Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be yet another llama and dress article. It’s going to start fun, then get serious, followed by an optomistic ending. Here we go.
It seemed a fairly normal end to the week: I was wrapping up some work and getting excited about the release of the new season of “House of Cards.”
And then, literally out of nowhere, llamas! On Thursday, Feb. 26, a day that will surely go down in history, two llamas ran wild in Sun City, Arizona. The internet exploded as it watched these two llamas walk and prance around for about a half-hour, until they were finally corralled and returned. They were now undoubtedly the coolest llamas in the club.
Shockingly, the story got better: there were actually three llamas in the trailer, but only two of them decided to take advantage of the open door. I imagine the third llama is feeling slightly self-conscious these past few days, having to deal with his two dare-devil friends.
Here’s a pretty staggering figure: At it’s highest point, there were over 3,000 tweets about the llamas per minute. Three thousand.
Yet, less than 24 hours later, #TheDress tripled that number. Over 10,000 tweets per minute were written about a blue and black — or was it white and gold? — dress, which had people all over the world freaking out.
How did this happen? Here’s a quick summary: Someone on Tumblr posted the image, asking other users to clarify what color the dress actually was. I’m not going to get into the hundreds of different theories and explanations, or what color the dress actually is (psst — it’s blue and black, come on), but currently, the dress has been the inspiration for over 11 million tweets worldwide.
Even these most recent trends can barely stack up to some of the most popular twitter movements of all time. Remember everyone’s favorite “Left Shark” from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time show? He topped out at 284,000 tweets per minute. The most tweeted moment of last year was Germany’s World Cup victory, which led to around 618,000 tweets a minute.
So what does all this mean? Is it good news or bad news? Should we be impressed or ashamed?
Inevitably, when events such as these start trending, there are those who embrace the popularity and those who despise it. Obviously, there are much more important things happening around the world, both positive and negative, that we can (and should) bring this level of attention to. Twitter can be, and has been, a major force throughout the world. The #BringBackOurGirls movement, calling for the safe return of over 200 school-girls who had been kidnapped in Nigeria, prompted millions of tweets. Huge numbers of tweets have also been sent out in support of the Hong Kong protests of last year, and Twitter played a major role in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.
On the other hand, there is something about those numbers that’s pretty incredible. If you step back and look at it, the fact that millions of people can contribute to the same discussion in just a few days is astonishing. And while two llamas and a dress may not be the most important things in the world, they are fun and interesting to talk about. Take, for instance, the picture Ellen DeGeneres tweeted during the 2014 Academy Awards — which is one of the most popular tweets of all time, with almost 3.4 million retweets: it’s a selfie with a handful of celebrities, all with big smiles on their faces. It’s a captured moment of joy, which can be shared with millions across the globe.
With all the negative news out there, stories such as these help to balance out an otherwise bleak and often depressing news landscape. The negative reputation that the internet receives is sometimes justified. But ultimately, having millions of people able to share in the joy that those two llamas undoubtedly felt, seems to tip the scales in a positive favor.