Fidget spinner: How it became the king of the internet
Let’s analyze the dynamic of the fidget spinner an understand how and why it became viral
Stores can’t keep them in stock. Parents are scrambling to find them. And some schools have banned them.
The mania for fidget spinners — the 3-inch twirling gadgets taking over classrooms and cubicles — is unlike many other toy crazes.
They’re not made by a major company, timed for the holiday season, or promoted in TV commercials. They’re more easily found at gas stations or 7-Eleven than at big toy chains.
In January 2017, barely anyone knew what a fidget spinner was. Most fidgeters would resort to either clicking re-tractable pens or flip them through their fingers, while others would twirl their hair and bite their nails to stay busy.
The nature of fidgeting is nothing new. In fact, most of us have heard our parents plead with us, “STOP FIDGETING”.
Let’s start from the beginning
What is it for?
It is designed to help people focus better by releasing psychological stress. The Fidget spinner is a toy that spins with little effort. You operate the gadget by holding onto the middle while it spins.
These small devices that can be rotated between users’ fingers provide a satisfying sensory experience to people and have created a whole lot of YouTube tutorials on how they work and how best to spin them.
HOW IT WENT VIRAL
To digest the sudden virality of fidget spinners, let’s dissect it piece by piece. Starting things off with definition, fidget is defined as small movements made by hands or feet due to stress, nervousness, or impatience and is normally symptoms of those with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder).
Though not supported by any scientific research, fidget spinners are marketed as a solution for those with anxiety, stress, or ADHD promising greater concentration and creativity through stress release.
These claims were soon rebutted by experts such as Mark Rapport, a clinical psychologist at the University of Central Florid, by saying that “Using a spinner-like gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with ADHD”.
I don’t know whether these claims are true or not, but what I know is that fidget spinners’ popularity did spread like wildfire.
The Fidget spinner wasinside a viral loop
How viral loops create themselves
Here it is. That’s how viral loops work:
- A person is exposed to an idea. Usually, this happens through social media and messaging platforms
- The idea evokes a reaction in the person. This is the most important factor, also called key factor.
- The person, usually willingly helps spread this idea. With social media, this is massively amplified thanks to likes, comments, and shares.
- This causes that more and more people are exposed to that idea.
- Each new person has the potential to react to the idea and help it spread to others as well. (The same process happens as in point 2 and 3)
- The process repeats itself over and over again.