4 Inexplicably Huge Internet Trends
Imagine that, on your way to the grocery store, you took a wrong turn and ended up in a neighborhood you'd never seen before. Everyone speaks a language that doesn't sound like any language you'd ever heard before. They wear capes, they eat only fish. They have a completely functioning economy, but it's entirely based on sticks. They've invented their own musical instruments, they have their own celebrities and politicians, and they have a bunch movies that are kind of like ours, but tweaked in some way. You're shocked, because it means these people have been successfully living with their own set of rules and laws, their own problems, their own history, and their own pop culture for years and years and you've only just discovered them. And they're just two blocks away from you!
That's exactly how I feel about the internet sometimes. I've spent a lot of time online, enough time that I feel like I understand it or, failing that, am at least aware of every fringe group that hangs out here. But every time I feel like I've finally encountered every bizarre, dedicated fan forum, every pointless meme, and every inexplicable fetish site, I'll stumble onto something new that completely throws me for a loop. I'll find some site or forum or video series that introduces me to a brand new niche community, a group of people from all over the world with their own interests, rules and behaviors, and they've existed on the internet for years, right around the corner from me.
Here are four of them.
#4. Why Is Christopher Meloni Trying To Have Sex With Me In Every Picture on Google
Christopher Meloni is a fine actor. Maybe you know him from Oz or his cameos in both of the Harold and Kumar movies. If you're me, you know him as the hilariously insane Gene from Wet Hot American Summer or the intense and constantly angry Detective Stabler on Law & Order: SVU. A while ago I was doing photo research for some Cracked article and knew I needed a photo of Det. Stabler looking badass and angry, which he does a lot. So I did a Google Image Search on "Christopher Meloni."
This... this isn't what I was looking for.
Those are all of the first, above-the-fold results for Christopher Meloni. I didn't type "Meloni shirtless" or "Meloni in bed" or "Christopher Meloni taking Majestic Shower."
Just regular "Christopher Meloni." And those were the results. I won't deny that he's a handsome man, but there are a lot of handsome fake detectives, and not all of them have an alarming number of "I just got done fucking you on a cloud" pictures, (or if they do, those pictures certainly aren't in their top search returns). I wouldn't be surprised if Google turned back a bunch of forcefully romantic, shirtless pictures of some teen heartthrob, but Stabler? Freakshow from Harold and Kumar? Why? Did an Ad Executive say "We've got a great new season of SVU coming out; let's get a couple of photos of Meloni lying on a white, plush carpet immediately post coital to promote it. Meloni, get your shirt off."
Law & Order is one of the most popular franchises on television. SVU has been on for 12 years and Stabler is arguably Meloni's most well-known role, so why do I have to sift through a dozen soft-focus pictures of Meloni eye-fucking the camera before I can find one of him with a god damned detective badge?
It's not just that these pictures were all taken, (although, yes, weird), it's that they're all the top results for "Christopher Meloni." Which means more people are searching for Meloni specifically to see him in some majestic, aggressively romantic pose than anything having to do with his career.
I don't know why. I don't care to know why. And, for the record I changed my search term to "Detective Stabler" in an effort to receive only pictures of the angry, tough-as-nails detective. My first two results?
#3. Why Is Flickr Full of Bleeding Nipples?
WARNING. The space below this paragraph contains pictures of bleeding nipples. Also, the space immediately above it. I'm really bad at giving disclaimers.
One of the awful, awful downsides to running a marathon is "bleeding nipples," or what doctors call "when blood comes from your nipple after you run." Running for a long time causes sweat, which is water and salt, (and other stuff, shut up). When the water part of sweat evaporates, you're left with the salt part of sweat. Salt on your skin mixed with friction mixed with your shirt feels like sand paper rubbing against your nipples, which causes them to bleed and get rubbed right off. We've covered this before, but we haven't really covered the community that's emerged as a result.
The above picture comes from a Flickr account, but not just some marathon-runner's personal account. It's a Flickr account that exclusively features pictures of bleeding nipples.
Again, finding this Flickr account, (and the many others just like it), felt like stumbling onto that mystery community on the way to the grocery store. "You take pictures of bloody nipples and post them to the internet? And you want to share them? And there are more of you and you all found each other?? Where have I been?"
"We- You don't have to point, man, we know why this picture exists, here."
#2. Why Is "Dog Head Tilt" a Sub Genre of YouTube?
This one's almost understandable. Dogs are the best. They're hilarious and adorable and stupid and perfect, and this one can climb mountains, and I love them very much. Everyone loves animal videos, and YouTube was practically designed to be the perfect destination, the number one stop for all of your stupid/cute/hilarious pet video needs. It's hard for me to be surprised by any popular sub genre of pet video, because everything pets do is great.
But then there are videos about head tilts. Head-tilting is a very common dog move. It's less of a trick and more of a "I'm a dog, and this is a thing that dogs do" type of thing. Every dog does it, and it's almost always adorable. Here's what happens if you search "Dog Head Tilt" on YouTube.
