The statistics are staggering. YouTube has around 2.2 billion active users monthly, and people post about 2,500 videos every minute. Meanwhile, about 500 million people are on Instagram daily, and some 45 million open their TikTok accounts at some time during the day.
With so many people using these and other platforms, competition for views is fierce. Very few people can make a living just by posting videos. Many try but very few succeed. Most content disappears in the rush of new content, and few people ever watch the seemingly endless video posts. However, sometimes a video goes viral, and millions of people watch it.
But why? What makes one video stand out when so many are forgotten? It’s difficult to say that one specific thing ensures a video will go viral. A few things help: If it’s funny, topical, and something people can relate to, then it’s more likely to be remembered and spread around. Some say the technical quality is important, but this depends on the content. Some viral videos are shot on a shaky mobile phone, which helps them feel more genuine.
There are no rules to follow to ensure your video goes viral. A video will probably only be popular for a very short time. One week everyone seems to be watching it; the next week, it’s gone. Here are the top ten bizarre ways people have gone viral.
10 Food for Thought
The market for entertaining clips is big, but the supply is even bigger. People quickly scroll through dozens of videos before seeing one that grabs their attention. This means that anyone who wants to build a faithful audience must do something drastic to stand out.
While food challenges aren’t a new invention, some food combos are extreme, even by the internet’s standards. Donuts and mustard are probably one of the few ways you can ruin donuts.
Weird challenges like this work and get views that are nothing to sneeze at. How the filmmaker persuaded his dad to join in the fun is a bit of a mystery.
9 Not Chickening Out
Food challenges have become a popular publicity gimmick for many nationwide restaurants. There are even websites that list the restaurants that offer them. Yet, when you think about it, it’s a very strange thing to do. Some animals indeed stuff themselves with food, but they then take days to digest it or go into hibernation. Humans don’t have to do this; we just do it for fun.
Part of the fun is seeing if it’s actually possible, and with a giant plate of chicken fried steak, you can’t help but be skeptical at first.
In the challenge we feature, thousands have tried, but few have succeeded. I won’t spoil your fun by telling you how our presenter did, but however you look at it, it’s a bizarre thing to do.
8 Cop Over the Top
Cops don’t have an easy time of it. Their job demands a lot of them; they are under pressure and have to deal with the public at its worst in often dangerous situations. Yet we rightly expect them to meet the highest possible standards.
In this video, we see a cop reacting in a completely inappropriate way to the actual situation. His use of force seems bizarre given the apparent threat level, and certainly not something he would have learned in training.
Nowadays, when everyone is carrying a camera, such actions don’t go unrecorded. That clips like this one go viral in a matter of hours means that our police are under constant scrutiny. This is as it should be, but our outrage should, I believe, be tempered by an understanding that cops are only human.
7 Shark Attack!
” Baby Shark” is guaranteed to get toddlers singing along and dancing (and their parents wondering why they decided to have children). It’s more than a little strange that a video showing kids escaping from hungry sharks should be so popular. But the song is catchy, the dance is easy to learn, and it’s buoyant. The two children who feature in the video became immediate celebrities.
Pinkfong, a South Korean company, bears responsibility for this video, but the song has been around for a while. Apparently, versions of it were sung around campfires by young campers, and the song was inspired by the movie Jaws. You can hear the familiar Jaws theme in the opening bars of “Baby Shark.” The song first went viral in Indonesia and then quickly became a worldwide wonder.
The Baby Shark Dance is a YouTube phenomenon. It’s the most viewed video on the platform, with over 10 billion views (the first video to reach such a number). Given that not everyone has access to YouTube (it’s not available in China, for example), this must mean that some parents have probably been forced to play it on a loop. We can’t help but admire their patience and commitment.
6 The Punishment Fits
Some people who come up for sentencing before this Ohio judge must look forward to hearing his ruling. Take the teenager who saved herself some cash by not paying her cab driver. The judge gave her a choice between spending 30 days in jail (which seems a bit harsh) or walking thirty miles. Not surprisingly, she chose to walk.
A humane judge with a sense of humor handing out inventive sentences that fit the crime—what’s not to like? I like that he asked the girl what she would have done if she hadn’t gotten a cab. When she replied that she would have had to walk, the punishment suggested itself.
