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BIG LIST: Internet sensations

Monday 27 June 2011, 10:55PM


Internet fame can be fleeting, and while “planking” may be the latest craze, here are a few others you may (or may not) remember.

Dancing Baby

Also known as “Baby Cha-Cha”, this video file of an animated, 3D-rendered baby dancing for several seconds is one of the earliest examples of an Internet phenomenon.

Originating as a motion capture demo file for the 3D Studio Max modelling program, it became hugely popular between 1996-1997 after being distributed widely over the Internet. Several edited versions and parodies were created shortly thereafter.

Tourist guy

The tourist guy, also known as “the accidental tourist”, “Waldo”, “WTC Guy”, or “tourist of death”, is an Internet phenomenon consisting of a photograph of a tourist (Péter Guzli) that has appeared in many digitally-altered pictures after the September 11 attacks, usually in unfortunate situations (such as on top of the Twin Towers as a plane approaches).

As its fame spread, other people started to use the same tourist for other pictures. They included the tourist present at the sinking of the Titanic, at the John F. Kennedy assassination, the destruction of Air France Flight 4590 and at the Hindenburg disaster.

Save Toby

Save Toby was a humour website which involved a rabbit named Toby being held “hostage”. The site’s proprietor claimed to have found Toby injured outside his home and nursed him back to health. He claimed on the website that unless US$50,000 (B1.5 million) was donated through the website, he would have Toby killed and prepared as a meal.

The owner of eventually bought the website and Toby was “saved”, but not before US$28,000 (B850,000) was reportedly donated by members of the public.

Urban legend website indicates that the website was a hoax, though the money paid was very real.

The Million Dollar Homepage

The Million Dollar Homepage was a website conceived by Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from Wiltshire, England, to help raise money for his university education.

Laguna Golf Phuket

The index page of the site consists of a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid (one million pixels), on which he sold image-based links for US$1 per pixel, in minimum 10 by 10 blocks.

On January 1, 2006, the final 1,000 pixels left were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on January 11 with the winning bid of US$38,100.00 (B1.2 million), bringing his gross income for the site to US$1,037,100 (B31 million).

Chuck Norris Facts

Norris has been the object of an internet phenomenon known as Chuck Norris Facts documenting and proclaiming fictional, often heroic feats and characteristics, which began to circulate in late 2005.

Some of them:

  • Chuck Norris died 20 years ago. Death just hasn’t worked up the courage to tell him yet.

  • Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris.

  • When the boogeyman goes to sleep each night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Norris has written his own response to the parody on his website, stating that he does not feel offended by them (which is perhaps fortunate: “Chuck Norris does not own a stove, oven, or microwave, because revenge is a dish best served cold”), and finds some of them funny.


An explosively popular phenomenon, lolcats are basically just photos of cats, usually in unusual positions or with unusual expressions, and given a caption in “lolspeak”. These captions might look completely random, but they actually have some popular sentence structures and may even contain other memes.

Meme is defined as “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

Epic Fail

While fail is normally used as a verb, on the internet it has become a noun. It is used to denote a spectacular failure of some sort – usually involving images of videos of people making an embarrassing mistake.

While fail may be labelled more like internet slang than a meme, it has spawned thousands of images and videos. Fail blog, a website dedicated to sharing fail photos and other images, is probably the most popular source.



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