social listening tool, Crimson Hexagon.

June 30, 2017

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