The new freaky monsters of web 2.0

These individuals are part of the last and biggest buzzes on Internet. They have made their own popularity by posting and by sharing content. A very specific type of content: home-made webcam videos. In fact, they are the producer, distributor and actor of their own story. They wanted to be known on Internet for their wisdom or their useful tips; they are only known for being ridiculous. Where many others have failed because their videos have been remaining ignored by Internet users, they have become very popular, but not in the way they wanted. Today we can find lots of examples of such productions, but in this study we are going to illustrate our comment by two stories of this type: Jean-Pierre Herlant and Joharno, who are part of the new freaky monsters of web 2.0.

The very specificity of these buzzes is that they have appeared directly through the canal of social medias, and not before that in newspapers, on radio or on TV. YouTube at first, but then also Twitter and Facebook are the main platforms where they have spread and reached a very large audience of Internet users. Let’s begin with this singular characteristic.

The birth and spread of buzzes

The process for these videos to become buzzes is quite easy to understand:

  • At the beginning, the specific content sharers we are talking about have post their videos in totally free access on social networks as YouTube –and sometimes, as Joharno, on their personal blog –where they usually have received a high quantity of comments once their videos watched by many visitors (YouTube makes it easier by displaying the newest videos on the homepage of every user or classifying them by topics). Then these videos have quickly reached the top rank of popularity and have been viewed by more and more visitors.

    (1) The profile of Jean-Pierre Herlant on YouTube, 3318107 views on the total of posted videos, 271488 views for the most viewed(2) The videos available on the blog of Joharno, 375813 views for the most viewed of his videos on YouTube
  • Logically, they have spread to the main social medias as Facebook or Twitter trough the display of tweets and retweets, direct links, groups and pages, what allows many more Internet users to come to YouTube and watch them.

    (1)The Twitter of Joharno (about 100 followers) with tweets to his latest videos: is it a fake? However, there are several tweets and re-tweets from other users linking to these same videos available on YouTube or on Joharno’s blog(2)Jean-Pierre Herlant on Facebook: 123 different groups and pages and 14501 fans in the most popular of them
  • Once their popularity is established, these videos have been related as new trends on the blogosphere and on other opinion websites with direct links to the content on YouTube. And then they have finally reached traditional medias, mainly through their online pages, but sometimes also directly on print newspapers, radios or TVs if the buzz was strong enough and lasted enough time.



    (1) The first traditional media to have spoken about Jean-Pierre Herlant is the radio Virgin, overall by making fun about him; the comments of the moderator Daniel Guillon have even received a rough answer of Jean-Pierre on a new video posted on YouTube
    (2)Joharno in traditional medias, after the buzz of his videos on YouTube

The nature of the content: the new “Elephantmen”

We have just seen the way these buzzes are created and develop, but it doesn’t tell anything about the nature of the content itself nore about the intentions of the concerned creators. Why have these videos such a great impact on social medias? Why did they become buzzes after a few time online?

With the evolution of Internet to web 2.0, we know that everybody today has become a potential content creator. In other words, this situation gives to everybody the possibility to express his feelings or his thoughts worldwide through the web. That is just the point with the stories we are talking about. The content sharers may not be able to speech to a whole community in current life (offline) and now this option is given to them online. Thus, they have risen themselves to the status of opinion leaders and have tried to influence directly connected people with their home-made videos. Their purpose is to transmit experienced tips or even a whole vision of life, of course supposed to be truthful and useful. Some of them have been commenting actualities or singular topics of everyday life and expressing philosophical thoughts (like Joharno) and others spreading online the way to talk to a woman or insulting politics (like Jean-Pierre Herlant). Here are two of their most viewed videos:

Of course, the videos which become buzzes are the most ridiculous, and not the most useful or the cleverest. And their creators become the last freaky monsters of Internet, and not gurus or spiritual guides as they wanted. Once the irony spread through Internet, the reactions are very different depending on the personality of each. Jean-Pierre Herlant stopped to create videos because too many people were displaying bad comments or making fun about him (he announced it on Twitter). Since that day, he has been forgotten. But for Joharno, this was a great opportunity to be known as a “legend” –as he says himself –on the web: till 2009, when some of his videos were discovered and propelled on the social networks, he has been keeping on sharing content on his blog and on YouTube. He created his own mark! Joharno’s videos are now more humoristic, why he is trying to keep his popularity. But it doesn’t fit: being intentionally stupid doesn’t seem to work so well. Joharno decided to be the only “legend” on YouTube and begun to clash on his videos other content sharers who had become buzzes like him. And today the war for YouTube and Facebook “fans” and for the highest number of views is going on.

Two different worlds

How have been these content sharers innocent enough to post such videos on the web? We can suppose that some of them are a few mentally disabled, but that is not sure at all. What is sure is that they all have a bad understanding of Internet world: it is not a world of opinion leaders, but one in which everybody can build his own points of view individually. Thus, there is an epistemological rupture between their expectations and the reality of the web. We can see it especially among the comments they receive under their videos: the very big majority of them are insults, sarcasms or demonstrations of pity. It is the same with most of the tweets and groups or pages created around them on Facebook.

Gilles D’Andrès

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