He’s saving taxpayer money and giving the perpetrators a lesson they won’t forget. It’s viral because it’s funny and gives viewers something to think about. It’s bizarre because we don’t expect judges to behave like this. Perhaps more should.
5 Crossing a Line
This one went viral for the wrong reasons, unfortunately. The cafe owners put their manager on the spot by asking him to speak in English. The manager gamely tries to do his best but is clearly not comfortable speaking a foreign language. The cafe is in Islamabad, Pakistan, so there isn’t much demand for an English-speaking manager. The reason why the owners are doing this is mostly that they are bored and think it’s funny. This is no excuse.
What they are doing is thoughtless and mean. They later apologized for posting the video, but the damage was done. The video, as you can see, is still available. It is, as we know, very difficult to take down content once it’s been posted.
The video is mercifully short and of poor quality. That people can be cruel will not be a surprise to anyone. What is weird about this one is why it went viral. I hope they at least apologized to the manager and that he’s found a better place to work.
4 Soaring Whale
This short, astonishing film would make a great screensaver. Apparently, no trick photography was involved. It’s strange because even though we understand what we’re seeing, it feels like we’re seeing something else, something impossible. In reality, the whale is swimming through luminescent algae that just look like stars.
It’s also very beautiful and the sort of clip that people would want to show their friends. But the film didn’t go viral immediately. It appeared on various platforms and then disappeared. A year later, it popped up on Twitter on the “Wonder of Science” account and garnered more than 3 million views.
The clip’s star is the whale, but the man who filmed it deserves recognition. The photographer is Mike Nulty, a man who describes himself on Twitter as “a writer, artist, and reluctant philosopher.” He leaves out the fact that he is a talented photographer.
3 Googling Grannie
We live in a world of technological wonders that, for many of us, can be difficult to grasp. This grandma does her best but can’t quite get the hang of her new smart speaker.
On one level, it seems that we are laughing at her, but we are laughing with her because we can all sympathize with her difficulties. At one point, she says that she is scared. This is probably a bit of an exaggeration as she handles the situation well and with considerable charm. However, you have to wonder why someone didn’t show her how to use her new device. Or, for that matter, why she didn’t throw it at the grandson who gave it to her.
Maria can also laugh at herself, as shown when she is invited to SteveTV. She becomes the star of the segment. Younger people who have grown up with new technology take advances in their stride. A lot of older people find this new world baffling.
What’s bizarre about this video is simply the fact that it reflects how much the world has changed in such a short span of time.
2 Teens Applaud Good Guy
This clip shows how creative people can be when selling second-hand stuff. In this example, teens react to some pretty strange commercials for used cars. The first is someone trying to offload his girlfriend’s 1996 Honda Accord. The car has 140,000 miles under its belt, and the guy asks for $500. But the commercial is so well produced that you would think he was selling a top-of-the-range Tesla.
It’s funny, and the seller has spent a lot of time and effort on the video. The result is truly bizarre. Curiously, the narrator tells us that bids on eBay for the car reached a whopping $150,000 before eBay withdrew it from sale because of “irregular bidding.” No, we don’t know what they meant by that either.
The other commercials in this clip are well worth watching too. The comments from the young people reviewing the commercials are often funny in themselves.
1 Climbing El Capitán
In California’s Yosemite National Park stands the granite mountain called El Capitán. One of its faces is nearly vertical and rises to almost 3,000 feet (915 meters). It’s a challenge that only the best climbers take on.
The peak remained unconquered until 1958, and all climbers since have treated the mountain with great respect. Climbing El Capitán requires detailed preparation. No matter which route they take, climbers must ensure that their equipment is in perfect condition and climb carefully—often taking 3 or 4 days to make it to the top.
Alex Honnold ensures that he knows exactly how to tackle any of his climbs. He had climbed El Capitán before and knew the Freerider route as well as anyone. The bizarre thing is that he then decided to climb it as a “free-solo” attempt.
Free-solo climbing means one climber goes up a rock face with no ropes. It’s just the climber and the climb. To free-solo climb a nearly vertical face of 3,000 feet is beyond eccentric; it’s almost crazy. But Honnold did it, and he did it in just under 4 hours.
As a footnote, Honnold’s mom decided to take up her son’s hobby at 60. She twice beat the record for the oldest woman to climb El Capitán—once at 66, then again at 70. No doubt she was sick and tired of worrying about Alex.