The Internet is a weird place, and the things people go nuts over on the Internet are even weirder. All it takes is a simple share of a photo, tweet or video for things to go from zero to a hundred. Thanks to social media, something or someone can become an instant sensation within a mere couple of hours. As people become more and more hooked on the Internet, the speed at which things catch on substantially increases.
Over the past few years there have been many times that the Internet went into a complete tizzy over virtually nothing. There were, of course, the charitable freak-outs — such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — but others are just plain strange. For instance, remember when Internet goers spent weeks obsessing over #AlexFromTarget — a regular Joe who just happens to have a face that enamors teenage girls. This random bout of Internet fame even landed the lucky teen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and got him interviews with huge media outlets, like The New York Times.
Other freak-outs have occurred over public celebrity feuds, where followers just can’t seem to get enough of what the celebrities are going to do or say next. And, the advent and growing popularity of the meme has provided the power to turn something that is otherwise meaningless into a viral trend.
Here is a list of the 10 times the Internet unnecessarily freaked out in the past couple of years.
10 Drake & Meek Mill Beef
In the summer of 2015, a feud sparked between rappers Drake and Meek Mill, and soon the people of the Internet were a buzz creating memes, videos and posting their general thoughts on the situation. It began when Meek Mill tweeted, “Stop comparing Drake to me too... He don't write his own raps! That’s why he ain’t tweet my album because we found out.” He continued with a bit of a Twitter rant directed at Drake, with other rappers chiming in and choosing sides. The issue irritated Drake enough that he put out a rap about it called “Charged Up,” followed almost immediately by a second rap, “Back To Back.” Meek Mill finally responded with “Wanna Know” which received very poor feedback across the Internet. Throughout the entirety of the beef between the two, social media users relentlessly shared reaction memes, both dissing and praising each of the artists. Internet goers also talked back and forth with each other regarding their opinions on who was a better artist and shared bits of the rap verses. The whole ordeal and Internet interest shockingly lasted weeks.
9 Katy Perry’s Left Shark
Perhaps the most important takeaway from the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show was that you don’t even have to show your face in order to be crowned an instant Internet sensation. During a portion of Katy Perry’s halftime performance, two men dressed in shark costumes danced beside her. But, all the glory went to the smooth moves of the “Left Shark,” as he would come to be known. Before the game was even over, there were already countless videos of the shark posted on YouTube, comments all over Twitter and Facebook and pictures of the dance-happy shark everywhere on Instagram. But, it didn’t stop there. The Internet became obsessed with Left Shark — reenacting some of his dance moves in videos and creating seemingly millions of memes. Though the Super Bowl was many months ago, it didn’t stop Left Shark from taking over Halloween this year, as well. The Left Shark costume was a hot seller, and there were even articles galore on the web on ways to make your own Left Shark costume. Seems like this one is going down in infamy, leaving some of us just shaking our heads.
8 Kim Kardashian’s Bare Butt
When Kim Kardashian posed for Paper Magazine’s Winter 2014 cover, her goal was to “break the Internet.” And, that’s just what she did. People obsessed over the photos for multiple reasons. Some couldn’t believe the size of her butt, and debated online over whether it was real or photoshopped. Others fought over whether she was worth “breaking the Internet” over. And yet others just wanted to see a nude Kim K. Ultimately, though, Kardashian was winning, as she got nearly everyone on social media talking about the photos. And, not only were people sharing the magazine’s images from Kardashian’s shoot, they were photoshopping and morphing the image into all sorts of strange yet comical memes. Kardashian has managed to garner insane amounts of media attention in the past (often over really nothing at all), but this magazine cover and spread seemed to really take it to the next level.
7 The Apparently Kid
6 Netflix and Chill
It’s been impossible the past few months to scan through Instagram or Twitter without seeing some sort of post about “Netflix and Chill.” It began with the notion that guys invite a girl over to watch Netflix with the intention of sleeping with her. In October 2014, a Twitter user @itsIsaaaaaaac first brought attention to it by posting “Netflix and chill never means Netflix and chill now a days lol.” From there, the phrase and supplementary memes and gifs spread like wildfire, with the popularity likely due to people’s perception of how true it was. There were even t-shirts made donning “Netflix and Chill.” And, similarly to Left Shark, the Netflix and Chill Internet craze ignited the flame for many Halloween costumes this year.
5 Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Debut
For a long time, celebrity news outlets reported on rumors that Bruce Jenner was undergoing steps to become a woman. For a while, though, these reports were just rumor. That was until March of 2015 when Bruce did a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer and told the world the truth — he was officially becoming a woman. So, when he introduced his new self, Caitlyn Jenner, to the world via a Vanity Fair magazine cover, everyone had something to say about it. The photo was of interest to everyone from young teens obsessed with Keeping Up With The Kardashians, to older men who followed Bruce’s career as an Olympic athlete years ago. The photo received mostly positive feedback, but the Internet did not stop reposting the image and offering commentary for quite some time.
4 Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) Video
Teenage girls’ hearts were a flutter when the #AlexFromTarget picture first hit the Internet last November. A photo of Alex Lee, a Texas teen who worked as a cashier at his local Target, had been posted to a Tumblr account by a customer who found him attractive. A teenage girl from Britain who has a decent Twitter following stumbled upon it and tweeted the picture with the caption, “YOOOOOOOOOOO.” From there #AlexFromTarget was created, it very rapidly became a trending topic on Twitter. The humble Target employee quickly went from having just 144 Twitter followers to upwards of 700,000 followers. And the Internet continued the madness by tweeting at him and his girlfriend, and sharing his photo endlessly. It was a prime example of how a teenage fandom can completely change the popularity of something, or in this case someone. And, just like “The Apparently Kid” before him, he also appeared on Ellen.
2 The Kylie Jenner Challenge
Both incredibly dumb and incredibly dangerous, the “Kylie Jenner Challenge” had teenagers all across the U.S. and beyond sucking on glasses and bottles to create pressure to plump up their lips — all with a goal of looking like Kylie Jenner. Teens went wild with it, posting videos and pictures of how their run with the challenge went. The horrible news? There were more lip injuries to count. While the challenge was not bolstered by Jenner, it didn’t stop it from spreading everywhere. Jenner ultimately had to chime in to calm the masses. She tweeted: “I'm not here to try & encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look.” She then tweeted, “I want to encourage people/young girls like me to be YOURSELF & not be afraid to experiment w your look.” But, sadly the damage was already done — both literally and figuratively.
1 The 'Is It White/Gold Or Black/Blue' Dress
Arguably one of the most confusing things the Internet as a whole has made viral was “The Dress.” The striped dress was first posted on Tumblr with the user asking their followers if they saw the dress as white and gold, or blue and black. It seemed everyone was seeing a different combination, and a full-out Internet dispute ensued.
Within a week of the image hitting the web, over 10 million tweets mentioned the dress. And, it wasn’t just Tumblr and Twitter that were confused. All social media platforms were filled with users trying to get to the bottom of the debate. And, top media outlets across America were covering it, as well. #TheDress became so huge, both because of users who were sharing the image and their take on the color scheme, and because of the abundance of others who voiced their opinion of how stupid the whole debate was to begin with. And, in case you were wondering — the color of the dress was ultimately confirmed to be blue and black.