Why Millennials Love Viral "Shit People Say" YouTube Videos

ByBrian Vandeputte

This article is adapted from an original post on The Next Great Generation.

People like things.

Sometimes, the things people say get made into hilarious YouTube videos or Twitter feeds that go viral and spawn a worldwide phenomenon based on particular stereotypes. 

We are the creation generation, and nothing is off limits. Why are we so good at being able to poke fun at ourselves? Is it because our generation is more open and self-aware of the quirks that each of us has? And by making fun of the elephant in the room, there is less ammunition to attack us with? (See Eminem in his final rap battle in 8 Mile.) Are we revealing the truth through observational humor?

With the world seemingly going to hell, we’ve injected humor into taboo subjects— breaking tension and bringing comedy in at a time when there is little to smile about. By revealing people’s tiny eccentricities, we shift our focus away from the negativity, and maybe, in some idealistic way, this makes the world a slightly more delightful place.

‘Shit My Dad Says’ was born from Tweets quoting Justin Halpern‘s 73-year-old father. The Harvard Sailing Team was made famous by trading gender roles for laughs. Most recently, 'Shit Girls Say' has spawned an entire sub-genre of similarly titled satirical You Tube videos.

In December, 2011, Toronto comedians Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey “were sitting around one day watching TV, and one of us said, 'Can you pass me that blanket?' It immediately struck us as a 'girl' thing to say. I know that sounds terrible. But we immediately started thinking about what that means, to have a saying attributed to a sex, and then we started going back and forth.”

From there, “girly” things to say spawned a number of notable derivatives. It’s not just one type of person imitating another, it’s a varied mix – proof that there’s something to make light-hearted fun of in all of us.

Despite their numerous offshoots, these popular videos (11 million hits!) have also attracted a fair share of controversy. Lynn Crosbie stressed the potentially offensive nature of the joke by saying women “are already sexualized to the maximum.” Naima Ramos-Chapman wrote in the Huffington Post that the ‘Shit Girls Say’ meme is sexist and racist and should end.”

There’s more than a bit of truth in all of the blogs and videos about the shit people say and like. We must be very aware and very good at listening to create a rolodex this big. 

Does this self-depreciating humor bring us together because there are elements in all of our lives that can be exploited for laughs? Does looking inward at the humor within us make it easier to face world around us?

Weigh in: What explains the 'Shit People Say' phenomenon? Why are these videos so popular with millennials? 

Photo Credit: TNGG