Viral videos: when did they sell out?

The studio that produced “Friday” and others like it are slowly killing off creativity.

Bradford Palk

Let me start off by stating: I refuse to use the name of the 13-year-old Internet harlot who sings about certain weekdays. I think she and other “performers” like her are ruining viral videos and creativity for kids.

Maybe itâÄôs the pretentious Internet-hipster in me, but viral videos used to stand for something. They used to be candid shots of sk8r boys falling balls-first onto railings. About cats in vests playing the keyboard. They used to highlight illustrious lip-syncing careers.

In my Internet heyday, if you wanted to become something, you whipped out a camera and did it yourself. Viral videos were homemade âÄî just pure creative spirit and some accidental exposure.

But just like some indie band youâÄôve never heard of, viral videos sold out.

You can now choose from a variety of books explaining how to market something virally. Tosh.0 and other trite TV shows scour the Internet for the next big hit âÄî itâÄôs how “Friday” was found. And there are whole production companies devoted to creating viral videos.

And thatâÄôs where I fear for the children.

Kids have seen the success stories. And they understand how production-company-caliber videos can project them into the limelight. And with the onslaught of coverage of this she-devil, they know they can potentially obtain these services when mommy and daddy dole out a couple thousand dollars.

ThatâÄôs what I hate most about this “sellout” of viral videos. ItâÄôs no longer about something kids can create for fun. But rather something that can be created for them and in turn brings them success.

In a March issue of the magazine Pediatrics Now, Dr. Brian Primack, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, explains that children are hardwired to experiment and push boundaries. In the same article, Dr. Gwenn OâÄôKeefe explains that social media is encouraging kids to express their creativity.

That would be all well and good, but in an age where success is measured by the number of views tallied, itâÄôs easy to see why kids would seek help rather than create something of their own.

IâÄôm not asserting that all kidsâÄô creativities will be crushed. But I do know that my cousins âÄî ages 10 and 12 âÄî spew out dozens of Internet memes like theyâÄôre the holy grail of whatâÄôs cool and funny.

I dislike kids in general, but I absolutely hate the fact that these kids are having whatâÄôs “popular” decided for them.

IâÄôm fearful that when kids spend so much time on this proverbial Internet-playground, theyâÄôre going to start emulating, rather than creating something.

IâÄôm sure future generations of children will create very unique and innovative material. But others will pursue a cookie-cutter plan straight to mediocrity. And theyâÄôll do it because theyâÄôve seen how that plan has brought others success. The copycats âÄî and there are millions of them âÄî will wallow in the cliché and wonder why theyâÄôre still where they are.

You might say this fear is outlandish, but I worry because my creativity didnâÄôt spawn from the eternal springs of the Internet. It was cultivated in the backyards and bike rides of my childhood, playing guns with my stuffed animal and fantasizing about making out with Michelle PfeifferâÄôs Catwoman.

I concede that in my youth, I did in fact imitate those I found funny on the Internet âÄî evidence in fact remains on Google Video. But IâÄôve learned, and now value, how hard it is to be “cool” or “funny” through your own ideas and experiences.

Kids and adults should be striving to create and invent things of their own based off their own life experiences. And as optimistically cliché as it may sound, I hope itâÄôs this idea that goes viral.

So, curse you, producers of the Friday-worshiping phoney. You stand for all horrible things done to kids today.