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8 of the Weirdest Internet Fads of All Time

By Edited May 18, 2016 2 2

What Strange Internet Memes Do You Remember?

Over the years several Internet fads have come and gone. Many web trends have been fun and light-hearted, while others were just plain weird, with some Internet crazes being stranger than others. Many of the early fads were linked to graphics and video. Technology was in its early formation stages and many types of programming, such as graphics and animation, were new and exciting. People were having fun exploring what could be done with a computer and its accessories.

However, fast-forward a decade and a half and technology has progressed significantly. The Internet is a very different place than it was in the early days. Today's web has gone social and many of those old simple amusements are now either staples now and/or outdated, so people have kicked it up a notch with new crazes. Many of the more recent fads involve people taking images of themselves, their pets or other objects and posting the photos in various places on the Internet, especially on social networks.

Here are some of the weirdest Internet fads ever, both old and new:

1. Planking

Planking is an activity many engage in that entails laying face down and expressionless. The idea is to lay perfectly still while a photo is taken and, well, look like a plank board. The position is specific, plankers must keep their legs and arms straight, pointed down. Plank pictures are then posted to the Internet for all to see, but not before getting dubbed with a name; the fad went global. People placed themselves on chimney's police cars, trees, basketball hoops and other surfaces. Some plankers sought dangerous places, capturing the moment by image and posting to Facebook and other networks.

Ohio planking.jpg

"Ohio planking" by 5chw4r7z. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately, as planking became a web phenom, the people got more daring and the stints became more precarious. This weird Internet trend resulted in the tragic death of one Australian man in May 2011. 2 Despite this terrible incident, planking continued, however, more emphasis was placed on safety. Planking was eventually usurped by "milking" the following year (the latter entailed people dumping milk over their heads while being filmed - with the intention to also capture people's reactions).

2. Owling

As planking ran trendy, a new, yet similar, meme emerged and became known as "owling". This fad seemingly emerged during the summer of 2011. What this entails is people positioning themselves in an owl perched position, posing for a photo and, like planking, posting it on the Internet.

Owling man RH.jpg

"Owling man RH" by Richard Heaven - Flickr: Chapter Eleven Tour. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Owling reportedly originated in Washington D.C. at George Mason University. Huffington spoke via email with Allison Smith, 24, who said:

"My friend and I were just messing around and wanted to start something besides planking, which we did all over the place," adding, "The picture was created by a friend and I, though other people claim it's been around, I haven't seen it before." 3

The photo was dubbed "Owling?" and a new trend was born. Yet, others have claimed to invent the concept as well.

3. Hamsterdance

Flashing back to yesteryear, there are some earlier less "personal" trends that caught the web community by surprise and spread quickly.  For instance, the hamsterdance is one of the most popular Internet trends ever. Reportedly created by Deidre LaCarte in 1997 as a "homage to her pet hamster", the hamsterdance spread through the web community like wildfire. People were humming the catchy tune and glued to their screens watching the hamsters dance across the screen. The Hamsterdance can still be found today, even on CD.

4. Coning

Coning was born after planking and entails, according to Urban Dictionary,  "the act of buying a ice cream cone through a drive-through and grabbing it by the ice cream itself not the cone."  5 When it cropped up, many referred to this fad as the "new planking". The original clip posted in June 2011 has 10,343,628 page views as of January 2015 (Update: In May 18, this has inched up to 10,443,200 - so it seems to have fizzled out over time - still being viewed but not at the pace it was previously).

Coning anyone?

5. Rickrolling

Rickrolling is a bait and switch activity where people think they are clicking a relevant hyperlink to get to certain information. Instead the person is presented with a video of 1980s pop-star Rick Astley singing his hit "Never Gonna Give You Up." This web fad eventually moved on to mobile phones where teens began to "rickroll" one another through text. However, despite its age in terms of meme-years, rickrolling is still on the move online, as it continues to pop up in varies places across the web - even in 2016. It's one of those memes that just never goes away. In the United States, even the White House has been known to participate in "rickrolling". 6

6. JibJab

This one actually is said to have originated back in 1999, but it took until the 2004 election to bring it into the limelight and really take off.  Suddenly, all sorts of JibJab parodies popped up and went viral in emails cracking people up. Today, JibJab mainly lives on in the form of video and ecards.

7. Cat Breading

Perhaps one of the most bizarre web trends is "cat breading".  What this one entails is taking photos of cats with a slice of bread placed around its neck -- giving the appearance of a cat's face "framed" in bread. According to Know Your Meme, the "cat breading" is intended to be a pun for "inbred". Eventually, this fad took off enough where it garnered several media reports, a mention on "South Park" and also inspired a video game.

8. Salt and Ice Challenge

A trend that sadly has lasted a few years now and can still be found online with new YouTube clips or media reports on a regular basis, this dangerous Internet meme entails putting both salt and ice on a person's skin to see how long they can withstand the burning pain that results. People have been hurt badly with this one. Not a meme deserving a lot of attention other than to warn people not to do it. Same thing goes for the Cinnamon Challenge.

While some web trends linger on in memory more than others and continue to live on, others have faded, or will eventually, fade away.  What weird Internet fad will be next is anyone's guess, but it's almost a certain someone will come up with something bizarre that will take the web by storm.

What weird Internet memes have you seen this year?

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Comments

Aug 14, 2014 6:11pm
RoseWrites
These are really strange fads - sad about the death from planking. I didn't know about some of these, I only knew about cat breading and planking. Interesting read, I just hope no one gets hurt from some of these fads. Thumbing and pinning.
Aug 15, 2014 5:17am
LeighGoessl
Thanks so much Rose for commenting, thumbing and pinning, appreciated : ). I remember the planking, seeing all sorts of dangerous photos, and wondered why? It seems social media has really pushed it up a notch as people try to "out do" each other. There was one local news story here where a babysitter did the salt/ice one with a 9 year old child. Terrible.
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Bibliography

  1. AMIR EFRATI "How Planking Became the Internet's Latest Bored Game." Wall Street Journal. 11/06/2011. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  2. "Australia Man plunges to 'planking' death'." NBC News. 15/05/2011. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  3. David Moye "Owling Replacing Planking? Sez Who?." Huffington Post . 15/07/2011. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  4. "Owling: The new planking?." Washington Post. 12/07/2011. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  5. "Coning." Urban Dictionary. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  6. "Call the White House Boring on Twitter, Get Rickrolled." Mashable. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  7. "Original Hampster Dance from 1997 (hamsters dancing online)." YouTube. 12/08/2014 <Web >
  8. "Move Over Planking: ‘Milking’ is the Internet’s Latest Silly Meme." Time. 29/11/2012. 25/01/2015 <Web >

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