Why'd That Trend: Family Videos That Go Viral

March 21, 2011

This post was authored by Annemarie Dooling for Urlesque.com as a part of a new YouTube Trends series exploring viral video phenomena.

Last week a video of adorable little Emerson displaying shock and awe at his mom’s nose blowing antics vent viral; the 59 second video is little more than a close-up of his round face and has over 7 million views as of this post. Emerson is something special, but he’s hardly the first tyke to gain notoriety on YouTube.

Another tiny viral video star by the name of Micah, shot to stardom because his adorable laugh became the centerpiece of a video in which his pops rips a sheet of paper. An everyday normal activity that would put the family in stitches for hours becomes a national event when mom and dad are savvy enough to record it and upload it to the Internet. Their private family moment has suddenly gone viral, even prompting an appearance on the "Today" show.

Amateur video was recorded as early as the 1930’s and really shot to fame around 1965 when Kodak introduced Super 8 film, a product almost anyone could use. By the 1970’s, everyday family moments were shot, edited and debuted for the delight of relatives and friends around a casserole or microwave meal. Families were documenting science fairs and first steps. Having guests over to share your vacation, or your child’s first recorded word was a big deal. Today, we’re very lucky to be able to send that private moment to friends and family without the casseroles, the house cleaning and the crowded living rooms. We have personal moments halfway across the globe, but are the digital kids of 2011 really any different?

Emerson, Micah and all of the babies of YouTube are adorable. Plain and simple, these kids have a cute factor that pulls us away from the intense news and hard work of the day and allows us to laugh for a minute. They’re the widespread digital equivalent of the homecoming party, the chance to show off your adorable kin to the neighbors, on a much larger scale. For 59 seconds you’re connected to Emerson and his family. You’re a guest in their home and a witness to their private family moment. Home movies have gone viral and we’re the privileged houseguests.
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