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Decoding Why Cringe Content is Taking Over The Internet?

5 influencers on Instagram including those termed as cringe by the audience Shifali Pandey, Deepika Singh, Chahat Fateh Ali Khan

Warning: HIGHLY addictive cringe content ahead!

The internet these days is 50% cute animal videos and 50% cringe compilations that make you want to hide under the covers. But admit it—you secretly watch these videos instead of just ignoring them, don’t you?

So, why can’t we look away? Let’s dive into this curious “why” and decode why cringe content rises.

It’s gonna get awkward!

Table of Contents

  1. What is Cringe Content?
  2. What Makes a Content Viral?
  3. Why Do We Find Cringe Content Appealing?
  4. The Rise of Cringe Content & Its Impact
  5. Can Cringe Be Used in Marketing?
  6. Conclusion
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cringe Content?

Five letters, one word and an emotion we all know too well: cringe. According to Google, cringing is the act of feeling humiliated and guilty over something. But cringe content isn’t new. The term “cringe” has roots in old English, where “cringan” meant “to fall, to yield in battle, to give way, to become bent, to curl up.

In the 16th century, “cringan” evolved into “cringe,” connecting shame and terror with “bending” or “crouching.” By the 19th century, the definition was solidified. Think of it like a traffic accident—you can’t help but peek.

Think of content like videos of Chaht Fateh Ali Khan’s offbeat singing, Shifali Pandey’s bizarre reels where she dances or crawls on the floor with no storyline, or Dhinchak Pooja’s infamous music videos like “Selfie Maine Leli Aaj.” These are the epitome of cringe content.

What Makes a Content Viral?

Why do such videos go viral? If you check the comment sections, people roast, bash and make fun of these videos, yet they still watch them. In the comments, people often admit, “I don’t know why I watch such videos till the end”.

Let’s decode this by understanding what makes content viral. Here are five key points:

1. Trigger an emotion

The content has to trigger anything from guilt and anger to laughter and frustration. Think of it as pressing the right buttons to make people react. For example, a video showing an influencer pulling a bizarre prank might evoke a mix of laughter and frustration. It makes people want to share their reactions with friends and family, spreading the content further.

2. Shock value

Unexpected endings, controversies, twists or even clickbait can grab attention and keep viewers hooked. Think about videos with unexpected plot twists or those involving controversial topics. These elements surprise viewers, making them more likely to share the content.

For example, in the comment section of this video, people have humorously written that they knew she would suddenly attack

3. The person

The individual creating the content matters greatly. They need to be either extremely likeable or so unlikeable that you can’t look away. People with strong personalities, whether positive or negative, can captivate audiences.

4. Trend/context

Trends are a subject that experiences a surge in popularity on social media for a limited period.

On a more technical note, two factors determine virality: the virality coefficient and cycle time.

5. Virality coefficient

The virality coefficient measures how many people a piece of content is shared with.

6. Cycle time

Cycle time measures how quickly it’s shared

For content to truly go viral, the coefficient needs to be high, and the cycle time needs to be low. In other words, the more people share it, and the faster they do so, the more viral it becomes.

Why Do We Find Cringe Content Appealing?

There’s something about it that draws us in, despite the discomfort it causes. One reason is schadenfreude—a German term meaning the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. Watching someone else’s embarrassing moment can make us feel better about our own lives.

Then there’s the element of second-hand embarrassment. Seeing someone else in a cringeworthy situation can trigger our own memories of similar experiences, making us empathise and connect on a weirdly personal level. It’s also a break from the monotony of our daily routines. Cringe content offers a strange sense of relief, allowing us to laugh and shake our heads at the absurdity of it all.

Cringe content also brings us together. Sharing these awkward moments online creates a sense of connection. We can laugh together, dissect the situation and maybe even feel a little superior (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!).

Think about it: how many times have you accidentally sent a cringe text or worn something totally out of style? Cringe content reminds us that at the end we are all humans

The Rise of Cringe Content & Its Impact

With the rise of the internet and social media, cringe content has become more accessible and shareable. Platforms like Instagram thrive on engagement, and what better way to engage people than with content they can’t stop watching?

But instead of using this amazing tool to its full potential, sometimes things get…well, strange. The spread of misinformation and cringe content can be a downside of this accessibility.

Take, for instance, the people who speak English in a weirdly unique way or singing videos that go hilariously wrong. These videos quickly gain traction because people share them with friends, looking for reactions. The result is a snowball effect that turns a simple video into an internet sensation.

However, this trend has its downsides. While it’s entertaining for many, it can be damaging for the creators, who often face ridicule and harsh criticism. Despite this, the attraction of fleeting internet fame is strong, leading more people to post potentially cringeworthy content in hopes of going viral.

Can Cringe Be Used in Marketing?

Believe it or not, yes! Marketers are always looking for new ways to grab attention, and cringe content can be a goldmine if used strategically. The world of digital marketing is always evolving, with a digital marketing company being the quick one to jump on trends. Cringe content can be a goldmine for marketers if used correctly. By creating content that’s deliberately awkward or funny, brands can attract attention and generate buzz.

For example, a social media marketing company might create a series of humorous, self-deprecating videos that poke fun at their own industry. This approach not only makes the brand more relatable but also encourages sharing and engagement. However, it’s a balance—go too far and the cringe can backfire, damaging the brand’s reputation.


The reason why cringe content is taking over the internet is because it taps into our emotions, offers a break from our daily grind and feeds our curiousity. The popularity of cringe content shows no signs of slowing down and while it might make us cringe, we can’t help but watch.

Whether it’s for a laugh, a sense of connection or just sheer fascination, cringe content has carved out a significant place in our digital lives. And who knows? The next viral cringe sensation could be just around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions

The rise of cringe content has both positive and negative aspects. While it provides entertainment and a break from routine, it can also lead to the creators facing ridicule and criticism. It’s a double-edged sword that reflects our complex relationship with internet trends.
When posting or responding to anything that makes them uncomfortable or humiliating, users may use the word “cringe” as a comment or caption.
It is a mechanism to prevent us from acting in a way that could cause us to lose our position or attract the anger of others.

Vasim Samadji is a partner at Flora Fountain, where he leads the Business and Marketing Strategy divisions. He is a seasoned professional with an MBA in marketing and over a decade of experience working with multiple MNCs. Vasim is a firm believer in the power of creation and he is...

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