Again, I guess it's not that surprising that people wanted to share the video of their dogs doing awesome dog stuff, because you never know if a few dozen people might want to see- Holy SHIT does that first video have over 3 million views? And the others, tens and in some case hundreds of thousands of people? Huh.
But that's still not weird to me. It's not so weird that there are literally thousands of YouTube videos of dogs tilting their hands, and it's not so weird that millions of people watch almost every single one of them. But something is weird about this, to me. I realized it while watching the following video:
If you can't watch that video, I'll fill you in. It's a standard "Dog looks at camera and tilts head" video, and fits in snugly in the classic dog-head-tilt film genre. But, if you look closely, you might notice something.
No, I haven't placed any kind of "invasively adorable" filters on your computers. That head-tilting pit bull is covered in baby chickens. That's a very strange, totally awesome thing that the uploader in no way mentions in the video's title.
It's almost not even addressed in the video itself; the camerawoman eventually asks the dog if it wants to play with its chicks at the very end, only after ignoring the elephant in the room for three-fourths of the video. A video with the headline "Dog Relaxes with Tiny Baby Chickens" would have KILLED on the internet. Videos of two different animals--especially when those animals are being cute-- do insanely well on the internet, they're certainly more popular than videos of dogs tilting their heads.
Even though d'aaaawwww.
The fact that this video leads with the very dog-like head-tilting and not the distinctly undog-like chick-chilling means that the uploader wasn't trying to get a ton of views; they were just trying to fit into the thriving community of people who post videos of their dogs tilting their heads. Being one of the related videos for "Dog tilts head" was more important than calling attention to the objectively more interesting phenomenon of inter-species friendliness.
And I make no judgment on the existence of this community which is large enough at this point to raise its own army. No judgment at all. Unless- is "Why" a judgment? Because that's where I'm coming from. Why? Why?
#1. Why Is The Fuck Are Haul Videos A Thing?
Go to YouTube and search the word "Haul." You will see hundreds of videos with millions and millions of views that are called some variation of "My Haul Video."
In Haul videos, someone, (always a chick, always between the ages of 16 and 25), tells you what they bought at a store, and why they bought it. (Most actually start off talking about Haul videos, whether they're explaining why they decided to do another Haul video or apologizing for not making enough Haul videos.) I want you to know that I'm not under-explaining this. There's nothing more to it. A woman looks directly into the camera and goes through their shopping bag, telling you why they bought the things that they bought.
She bought that at either the fudge or post-it note store, I'm not sure what it is.
Here's Sarah, telling the 25,000 people who watched her video what she bought at the grocery store.
She tells you how much the oatmeal cost, how many servings are in one container, how much fiber and protein it has, and why she likes it, (she likes oatmeal).
And there's Michelle talking about a dress with a cross design on it that she bought, and why she likes it so much, (it has a cross design on it).
And that's Dulce Candy talking about the makeup she bought. Dulce's video is like most of the others, (a recap of a fairly standard shopping experience stretched across 9-16 minutes), except that, at about three minutes in, she casually mentions the fact that she was in the military four years ago and then never brings it up again. To me, her history in the military sounds a whole lot more interesting than the hair brush she bought, but what do I know? After all, I'm not one of the 399,000 people that subscribe to her channel there are 399,000 people that subscribe to her channel!?
I really cannot figure out these videos. The vloggers, while all insanely popular, are not all doing this for money; Michelle's is a nonprofit channel and all of the money she makes in advertising goes straight to charity. These women aren't making Haul videos that teach you how to find the best deals on clothes or make up or oatmeal, so they're not exactly practical. And they're not telling you which designers to avoid, or which brands fall apart easily, so there are no lessons. And they're not showing off purchases that come from the fanciest, most expensive stores-- Hell, the veteran with the hairbrush was shopping at a CVS.
"I killed a guy with this. But that's boring, I'm sorry, I'm going to talk about lip gloss again."
There doesn't seem to be an agenda beyond "Hey everyone, here are some things I bought, here's what I was thinking when I bought them, and here's an ocean's worth of run-on sentences." And, again, I don't think that's wrong, or anything, I'm just shocked to find out that they've been hanging out at the same internet as me this entire time and I'm just noticing them now and will never understand them ever. For all I know, they feel the same way. Maybe they recently stumbled onto Cracked and were absolutely shocked to find out there was some site that does nothing but post articles full of dick jokes every single day. I guess what I'm trying to say is, People Who Find and Publish Pictures of Bleeding Nipples, Pet Owners Who Exclusively Post Videos of Dogs Tilting Their Heads, Obsessively Dedicated Christopher Meloni Fans/Stalkers, and Women Who Tell Other Women What They Bought- we're not all that different after all.
(But, yes, I still think you're all very weird.)
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and yesterday he went to Target and bought bottled water, paper towels, and soap but he forgets what brand, (other ladies).