What color Llamas do you see? - How things go viral on the internet

by Shiv Sharma / February 27, 2015

The internet is having a meltdown today. #LlamaChase and #TheDress are trending worldwide. I plead guilty to adding to this chaos. Because- Why not!

Two things are taking the social media by storm. You know them as well as I do.

First of all, it’s this question about what color dress do you see? People have been divided into two camps:

First one arguing that it’s black and blue, the second one believing that it’s white and gold.

Just the fact that it involves your primary senses, and that it being wrong makes you special (or deranged) excited a lot of people. Which is why you have probably heard about it already. If you are still figuring out why you felt that way, WIRED.com has provided a really good explanation to it.

what color is this dress

Well, if you are still thinking about it and would like something to mess up your head even more, this video from VSauce video might be worth a watch. Even though its core idea is different from the “dress mania”, you’ll get a great idea about how we humans perceive things.


There’s another video that I am pretty sure you have watched already. It’s about the two Llamas that escaped in Sun City, Arizona and gave a pretty hard time to the local police before being captured.

Here’s the video, just in case you weren’t too active on social media today.


Now that I have restored your contact with our civilization, let’s take a moment to soak it all in and think about it. Imagine if an alien was visiting us today and he would have witnessed it, despite all his research on human civilization and human psychology, he would have failed to understand what made both these news items explode like this. On second thoughts, in the little green guy’s defense, this logic lies even beyond us.

However let’s try to understand it. In all the researches that have been done around the world on how to create viral content, one conclusion appears almost unanimously, which is- “There is No Answer”. If there was a rationale behind creating viral content, something which could be achieved with resources then all the mega corporations would have mastered it by now.

Of course having resources helps, but most of the viral content on the internet comes from unlikeliest sources.

People share content when they feel that it reflects their personality in a way which cannot be expressed by anything else. You are feeling sad, you don’t know the right words to express it. You are not even sure if you want to express it. You come across a quote or a song which just hits captures the moment. You share it. You share it because it’s personal.

We all share witty content don’t we? If we find something which is clever in a funny way, we end up sharing it more often than not. Your social media shares are an extension of your personality. So if you can mooch of some wit to add to your personality, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t. The same also holds true if you go completely on the other end of the spectrum. If you read/watch something which is funny in a completely silly way, the internet has taught us that you’ll share it. It can be a pedestrian photobombing a news reporter or a couple of Llamas running in the streets of Arizona.

The people shared the images of the blue/back (okay the white/gold) dress because they were fascinated. It appealed to the emotion that lies at the core of human beings- curiosity. Similarly people also share content when they are disturbed by it. When they can’t understand why the world doesn’t always work in coherence with their beliefs (or morality).

So as an active social media enthusiast and a voice in this chaotic discourse, I believe that the content gets viral when it completely hits the core of a human emotion. You can’t just touch upon a feeling, you have to go the whole way with it.

Subscribe to newsletter