They have the power to make millions of people smile until their cheeks hurt, laugh until they collapse onto the ground, and cry all at the same time within the span of about two minutes.
They are viral videos.
“I think it’s the same as watching a movie really. The videos are just shorter,” Bridget Van Dorsten ’15 said. , “People just like to see things that make them happy.”
There is something about cute YouTube videos that gives off a similar warm and fuzzy feeling that a feel-good movie would, but all of that happiness is jam-packed into a two minute long bundle of emotion. These videos can travel from person to person in a matter of seconds, bringing the overwhelming happiness of the “emotional baby” or the excitement of a crazy proposal to the screens of millions.
“They are re-watchable and easy to share,” Diyab Kahn ’15 said. “Once someone watches it and enjoys it they want to share the laughing with friends, and especially with social media today, that can explode and make certain videos go viral.”
Every sixty seconds, there are about 700 YouTube videos shared on Twitter alone according to Jeff Bulas, Forbes’ social medica specialist. While movies cannot exactly be forcibly shared without physically dragging a person to a theatre, short online videos shared on social media will undoubtedly be clicked on by millions of people taking their everyday scroll down their news feed.
Some of the most popular videos of 2013 that seemed to make their way to every single computer screen in existence included “How Animals Eat Their Food,” the unbearably adorable “Emotional Baby,” and of course the classic “Harlem Shake” videos (especially the original Army version).
While it is a commonly accepted fact that these videos are entertaining, some people feel that they often shine the spotlight on the wrong aspects of YouTube.
“The videos themselves are cute, but they aren’t the best of what YouTube has to offer,” Ken Asada ’15 said. “I guess these random videos that go viral give the site a reputation for kitten videos or something-cool-you-recorded-in-your-backyard, which is only a small fraction of what’s out there.”
YouTube as a whole contains a huge variety of quality content, from short films by budding filmmakers to science videos that can help students with their classes. But there will always be the classic videos of adorable kittens and babies that seem to get over 20 million views overnight.
“Watching other people be happy makes you be happy, so you share it with your friends to maybe lift up their day” Nicole Mathias ’14 said.
“It’s kind of passing on the kindness in a way.”