2 Million People Watched a Video of a Lemon Rolling Down a Hill Because Nihilism Rules the Internet

Stock art of a single lemon on a white background.
Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Life gave Mike Sakasegawa a lemon. So he filmed it rolling down a hill, posted the video to Twitter, and as of the time of publication, racked up more than 2 million views.*

What led 2 million people to watch a video of a lemon rolling down a street? It is a very pleasant video, for one thing. Your interior monologue while watching it will definitely go from “There’s no way this will be interesting” to “Um, why was it so great when the lemon moved from sunny area to shade?” to “Oooh, a car!” and so on.

There’s also the novelty of seeing a stray lemon in the wild. It’s like on Sex and the City when that guy Carrie had jury duty with pulled a mango out of his briefcase. It is very rare to encounter fruit out of context. Tired: projecting narratives onto strangers on a plane. Wired: projecting narratives onto fruit on a street.

Plus, this video is vertical, i.e., it’s the future of the online watching experience. IGTV, take note. I guess this beautiful world around us provides the most fascinating content of all, huh?

But I also think part of what is at play here is that the lemon video taps into a very specific internet phenomenon. There’s long been a sort of unspoken challenge on the internet to see who can make the most banal thing go viral. We did it with a kid saying “Damn, Daniel” in a weird voice, and now we’re doing it with fruit obeying gravity. The weirdness fuels the virality: If a million people watched this video of a lemon rolling down the street, a million more will watch it just to see why it’s so special, only to laugh when they realize what’s special is that it’s not special. In short: Life is meaningless, time is a flat circle, etc. But enjoy this lemon video—it’s very good.

*Correction, July 12, 2018: This post originally misspelled Mike Sakasegawa’s last name.