8. Spreadability and Circulation of Internet Challenges


Something that’s been a consistent trend on the internet over the past few years has been social media user’s involvement in internet challenges. Before social media really picked up, I can remember kids in my middle school rubbing erasers into their skin while they said the ABC’s to see who would last the longest. This was always a big problem for us, because it left awful brush burns, but everyone always knew about it and continued to do it.


Social media has really amplified people’s interest in getting involved in challenges like this. Social media has allowed us to not only do these challenges with friends, but to record and spread to a much larger audience. My first memory of seeing a challenge on the internet was when the cinnamon challenge came out. Like the eraser challenge before it, you really only got hurt from it but an overwhelming amount of people still did it.


Like many internet trends, these videos have good and bad versions, challenges like the ice bucket challenge are able to raise awareness and donations for philanthropic causes and can be very beneficial marketing tools to get people interested.


Similar to what Kiera said about memes, the spreadability of memes is largely dependent on having users send them to one another or tag them in a post. These videos get posted on platforms like facebook and twitter to be shared with everyone. Jenkins article about spreadability and people’s ability to share content with one another is also crucial to things like internet challenges becoming wide spread (Jenkins). While many adults can’t resist a good dare, internet challenges are mostly shared from teenager to teenager.


As these challenges are often spread through teenaged groups, peer pressure can also play a large role. If enough people are doing it, even more people are going to feel pulled into it (Figer). While this can have negative effects in cases like eating tide pods, wanting to be included is something many people want, especially during their teenage years. Posting a video of yourself partaking in a challenge for everyone to see allows people all over the world be involved in something together.


Firger, Jessica. “Why teenagers get suckered in by social media dares.” Newsweek, 13 June 2016, www.newsweek.com/2016/05/27/teens-social-media-dares-459419.html.

Jenkins, Henry, et al. “Why Media Spreads.” Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York University Press, 2018.

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