On January 4, 2019, an account on Instagram with the handle @world_record_egg posted a picture of an egg. The first and only picture posted by the account is a picture of an egg against a white backdrop. The rest is literally history.
On January 13, 2019 that egg became the most liked post on Instagram by surpassing the 18.2 million likes on Kylie Jenner’s post announcing the birth of her daughter Stormi. The owner of the account and what to expect next both remain unknown. All we do know is a picture of an egg is enough to get over 7.5 million followers and 47 million likes.
That being said, there was also a narrative to the egg: specifically that it was posted with the intention of bypassing Kylie Jenner’s post. Whether the fact Kylie Jenner was the one to beat added to the trend is up for debate, but it certainly highlighted the general disdain many hold for the Kardashians.
The internet works in strange ways, but this occurrence should not surprise us. In 2017, 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson broke the record for the most retweeted tweet when he got over 2.5 million retweets by asking Wendy’s for a year’s worth of free nuggets.
Hearing stories like this force us to wonder about the power of crowdsourcing likes and retweets on the Internet. No one person can decide what goes viral, but each individual has the power to throw their weight behind a post or tweet. Eventually, obviously, when enough people like or retweet, the post will go viral.
There is no doubt the Internet is a strange place. If you manage to scratch just below the surface, you can find a treasure trove of – for lack of a better term – stuff. Most of us, however, only see what Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media websites want us to see. They develop algorithms that burp up whatever is going to earn themselves the most money, so people are forced to play their game and constantly put out new content that will keep people engaged.
That’s the beauty behind the egg: it doesn’t play the game. It doesn’t offer anyone anything. We all collectively agreed that we liked the random lack of necessity and worked together to make it the most liked post on Instagram.
Feats like this remind us of the dual worlds in which we live: reality and the Internet. The life of the egg will be wholly lived through social media and people’s phone screens. It will have no bearing on anything remotely significant in our world, and yet to me and most of my generation, this has been one of the biggest events of the year so far (yes, I know we’re only three weeks in).
What the Internet will give us next is beyond me, but rest assured knowing that it will be unexpectedly expected. For now, enjoy the enormous amounts of media that will result from the egg.