Since Al Gore gave us the internet so many years back it has brought us many things.
Granted, I know that Al Gore did not invent the internet but who am I to burst the man’s bubble since he so famously said that he did?
While for the most part the internet is a positive thing there are certainly many negative aspects to avoid while navigating along the information super highway. And while the internet is certainly not going anywhere it is up to each of us to do our part to ensure that is kept pristine for future generations.
Think of the internet as a more visited National Park with each of us acting as Park Rangers to safe guard it if you will.
So, fellow internet Park Rangers the time has come to pull the weeds known as viral videos.
Just the very name makes it sound like something in need of a serious dose of antibiotic. Of course like most virus strains viral videos have morphed through the years from videos of cats playing the piano into something far more deadly.
While a viral video was once some that just organically happened from friends sharing a video over and over again it has now become a marketing tool with companies trying to “create” the next viral sensation in their marketing lab.
To me this is where the viral video went wrong and needs to be eradicated. By “creating” a viral video with the express purpose of becoming viral one takes out the entire accidental discovery of previous viral videos.
And now with all of the created video viruses out there I am now even more skeptical than usual when it comes to watching videos on the web. Of course that added skepticism is not entirely a bad thing.
The other day I was sent a link from a coworker regarding a wedding proposal gone wrong at a Minor League Baseball game in Connecticut. In the video a man asks a woman to marry him, as ballpark proposals often start, and then instead of her saying yes which occurs 99 percent of the time, she says no to the utter dismay of the assembled crowd in the stands.
Okay, so one could just leave it at that and think that the guy probably should have made sure that she was into the idea of marriage before popping the question in front of 5,500 strangers at a Double-A ballpark.
The video did not end there as the woman who had seemingly broken the man’s heart runs away into the stands.
Again, one could argue that she was embarrassed from the experience and wanted to get off of the field as quickly as possible. But then the man runs off of the field as well but instead of chasing after her he runs into the home dugout and then down the tunnel into the clubhouse.
This of course threw up huge red flags for me and I told my coworker that the video was definitely staged since no professional sports franchise would let an average fan just run down the tunnel into their clubhouse and/or locker room.
Sure enough the next day it was revealed that the video was as fake as a $4 bill and that the man and woman were members of the team’s marketing staff.
While the video certainly drew attention to the fact that the Minnesota Twins have a Double-A affiliate in Connecticut it certainly can’t make the parent club happy that the marketing staff is going around faking marriage proposals for the sake of publicity.
Then again there is that old saying about all publicity being good publicity.
As a side note, having grown up watching the Orlando Twins when they were the Double-A Affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, I had often wondered where they went after leaving Tinker Field and thanks to the viral video I now know.
There are of course other examples of fake videos making the rounds from NASCAR drivers in disguise as people on test drives, etc.
Usually there are elements in the videos that are so obviously staged that it is easy for me to tell that the videos are fake.
In the instance of the Jeff Gordon in disguise video there are tons of red flags to show that the video is fake so they are not really deceiving the consumer since anyone with have a mind should see right through it.
The danger becomes when consumers miss the warning signs and consider the videos real. While advertisers have been deceiving customers for some degree to sell their products for years it seems like we are entering a whole new level of deception where the lines between reality and fantasy get blurrier by the day.
The internet will never be free of the viral video outbreak but hopefully with more discerning eyes consumers will not fall into their trap and will instead focus their attention on other things like those cats playing piano.
And to the next Minor League Baseball team wanting to make a name for itself through a video sensation history is full of so many other promotion ideas that don’t begin with deceiving the paying customers in the stands in the name of viral video infamy.
Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk of viral videos has me feeling like I should check my temperature to make sure that I didn’t catch anything.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson