5 of the Most Absurd Trends We’ve Seen Online Recently

  • Text Izzi Sneider
  • Design Jasmine Bae

As the attention economy grows more saturated, creators must work harder to stand out in the scroll. Creators who strive for internet notoriety and quick virality are encouraged to reach new extremes to vie for recognition— consistently one-upping themselves and pushing their content into increasingly niche, absurd, and dramatic realms. No longer is it enough to share quality content. Instead, some creators hope stunts will help them find their 15 minutes of fame. The “go bigger” attitude online has created a seemingly endless cycle of “trends” that cannibalize and caricaturize themselves to astonishing degrees. The trend cycle today doesn’t even mean anything anymore— no longer does it indicate the wants and collective mindset of entire communities; rather, it indicates the current thirst for internet fame— whether viewed positively or not. The internet is getting weirder and less weird—at the same time, in different ways—and it’s more complicated than ever to navigate the virtual landscape.

At D1A, it’s our job to trudge through the engagement bait and find meaning in the precarious alleyways of the virtual space, so we’ve compiled some of the weirdest internet fads we’ve seen along the way. While we wouldn’t recommend any of these to our clients, we can learn something from each trend.

No.1 Primal Parkour

While there is no shortage of health and wellness lifestyle content on social media, it’s a space full of trends and scams and schemes—like Brittany Dawn’s impersonal training, the Liver King’s alleged meal plan, and Khloé Kardashian’s Revenge Body, just to name a few—creators Leo Urban and Victor Fleites might just take the cake (or…the banana…) with their Tarzan-inspired workouts, meant to promote the Primal lifestyle. Is it a grift? It’s hard to say for sure, but given the collective two million followers that these creators have amassed, it’s clear that Americans are hungry for a sustainable health regime, even if it means cosplaying as a primate. If you’d like to test it out, you can attend Fleites’ “fully immersive” outdoor Tarzan Retreat for the low price of 1500 euros or Dominick Cole’s 2400 USD Modern Tarzan retreat. If you attend, let me know how many trees you climb.

No.2 GlycineTok

Whether you’re in the industrial, pharmaceutical, or food-grade glycine market, you’ve probably heard of TikTok’s favorite Chinese-based chemical manufacturer, Donghua Jinlong.

After a post made by what appears to be the company’s account went unexpectedly viral on the platform, users across the internet enthusiastically engaged in the trend, making their edits and memes out of Donghua Jinlong’s advertisements. As of this writing there are over 1,500 videos under the #donghaujinlong hashtag alone, while the most popular video on the company’s page boasts over 1.8 million views.

This trend appears on our screens while TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, faces a ban due to its potential ties to the Chinese government which makes this trend an unofficial critique of US-China relations as well as the state of advertising on social media. Of course, as user @janedoe0018 noted, “We are dangerously close to this trend being played in front of Congress as evidence that the US population has been brainwashed by China, so keep that one in mind, please. Anyways, when are you guys buying your glycine?”

@citiesbydiana Let's clear up some MYTHS about Donghua Jinlong and their "competitors"....@Macey your move bestie.... Since 1979, Donghua Jinlong has been providing the highest quality food grade, industrial grade and pharmaceutical grade glycine. Unlock 2024s BEST glycine supplier: DONGHUA JINLONG #donghuajinlong #glycine #brainrot #bestglycine #brainnourishment #industrialglycine #glycinetok #donghuajinlongtok #industrialglycine #satire ♬ original sound - 𝘿𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖

No.3 The Veneer Side Hustle

With the rise of social media influencers who promote elective beauty treatments, western beauty standards have become increasingly high. At the same time, cosmetic procedures like lip filler and botox are becoming more accessible and cost-effective— thanks to technological advances, an influx of medical spas and estheticians trained to work with injectables, franchises that offer payment plans or Groupon deals, and plastic surgeons who also create content—allowing us regular folk to afford beauty treatments previously reserved for A-listers.

Veneers, however, have understandably continued to come with a hefty price tag, often costing upwards of $4,000 per tooth. So some creators have attempted to capitalize on the desire for cheap teeth. On TikTok, creators like Atlanta Veneer Specialists and Rellstyles, are offering “veneer classes” to teach unqualified people how to shave down natural teeth and permanently install new veneers on real people, for the low price of $2,500 for the weekend course. The issue? Veneers are expensive for a reason, and many of these “deals” come with less than satisfying results and sometimes turn out to be outright scams. As it turns out, not everything should be sold on the TikTok Shop.

@tybabira88 Could of bought some golds and it lasted longer @princesskutz #fypシ #studsdoitbetter🌈 #fypシ #fyp #fypage #veneers #smh ♬ Grillz - Road Demonz

No.4 Kitchen Nightmares

Warning: It’s worse than Gordon Ramsay’s version.

Recipe videos have been a mainstay on social media since you could first stream videos. But in today's competitive attention economy, recipe videos must get weirder to break through the constant sludge of content. Users like Super Recipes and YumMakers have found notoriety by creating completely repulsive meals on TikTok. Each recipe video is an apparent bid at rage bait, full of rehydrated potato chips, condensed milk, and copious eggs.

Back in 2018, Tasty videos— each consisting of layers upon layers of various meats and cheeses— dominated Facebook by inspiring confusion and occasional disgust. But today’s dinner horrors make Tasty’s cheesy casseroles seem almost palatable compared to the atrocities floating around YouTube Shorts today. Regardless, I cannot stop watching, eagerly awaiting the next culinary crime.

No.5 Boyfriend POVs

While POV content has become a mainstay on video-based social media platforms, former e-boys have discovered that by leveraging their conventionally attractive looks and leaning into the romantic fantasies of their audience— made up of primarily teenage girls— viewers will flock to the videos like moths to blue light-emitting flames. Boyfriend-themed POV content, popularized by creators like Garett Nolan and Birlap, consists of acting out one side of a conversation between a couple and can range from wholesome and fun-loving to toxicity roleplaying. For some people, there is something incredibly uncanny and unsettling about content like this, but for others, it’s a transportive experience that allows them to feel loved and valued by someone they have a crush on. And that isn’t surprising, considering Gen Z’s well-documented struggles with dating and desire to feel less lonely. I’d rather try my luck getting dates with someone I have more than a parasocial relationship with.

The internet is often a place of extremes. With enough time, trends tend to snowball into monstrous versions of themselves, articulate opinions spiral into un-nuanced hot-takes, and candid moments lend themselves to cheap recreations by creators too clumsy and impatient to turn their ambitions into creativity and consistency. Today, the word “trend” gets used so frequently that it has become a catch-all justification for recreating content with an uptrending engagement rate. This mounting pressure to constantly one-up previous content has made understanding consumer needs more critical. For brands, it is imperative to decipher between the click-bait garbage trends, the trends just for fun, and the ones that actually make sense for a brand activation to create successful work. Or, I guess we could always find a primate gym bro to partner with.