Best viral videos and moments of 2018

We plot humanity’s way through the year using the most popular videos

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The term “viral video” is something most people over the age of 15 avoid studiously, but it can be hard to escape some of the most noteworthy examples.

While they start on Facebook or YouTube, viral videos affect all of us. Some of the videos get discussed on national radio or newspapers, or are cumulations of years of pent-up feelings and ideas. In a way, doesn’t that make them an important part of who we are in 2018?

Here’s a collection of the most important viral videos and moments from the past year.

David Schwimmer shoplifts in Blackpool

When CCTV caught a doppelgänger of Friends star David Schwimmer stealing a case of beers from a store in Blackpool, the internet was greatly amused with the idea of Ross Geller falling on hard times. Schwimmer even got in on the action, contributing an airtight alibi viral video to prove he definitely wasn’t stealing beer from a store in Blackpool.

Schwimmer, for his part, hasn’t had quite the post-Friends success enjoyed by his co-stars, making an illicit beer heist all the more believable.

Yodelling Walmart kid

While Drake’s “God’s Plan” is currently the biggest song of the year according to UK charts (at time of writing), the most beloved song came to us from a viral video of young Mason Ramsey in a Walmart in Harrisburg, Illinois.

In it he yodels the song “Lovesick Blues” by Hank Williams, using a vocal range most singers can’t even reach. It’s cute and endearing, and a nice change of pace given the majority of news that comes from America. It even caused “Lovesick Blues” to reach #4 in Spotify’s global charts, and got the kid performing at Coachella and on Ellen Degeneres’ TV show.

Yanny or Laurel?

By far the most annoying viral video moment to come in 2018 is its equivalent to The Dress.

In the video, a voice repeats a — word? sound? guttural cry? — that sounds like either “Yanny” or “Laurel”. The internet quickly split itself into groups, divided into die-hard “Yanny” fans or uncompromising “Laurel” listeners. According to science, your interpretation depends on many factors including age and first language, although real intellectuals will know that the sound doesn’t resemble either of those names.

Bouncy DVD logo finally reaches corner

After a year of Brexit, Article 13, and more data breaches than you can shake an iPhone at, what better catharsis to end the year than this wholesome viral video moment?

DVD screensavers, which bounce about the screen changing colours, are noted for very rarely actually reaching the corners. However in a UK pub, a crowd of onlookers got to witness the rare miracle, and they celebrated in a fitting fashion. It’s a lovely reminder that although tech can scare and alienate us, it can also bring us together.

YouTube Rewind’s massive backlash

While you may be perplexed that YouTube Rewind’s 2018 video is on a “best” viral video list, since it’s actually the most disliked video ever on the platform, this hatred itself is the interesting social “moment”.

YouTube Rewind is traditionally a yearly round-up of the platform’s biggest names collaborating to create a horribly embarrassing video. However in 2018 YouTube has pushed its “family-friendly” (or, more accurately, advertiser friendly) brand to the point where most of its most noteworthy creators were excluded. This is because many of them have turned out to be huge racists or mind-bogglingly insensitive, although the platform has also taken steps to purge those who discuss or create LGBT content. As a result, none of the major content creators on the platform were included in the video, and a group of relative nobodies representing a hugely disparate swathe of the platform’s community were left to helm the project.

The backlash to YouTube Rewind highlights the problems the video platform is having in mediating its work, with racists allowed to operate yet those discussing their own identity banned, and the way the platform’s love of advertising revenue has caused it to alienate it from its roots. By reacting so negatively, the YouTube audience is demanding action for all the problems with the platform. The video is incredibly annoying too though, so view it at your own discretion.

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