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Internetz fame? I haz it.

November 22, 2009

Trailerpilot posted this NY Times article to his blog this weekend and I’m so glad he did…it’s incredibly interesting to me. The article is about a fairly new dance craze that is spreading via the internet to teens all over the country-jerking. It’s not the dance style that interested me. Instead, what peaked my interest in this case can be summed up in this quote from the article:

They began dancing and posted videos on YouTube, and according the mysterious Web laws that can send a laughing baby video global, these unknowns quickly attracted thousands of viewers.

At this point in fact, the videos from the high school students from LA which this quote refers to have received millions of views….and consequently an article in the NY Times, sponsorship from clothing/footwear brands, and a documentary for MTV in the works.

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of watching some link we got in a forward (or saw in a tweet or on someone’s tumblr) and we OMGLOL at it (because that’s it’s purpose) and then we scroll down and see it’s had millions of views and countless comments….and we think “WTF?  Why?”

It seems to me that while there are unimaginable numbers of people using the internet to post, share, and spread information, there are only a few users who really have the power to make something become viral.  What is interesting to me in regards to this (and these kids who are now responsible for this next big dance movement) is that these gods of the internet are now the ones curating our cultural lives*.  They are the ones deciding that jerking is the next big thing and three wolf moon shirts are the new standard of irony based ROFL-ing and cats doing much of anything are the funnest thing ever.

Truthfully, I can’t decide how I feel about this.  Part of me loves the way we all watch the same ridiculous pixelated crap…it bonds us.  The other part of me wishes maybe we were all watching the same creative, groundbreaking or thoughtful stuff that’s out there.

But since I’m not one of those internet gods, it actually doesn’t really matter what I want us to watch.  So instead, I watch this.

*Note that I am officially waiting to see how long it will take before work at the MCA starts reflecting this cultural phenomenon.

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