Monday, May 28, 2012

Small, Weird World

Over the past few days, I have had a front row seat to one of the bizarre realities of our digitally entangled humanity, the quick rise of internet fame.

Last week, one of my good friends from college decided to propose to his girlfriend. In order to make the moment something special, he enlists the help of one of our other mutual friends, her husband and many of his other friends and family. They choreograph a dance, videotape the proposal and upload it to the internet. Over the course of three days, it goes viral like some great love SARS.

Anyone who spends time on the internet these days is familiar with the notion of things "going viral". From videogames, to music, to political revolutions, our recently manifested ability to communicate with the entire connected world has resulted in a fascinating democratization of culture. Its not exactly divorced from the traditional media establishment, but those classic titans of what's popular must now pay attention to the the things churning among the masses. I suspect we have all experienced this new viral culture creep. I definitely have. But this was the first time I have had a front-row seat to watch the spread from its inception. Straight from patient zero posting, "Hey, I got engaged! watch the video!" to a local cluster of congratulatory salutations and re-posts from friends and family, to re-posts from other friends who have no connection to the initial outbreak. Within hours, popular news blogs began to pick it up, first in the U.S. and then around the world. "Congratulations on your engagement!" became "Holy Crap! You're big in Japan!"

The funniest thing about all of this is that the wonderful shenanigans now sweeping the globe are not that unusual for this particular group of my friends. In college, we (along with a vastly expanded group) made a ritual of making ever more elaborate tribute films for peoples' birthdays. Each subsequent picture grew in scope until we were basically making feature-length NSFW inside jokes. It's been an ongoing trend of friendly one-upsmanship that apparently has kept going and growing.

I was always only an observer or a peripheral player in these antics, appearing in a couple scenes as needed, but these early films share a kindred spirit with this latest breakout. They were/are all driven by love. At their core lies a desire to make a person/people feel special and/or to blow their mind out their ears and make them say, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!? Amazing!!" *single tear...EXPLOSION!*

It is so heartwarming to see that this creative wackiness lives on, even after our group of friends has spread around the world. For this particular video, my friends enlisted an all new cast of characters. I can only hope that its not just the video that goes viral, but the desire to creatively express the joy of life.

Isaac, congratulations buddy and to Amy, whom I still haven't met! and a tip of the hat to Gina, Ammon and their new cast of crazies for helping keep the creative fires burning.

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