Yesterday I watched that video that’s going viral. That one about videos.
Last week I watched that other video that was going viral, a week ago. You might have forgotten it already. It was about moms.
I read a list of reasons not to get married before you were 24. I read another list of reasons why you should get married whenever you want. (I also read all the comments. Guilty pleasure.)
I saw a list of Facebook friends under the videos, telling me who shared it. Old-friend-from-high-school shared it. Weird-guy-from-Spanish-class shared it. Next-door-neighbor-when-I-was-two shared it. I did an internal shrug. Ok, I thought, I’ll watch it. It must have some worth if all of these people are telling me it has some worth.
And we’re happy because the internet is democratic, because we vote with our clicks or our shares or our likes. We say, this video is worth something, I’m going to tell the world. I’m going to vote for it.
Sometimes they’re great. I’m personally still a big fan of Christmas Jammies. Sometimes they’re clichéd and pedantic. Of course, this is according to me, and I’m just one vote, and I don’t know very much about anything.
It makes me think of an argument I used to have with a friend. She was a terrible person, obviously, because she hated Harry Potter. She bashed the plot and the characters and the writing style. Finally, after defending my childhood over and over, I gave her this point: look how many people like it. Doesn’t that mean anything?
She, of course, looked at me with condescending eyes and a shake of the head. No, Devin, it doesn’t mean anything, she said.
But I think maybe it does. As much as I hate dumb videos about moms, as much as I whine that there are things so much better, popularity does mean something. Viral-ability (can we make this a word?) means more than ad revenues and clicks. It means universality. Relatability. Some sort of common truth that people respond to, that people recognize themselves in. Cliches, as much as every writer hates them, are really just over-told truths.
I guess it’s the writer’s job to tell them differently. And it’s the internet’s job to make sure we don’t forget them.