The Life And Death Of A Digital Trend


The digital world is a place where trends explode like meteors but disappear as quickly as they begin. I was recently deleting all of my unused apps on my phone because I couldn’t figure out why I was using so much of my data, and realized that I have an entire folder of games — old, on-trend apps that have collected virtual dust over the past year or so.

I thought about taking a screen shot of the old trends and Instagramming it with the #tbt hashtag. But, most of these trends weren’t really that old. My debilitating addiction to Candy Crush Saga was only last summer, my obsession with Fruit Ninja took place in 2012, and the anxiety-evoking Words With Friends game got me through most of my mandatory philosophy classes in undergrad.

It was bittersweet to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit my past addictions. It basically felt like I had unexpectedly run into an old ex or found an old vacation album. There were feelings of nostalgia but also relief that I was no longer bound with the nagging feeling of always needing to visit the game.

In 2012, I would be lost if I wasn’t able to fill the ten minute void before class with Draw Something. Watching the drawing come to life was painstaking but exhilarating at the same time if your opponent was a half decent artist. The best was when you were finally able to unlock that pastel color palette you had been waiting for. Luckily, Temple Run was a game that did not require a WiFi connection, so whenever I got the itch, anytime, anywhere, it was on. This particular addiction was one of my worst, maybe because it was so readily available, like Starbucks or cheap. (Don’t even get me started on Ruzzle. If you wanted to play dirty, you could send a text message to your competitor to interrupt their game and make them lose time.)

These trends are so addicting for a short period of time and are forgotten about so easily. Articles and youtube videos go viral for a week or two and then seem to disappear forever. Do you remember “In my Christmas Jammies” that was shared hundreds of thousands of times only a few months ago but haven’t revisited since? My first memory of a viral online video was “Aicha,” which premiered on Ebaum’s World, which now seems like forever ago.

It blows my mind that something so popular could be forgotten about so quickly. What if society treated all important things this way? We would be bored with the President the day after inauguration and we would only visit new restaurants once before seeking out trendier ones.

Why do we cling to these trends so tightly and then forget about them so quickly? Perhaps it’s because the world has transformed into an ADHD society where we always need to refresh the page. Maybe it’s because we are always overloaded with information, that our only option is to lose interest quickly to make room for the next trend or internet sensation.

Do we download these applications and games simply to follow the trend? Because we are a conformist society all just trying to fit in? In this type of society, the need to fit in is quickly satisfied, so we get bored so we are able to easily move onto the next trend without giving a damn. It takes at least two weeks for a viral video to reach its fullest potential and then it is forgotten about forever.

Do you remember the leprechaun scare in Mobile, Alabama? You do now.

The constant need to scroll to the top of our newsfeed to see what else is trending is not an uncommon emotion for the millennial generation. Perhaps it is because we have been conditioned to have a short attention span or because we feel the need to keep up with the virtual Joneses. Either way, in this fast-paced, ever-changing new world, we’d better get used to it. After all, the only thing that endures is change.