We all know how addictive they can be to watch and read, and sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of work to turn a simple video into harmless but hilarious genius. Sometimes these internet phenomena can take a turn for the worse, and sometimes they can do incredible things to help charities, but one thing they almost always do is divide audiences. Should we stop encouraging these viral sensations, or is it just one of the new ways in which the internet allows us to make the world a better place?
You’ve all seen them. Innocent videos of news features turned into beautiful masterpieces of musicianship (cue double rainbows and cat-loving). Buzzfeed lists full of cat “breading” and “bearding” (one of my favourite things) and pugs in costumes (also a favourite). The web, a place where – within reason – anyone can post anything without fear of judgement, has brought on sensation after sensation, allowing an individual with a novel idea to become famous overnight, and to spread ideas more quickly than ever. Things like the Harlem Shake and Kids React provide entertainment for millions and allow just about anyone to get involved in something that unites people across the globe.
However, something new to the net has divided us, with varying degrees of success; viral chains. You’ll be familiar with some of these, and will undoubtedly have heard of one of the most famous, known as Necknominates. Reportedly around as early as 2011, this craze involved a person, having received a nomination from a friend, filming themselves making a “dirty pint” mixture of different alcohols which they then had to down, followed by nominating several of their friends to do the same thing. In later 2013 however, these nominations spun out of control, as people tried to be more and more daring with their ideas. Some just added innocent things like ketchup and vinegar, but others chose to film theirs in a water slide, or include *shudder* actual human faeces. This has led to the recent news that two men have been charged with animal cruelty after one of them added and consumed four goldfish in their Necknominate. Of course, the most serious and tragic results of this viral craze were the five deaths confirmed to have been linked to the individuals’ Necknominates, which eventually led to the fad losing its novelty and momentum, and to many questioning the power of the internet.
However, some did see the Necknominate sensation as an opportunity to do something good; having been nominated, some chose to donate money to charity as their video, and then nominated others to do the same. As well as later producing the somewhat limited craze of NickNominates (post your favourite Nicholas Cage picture, nominate your friends, harmless but shortlived), this then led to another phenomenon which, although focused mainly on raising money for charity, also received criticism as well as support. The No-Makeup Selfie nominations involved taking a picture of yourself without any makeup on, posting it on Facebook and donating to Cancer Research charities, and then again nominating others to do the same. Some criticised that the craze became somewhat self-indulgent, due to the photos receiving comments complimenting people for how they looked without makeup on and forgetting about the important movement behind the photo. However, these people also had to accept that this phenomenon raised over £8 million for charity, and had everyone talking about it, which led to the question – was something almost as self-promoting as but obviously less dangerous than the Necknominates a positive, or something to be discouraged?
Most seemed to believe though that these movements, when used to target promoting and donating to charities, could be used to make a huge difference. That’s when the celebrities got in on the act.
Most seemed to believe though that these movements, when used to target promoting and donating to charities, could be used to make a huge difference. That’s when the celebrities got in on the act. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you may not have seen the most recent phenomenon to sweep the internet, which some may seem as losing the point of the exercise, but to me is just another reason huge numbers of people will share the videos and spread the word.
It’s known as the Ice Bucket Challenge, and not only does it raise huge amounts for the ALS Association (these celebrities are donating a lot of money), but you also get to see lots of your favourite celebrities in very wet t shirts; some may see this as losing the point of the challenge, but in the end, isn’t the whole point to make as many people aware of the charity as possible?
If you haven’t already, please watch the video – it’s for a good cause, and your favourite celebrity might be in there! (I know mine is *ahem*); as you can see, something which in structure is incredibly similar to the Necknominates is being used to raise great sums for the charity, and is soaring in popularity among our favourite stars, and the calibre of people getting involved is getting higher and higher. Not only have huge slebs like Jennifer Lopez and Justin Timberlake got involved, but actual Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have joined the masses, as well as George Bush himself – and in case you weren’t sure, they have, like, a lot of money. So it’s clear that this fad is only getting bigger and is doing so much good that it cannot be deemed a bad thing – it has even been announced that the craze has raised $8.6 million in one day. In my opinion its not a bad thing that people watch these videos just because they fancy David Beckham and want to see him without a shirt on – if it makes them aware of ALSA – I know I hadn’t heard of it before all this – then it’s achieving exactly the result the charity could hope for. It’s just a shame it had to come from something so negative.
Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch explaining why you should donate if you can (incidentally it’s one of the best videos yet – and not just because I have a small obsession with him):