The Tipping Point to Popularity

by Nita Kulkarni

“What exactly made selfies so popular?” is something you may have wondered. But selfies aren’t the only things that have mysteriously penetrated pop culture. Remember when mustaches were “the thing”? Same with duct tape and Flappy bird. How do all these things get so popular?

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for a year, you are probably aware of people’s obsession with selfies these days. Did you know that a selfie uploaded with a group of people is known as a “super selfie?” In November 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary announced the word “selfie” as the word of the year! It became popular in the 1900s when a woman took a picture of herself in the mirror and showed it to her friends. In fact, they even teach classes now on how to take a better selfie.



Similarly, Flappy bird was so popular because of its addictive objectives. In fact, it was so addictive, it had to be taken off of the app store and was added back on later, in a less addictive form. When it was removed, there were many different versions made such as Fall Out Boy’s “Fall Out Bird” and Sesame Street’s “Flappy Bert.” Did you know it only took two to three days to create and develop Flappy bird, and it was based off of Angry Birds?


What’s behind the modern-day mustache mania? They just popped into our world from what seems like nowhere! Apparently many people just loved the look of mustaches. Now there is even an official fake mustache day celebrated on February 3rd.


How about duct tape? says it all started because a strong, flexible, waterproof tape was needed in World War II to seal canisters, cracked windows, and trucks. Later, people used a medical tape as base and other adhesives, which ultimately resulted in duct tape. It was nicknamed “Duck tape” for its ability to repel water. Now, it is used to decorate and fix things.



Tha saying “YOLO” got popular through its incorporation in many songs. For example, it was used in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Clavigo as the title of a waltz “Man Lebt Nur Einmal,” meaning “you only live once” in French. Even Zac Efron has a tattoo saying YOLO.


The word “swag” has quite a few meanings. One of those dates back to the 1800s, and it means “stolen goods.” But nowadays it’s used as a synonym of “cool,” after being mentioned in songs such as “All I Need” by Jay-Z (much like the dawn of YOLO). Justin Bieber also included a version of it in his song “Boyfriend.” “Swag” has penetrated Instagram and even everyday language!


Imagine you were living in the 1900s. Would you have ever expected to see people taking pictures of themselves, drawing on fake mustaches for fun, or using heavy-duty tape to make things pretty?

What do you think will become popular next? Let us know in the comments below!

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