What’s the Internet Making Us Do?

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about the ways in which the Internet has impacted our behavior and perceptions of quality humor and “coolness.” It made me think about all of the strange trends that have originated because of social media. Some of these trends are so bizarre and even dangerous that it’s hard to imagine people coming up with them, let alone participating in them, without the social pressures of Internet culture. Because people are incentivized to appear hip and funny to their peers, they’re willing to throw all common sense out the window to do ridiculous things that people pre-Digital Era would have never even considered. Here are some of the best examples of these obscure Internet trends throughout the years. 

Image Credit: PR Week

1. Planking When you think of planking, you may first recall the popular exercise, but planking was also a popular Internet phenomenon. For this meme, people laid facedown on whatever random surface they could find. Anything from stairs to trees to busy streets were fair game, and thousands of people participated all around the world. 

Image Credit: Sonja Niederhofer

Here’s a picture of my friend Gabrielle laying on a car as proof that, yes, people were actually willing to press their face against dirty objects to seem cool. (Roasted, but shoutout to Gabe.)

2. Hot Dogs or Legs? For those who don’t remember, “hot dogs or legs?” was a trend where people posted pictures of their bare legs, usually in some outdoor landscape, and mocked the fact that they looked uncannily similar to hot dogs. Some people took this meme so far as to put ketchup on them, or even added props to hot dogs to demonstrate their dedication and creativity. 

Image Credit: The Cut

Before social media, I’m not sure why any person would’ve chosen to cover their legs with condiments or create a comparison between their body parts and food, but according to the Internet, it’s hilarious and makes a lot of sense. 

3. Tide Pod Challenge  One of my all-time favorites is the trend that convinced people eating tide pods was a good idea. This has to be one of the most bizarre (and dangerous) Internet memes. It started on platforms like Twitter with people talking about how delicious Tide Pods must be based on their fresh smell and resemblance to gummy candy. Naturally, you’d think people would recognize these comments as obvious jokes given the fact that Tide Pods are literally laundry detergent. But no.

Image Credit: The Hill 

For some reason, people decided to turn this into an Internet challenge where they’d post videos of themselves eating pods. The challenge quickly turned into a scandal, with participants starting to have health problems from the effects of ingesting soap – shocker. YouTube actually had to remove all Tide Pod-consuming content in order to prevent further safety issues. Although the fact that eating laundry detergent could bring health problems seems fairly intuitive to me, people’s desire to be a part of the trend clearly interfered with that common sense.

4. Harlem Shake Although the Harlem Shake hardly needs any introduction, for those who stored this weird dance phenomenon far back in the depths of their brain, allow me to refresh your memory. Dancing to the catchy techno song, “Harlem Shake,” became a popular Internet trend around 2013. For the beginning of the song, a group of people would hold a certain pose with only one person dancing. Then, when the beat dropped, the group would grow in size and everyone would choose one strange dance move, creating a mass of chaotic movements.  Image Credit: Youtube

Some of the more creative videos featured participants in crazy outfits and at bizarre locations. This trend became so wide-scale that its participants extended beyond just the typical meme demographic of teenagers, ranging to business people and even full sports teams. To think that grown-up professionals would get together, dress in funny costumes and videotape themselves dancing to a techno song can only be a result of the Internet.

5. Cinnamon Challenge Now, for another meme that led people to dangerously ingest something for the sake of clout – the cinnamon challenge. Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. This trend had participants eating a spoonful of cinnamon, with the punch line being that they’d have a cough-attack and nearly suffocate. The dry powder would coat their entire mouth and tongue, making it basically impossible to breathe. 

Image Credit: Youtube

I regret to admit that I tried this one, but it was my first and last involvement in an Internet challenge. After experiencing pure terror in the form of cinnamon, I decided to leave my meme-ing days behind me. 

6. Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge And, of course, I couldn’t write an article mocking popular meme culture without including Kylie Jenner. For the Lip Challenge, people put a water bottle over their lips to create suction, causing their lips to swell up and resemble the infamous Kylie’s. 

Image Credit: Twitter

Some people’s faces bruised and blistered for days after doing this challenge, which isn’t surprising considering what it called for.

The consistent theme throughout all these trends is that people are willing to humiliate themselves and even harm themselves in order to be seen and perceived as hip and funny. What did people do to prove their worth before the Internet? I’m not sure, but I can almost guarantee that they didn’t put mustard on their legs, eat laundry detergent or choke on cinnamon to earn respect from their peers. What’s the Internet doing to us?


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