Can I…? A Look at Popular Social Media Challenges and Trends


Since it began, all forms of social media have taken off and influenced the world. Through Facebook to Instagram and TikTok, millions of people log in each day and see what is happening around the world. For many, social media is the main source of news, videos, how-to’s, books, and more. It is also the place where people can be influenced by other people’s lives and try to replicate what they see. One way for people to try and “copy” others on social media is through the various challenges and trends that have popped up online throughout the years. These videos and pictures are sometimes crazy, confusing, and can raise the question, “How do you do that?” Let’s explore some of the past social media challenges that an impressive number of people have tried.

  • The Harlem Shake: I remember watching videos of the Harlem Shake trend while in college. Popular during February 2013, the Harlem Shake can be described as a dance. One person would be in the middle of a group of people going about their ordinary lives. Then, during a certain part in the Harlem Shake song by Baauer, the whole group goes wild and breaks out into crazy moves.
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: One of the more well-known social media challenges is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Celebrities, athletes, politicians, and more took part in raising awareness and money for ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In this challenge, people would film themselves dumping buckets of ice water onto their heads and then tag others to do the same. One of the main purposes of the task was to encourage others to donate. According to the ALS Association, $115 million was raised by the challenge during the summer of 2014.
  • The Mannequin Challenge: First appearing in October 2016, the Mannequin Challenge had people standing like mannequins while being filmed with background music. It was very popular with athletes.
  • Bottle-Flipping Challenge: As a middle school teacher, this competition is still around today and can be very annoying. What you do is fill a plastic water bottle partway with water. Then, you toss it with the goal of having it land right-side up. Not much to it, yet, widely famous.
  • The Planking Challenge: This contest was even referenced on the T.V. show, The Office. Originating in 2008 and becoming well-known in 2010 and 2011, planking first started in Australia and quickly spread like wildfire through social media. All people do is lay flat on a surface, any surface, and share a picture of themselves. Let’s just say an Internet search can show some of the odder places people have planked, such as on top of store signs and on store shelves.
  • The Running Man Challenge: Many people know the Running Man as a famous dance. It was reinvented in March 2016 when the University of Maryland basketball players filmed themselves doing the said dance. The trend became a favorite among the NCAA, collegiate basketball teams, and baseball teams. In addition, the Running Man was made famous through Instagram, Twitter, and The Ellen Show. 
  • The Broom Challenge: Shortly before COVID-19 became the topic of discussion, the Broom Challenge was making waves on the Internet and fascinating many people. The task is pretty simple: get a broom to stand upright without leaning it against anything or anyone holding it up. There are many theories as to whether or not the Broom Challenge is actually true or fake. One now-debunked theory, is that the broom has a low center of gravity that allows it to stand on its bristles. Whatever caused it to happen or not, one thing is for sure: the challenge caused many people to scratch their heads and wonder how a broom stands on its bristles.

As social media continues to be present in our lives, the challenges will keep coming. Who knows, maybe a video or picture you and your friends posted of all of you doing something interesting will go viral and become the next popular trend.


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