Viral Challenges Keep Social Bonds Going

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Spencer Wu
Staff Writer

Popular trends often come and go with little lasting impact, but the newest craze might have entrenched itself into the social media Hall of Fame. It features a whole group of people standing still and remaining motionless as the cameraperson pans throughout the setting, posing as mannequins in mid-activity for the duration of the video. As absurd as this sounds, the Mannequin Challenge, often accompanied by Rae Sremmurd’s single off of SremmLife 2, “Black Beatles,” rose to popularity because of its simplicity and creativity.

The appeal of such a thing highlights a group’s affinity for social challenges. While trends like this are usually considered a waste of time by the older community, it is interesting to see such a strong backing from the older generation. Even the White House staff got in on it when the 2015-2016 NBA Champions Cleveland Cavaliers visited as a part of the annual championship tradition.

Unlike many previous social trends, this became a hit almost immediately, and is replicated at a fast rate and by so many people. The quality of a majority of these videos, done by people of all ages, is often top notch, or at least done in good taste. People are enjoying themselves while doing something constructive and it’s refreshing to see a social media trend become so accepted and universally appreciated.

The origins can be traced back to Colony High School in Ontario, Calif., where the video features stills from classroom, outdoor, and gym settings. This social media trend gained greater exposure thanks to Twitter with the #MannequinChallenge. Later on, it spread to other high schools, professional football locker rooms, and even campaign advertisements.

A fertile setting for these types of challenges is with professional sports teams (kudos to you, Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones). It is a fun, easy, and simple (you don’t even have to move) challenge to develop relationships and further team bonding. Especially in such large and diverse groups, it is important to do simple engaging activities to take a break from stressful everyday work. As Jones put it, “We’re all going to be mannequins so it didn’t take much convincing. We were sure enjoying our victory on our way back to Dallas.”

Furthermore, this has inspired other less well-known group movements like “Where’s Andy?” This is based on Toy Story where the animated toys would go back to their still state when Andy, their owner, would re-enter the room. Piggybacking off of the Mannequin Challenge, content creators creatively conjured up innovative ways of engaging viewers. It’s definitely worthwhile to track the vitality of these types of trends, as it is a solid indicator of what is popular in America.

As pointless as these types of things seem, the Mannequin Challenge should not be ridiculed as other trends and memes before it. It has little profound social or political impact and is not rooted in any significant event, but there’s nothing inherently negative about it. It’s fun. It’s interesting and entertaining. It brings groups together and does no harm. So to the people who are condemning these types of social media movements, they need to get over it.

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