Life Imitates Art, Then Someone Falls from a Moving Car

By now we all know the power of the hashtag. No hashtag in particular, as any number of them can help someone go viral, start a civil rights movement, a dance craze, elevate political exposure, or shine a high beam on criminal misdeeds. The list of results is essentially endless. And like many hashtag results, the #InMyFeelingsChallenge is the perfect reflection of social media’s power to influence society at large. I mean, c’mon, ya’ll. People are jumping out of moving cars – and not gracefully either – to film themselves doing a dance created by comedian Shiggy.

Based on Drake’s number one hit “In My Feelings,” which was released last month, the challenge cropped up quite casually, as is often the case before things go viral. Shiggy filmed himself doing an impromptu dance to the popular song, and his off the cuff dance moves were so smooth, everybody wanted to do them, including Drake himself.

In the quest for fame, and more importantly, fortune, many have tried to replicate going viral to gain extreme amounts of social media attention in a very short period of time. But there’s really no hard and fast, guaranteed recipe on how to make a piece of content that’s so popular, even celebrities like Will Smith are hanging out on rooftops to show that they’re down.

However, there are three things that I’ve noticed when it comes to people who blow up quickly and unexpectedly on the internet. One is authenticity. They’re usually being themselves, doing things they’ve been doing in some shape or another. Only this time, their timing and the tone of subject matter is just right.

Two, there’s often a connection to a recent event in pop culture. It’s usually something catchy that people value. Obviously many people value music, and quite a few value Drake in particular.

Three, you need to find some easily shareable way to publicize yourself. Hashtags make that very easy. It doesn’t even have to be a catchy hashtag. It just needs to make sense and ultimately, it needs to make the rounds.

Shiggy fits this three-part criteria perfectly. He said he wasn’t trying to go viral. He was just inspired by the vibe and the beat of a popular song. He couldn’t believe it when people started jumping out of moving cars trying, in some rather dangerous episodes of life – attempting – to imitate art, to copy him. And for the record, the whole jumping out of cars to dance thing? That’s not new.

I can remember hopping out of cars at stop lights to dance in the street. Of course, that was some time ago. I was young, and I certainly would not endorse such behavior now, you understand. But it was fun, we thought it was cool, and the cars were at a complete stop, gear in park.

Forgive me for this particularly frivolous blog. I couldn’t quite bear the thought of analyzing the lack of truth in media a la That Person in the White House’s endless tweets, or picking apart – again – how idiotic, racist and unfair the media can be when it comes to covering certain minority groups a la Nia Wilson.

For a brief moment, I just wanted to gab over how silly and fun it can be when something in the media catches hold of us and influences our actions to a crazy degree. I don’t think I will ever not be fascinated by how something as small as a 60-second video, something so seemingly inconsequential yet potentially dangerous – those falls from the cars look extremely painful – can erupt onto the scene and influence our behavior, our conversation, even our lives. It’s why as topsy-turvy, biased, and ridiculous as it can be, I will always love the media.

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