Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dear Surprise Egg videos: I hate you


I thought we had a few more years of innocence before our kids discovered YouTube. They’re only three and five! What could there possibly be on YouTube to interest them, when the whole thing’s pretty much nothing but music, stand-up comedy, and Vines of people jumping out to scare each other and secretly zip-tying each other to chairs?

The answer is a little thing called Surprise Egg videos. My friends’ kids are obsessed with these videos, too, so at least we’re not alone. They clutch our iPods and iPads and stare at the screens, wide-eyed, as strangers on the internet crack open eggs and pull out junk. It’s as weird and simple as it sounds.

Not real eggs, of course. Sometimes the eggs are Kinder Eggs. Sometime they’re prepackaged character-themed eggs filled with candy, stickers or Play-Doh. Sometimes they’re plastic Easter eggs filled with random toys and knick-knacks people probably dug out of their couch cushions.

I asked the kids what they like about watching these strange little videos. Our five-year-old said, “Well ... they’re fun.” Our three-year-old echoed his statements, and that’s as much as I was able to get out of them. I suppose they like the element of surprise, as well as the secondhand joy that someone (even if it’s not them) is getting a ton of powdery candies and cheap toys?

Our kids’ favourite video is half an hour long and features a set of adult hands opening 101 plastic surprise eggs. It has -- get this -- more than 290 million views. Two hundred and ninety MILLION times, a child listened to that cheery music and cried out “A Spiderman! ... Stickers! ... Candies! ... A little car!” Two hundred and ninety million times, a parent twitched and fought back the urge to yell “WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?!”

What really gets me is that these videos -- the popular ones -- pause for advertisements every few minutes. Imagine how much these egg-crackers are profiting off the bizarre interests of preschoolers everywhere!

New business idea: retrieve my bin of Easter decor from the closet, stuff a bunch of plastic eggs with random toys from the house -- Lego minifigures, Calico Critters, maybe Barbie shoes? -- and set up a tripod. Record a painfully long video of my hands slowly shaking and opening each egg, revealing a lame surprise, and dangling it in front of the camera dramatically.

With any luck, I’ll hit 300 million views and secure enough advertisers to live a life of leisure amidst mountains of plastic eggs and 10-cent toys. The real surprise will be when I start enjoying them.

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