On the right you can see a bell curve. I am going to call this the “Harlem Shake Bell Curve.” On Sunday (02/17) evening, I did some research on this phenomenon. Like the flash mob craze before it, the Harlem Shake will soon be a figment of our imagination that only lives on through youtube videos.
Everyone and their mother is creating a Harlem Shake video for some reason. Colleges and Universities are breaking their ankles jumping on the bandwagon to join in on this soon to be fleeting fad. I am not quite sure why. After watching 30 minutes of compilation of the “best” Harlem Shake videos, I have no clue how this helps an institution in anyway whatsoever, besides trying to be a part of the Harlem Shake Bell Curve.
So let’s get to the graph above. We’ll start with the far right and move to the left. These are the early adopters. These are the people who started the craze. This section are those who came up with the idea and uploaded the first videos. They set the tone for all the rest. The blue section are those who saw these first videos and said that they could do it better. They shared the video with their friends who then saw the Harlem Shake Zero Patient. It continued to grow as people started sharing more and more. The green area is where student organizations began jumping in on the Harlem Shake craze because students are attuned to the pulse of what is viral.
The first red section (still going right to left) is where institutions start to get in on the fad. They see students watching the videos and decide, “We should do this because students watch these videos and then they might want to come to our school because we are funky fresh.” The first couple of schools start shooting these videos and then their sister institutions don’t want to be left behind and therefore the entire higher education world HAS to have a Harlem Shake video as if the Princeton Review rankings will have a new section to highlight the best higher ed Harlem Shake videos. We have now crossed into the second red section where everyone has a Harlem Shake video of some sort. Some are extremely well produced others are “we did it because we had to do it.”
We start to enter the tail end of the bell curve. Students stop watching the videos because they realize how annoying the song by Baauer actually is. The comedic aspect of the video becomes less and less funny. Schools run out of ideas to keep the concept fresh. The market is overly flooded with Harlem Shake videos so people become numb. However, schools are slow on the uptake so they decided to keep pumping them out even though no one is watching. Next thing you know it is two years later and we are approaching the 0 on both the x- and y-axis and a leadership development office decides they should do a Harlem Shake video to be on the “cutting edge” of marketing for their office.