You’ve seen it. Your friends have seen it. Even your parents have seen it. And to top it off, everyone around you seems to incessantly quote from it. It may be of a man crying after witnessing a double rainbow, or a kid who freaks out after a visit to the dentist, or even a deodorant salesman on a horse, but you (and everyone else) have watched it (some of us multiple times). Welcome to the world of viral videos.
By definition, a viral video is something that is internet propelled, made popular through online sharing through digital channels such as social media websites (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) and video sharing websites (i.e. YouTube). These videos are often shot by non-professionals on camera phones or other portable video recording devices, intended for viewing by a small audience (usually close friends and family). Thus, videos that become viral are often unexpected and accidental; a video cannot be called “viral” at the time of creation, or even intentionally designed to be “viral.” Usually, videos created specifically to become “viral” will not do as well as those that occur organically.
Viral video may be slowly becoming its own medium, but it can still be divided up into different subcategories.
The “Caught On Camera” Viral
The viral videos that fall into this category usually have been captured with a lot of luck, where the person who recorded it just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
Double Rainbow Guy
A guy. A rainbow. A video camera. The rest is pretty much legendary.
Bonus video: Kung Fu Kid
A small fight takes an unexpected turn.
The “Awwwww” Viral
The title explains it all, but viral videos that fall into this category usually will invoke some sort of silent squealing or a smile.
The Puppy That Can’t Get Up
This video of a baby french bulldog went viral as viewers everywhere chuckled as it kept trying to figure out how to stand up.
Bonus video: The Force – Volkswagen Commercial
Originally a Superbowl spot, this video featured a pint-sized Darth Vader who tries to use the force.
The “Random Humor” Viral
These videos have bizarre content. They can be humorous or just plain weird, but they are nonetheless entertaining.
Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
This deodorant commercial spread like wildfire across the Internet due to its random humor. Its attractive spokesperson didn’t hurt, either.
The “Blooper” Viral
Simply put, these viral videos feature people (accidentally) saying ridiculous things.
Miss Teen South Carolina
Caitlin Upton, South Carolina’s representative to the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant, tries and fails to explain why 20% of Americans couldn’t find the United States on a world map.
The “Internet Meme” Viral
An “internet meme” is a term used to describe a concept, behavior, or idea that spreads via the internet. These videos showcase internet memes at its finest.
A video of a cat saying “Nyan.”
The “Kids Say the Darndest Things” Viral
They do say the darndest things, don’t they?
David After Dentist
David’s dad started recording his son in the back of his car after David went to the dentist.
The “Talent” Viral
Videos in this category feature people doing extraordinary things.
Taiwanese Kid sings Whitney Houston
A surprising discovery on a Taiwanese talent show.