Let’s venture back in time…a time that was much simpler. A time before Facebook ruled the world. The time is 2013. Believe it or not, social media hasn’t always been a thing, but viral video trends have always been a social media favorite.
The trend started off rocky with the Cinnamon Challenge in 2013. This soon-to-be viral phenomenon began on YouTube when people would post videos of themselves attempting to eat a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds. This challenge was particularly controversial because it posed obvious health risks, but it’s important because it laid the groundwork for future viral video challenges.
After the cinnamon challenge, people were quick to jump on the next photo challenge — planking. This gained popularity in February 2013 and was most popular on Facebook. Participants of this challenge would lay flat on a surface (like a plank) and have a friend take their picture. The catch was, the crazier of places you laid, the better.
Along with planking, a new flash dance trend also rocked the internet in February 2013. Kids and adults across the world participated in the Harlem Shake craze. This crazy flash dance was performed in large groups. It started out with just a few people dancing in a calm, civil way in normal clothes, but when the bass dropped, people would jump out from behind/under/out of things, and everyone would be in crazy costumes doing a wide variety of crazy dances. People would upload their videos to Youtube and Facebook and encourage their friends to make one as well.
Ice Bucket Challenge:
The next challenge that rocked the social media world was the Ice Bucket Challenge. This challenge began towards the end of the school year in 2014. Participants would dump buckets of ice cold water onto their heads and nominate two or three other friends to do the same. The catch was that if they did not complete the challenge in 24 hours, they had to donate money to the ALS Foundation. While the intent of this challenge initially was to raise money for ALS, the meaning was lost quickly as the videos became viral.
Running Man Challenge:
There was a lull in the viral challenge realm for a year or so, until people began a new challenge. The “running man challenge” embodied characteristics of a flash mob and included people doing the classic running man dance to Ghost Town DJs song “My Boo.” The videos usually started with one person doing the dance, and as the song went on, more and more people would join. The videos were upload to Instagram, Facebook and occasionally Snapchat.
Finally, the last major video challenge that has rocked the social world was back in the fall of 2016. The Mannequin Challenge rose to popularity when people began posting videos of their friends and family frozen in time as mannequins while Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles played in the background. People began to get very creative with the videos and one college swim team did their video in the pool, with some people frozen under water. Most of the posts were uploaded to Instagram and Twitter.
Viral video challenges have slowly picked up popularity over the years, and while they don’t typically last more than a few weeks or a month, the memories created from participating last a lifetime.