Going viral: why we’re addicted to online distractions

The staggering viral video success of a woman and her Chewbacca mask has highlighted how obsessed the world is with its online distractions.

Thirty-seven-year-old Candyce Payne from Texas set a new record for the number of views on a Facebook Live video last weekend, with a staggering 134.5 million plays … and counting. The previous record was 10 million.

The seemingly normal woman doing a seemingly normal thing (but finding it incredibly funny) set the internet alight, making headlines in both serious and tabloid news services around the world.

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An expert in internet studies told The New Daily that news websites were just reacting to the way the public was becoming obsessed with being distracted by viral video content.

“It is true that increasingly news sites know people want to see these kinds of videos, especially if its funny,” Curtin University senior lecturer in internet studies Dr Tama Leaver said.

“Viral videos are the perfect length to watch on the bus, in a waiting room or in the back of a boring lecture.

“They make news stories more attractive and at the same time people will sit there and watch the video on the news page with ads blaring all around it.”

Watch the video below:

Dr Leaver said that as online videos become more and more about corporations advertising their brands, “genuine moments” like the one broadcast by Ms Payne would achieve more popularity.

“There are a lot of spaces in our life when video is present and this is because of technology,” he said. “It hadn’t been like that before mobile phones.”

jalal brothers

The Jalal brothers want to make money from their viral videos. Photo: AAP

Smartphone ownership in 2016 is set to reach 2.65 billion people worldwide, according to statistics portal Statista.

With that kind of personal technology – it doesn’t account for tablets – so ubiquitous it isn’t surprising that there were some people making a living from viral videos.

In March, The New Daily reported on the Jalal brothers, whose viral pranks stood to earn them thousands of dollars.

Dr Leaver said there were thousands of people on the internet trying to make money from being watched online, however he said natural efforts like Ms Payne’s would likely be remembered more fondly.

The public’s ravenous disposition for viral online content has created some seminal videos. Below are five particularly famous examples:

The sneezing baby Panda:

Charlie bit my finger:

Will it blend? – iPhone:

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis and Barack Obama:

Diet Coke and Mentos challenge (Warning: some foul language):

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