Insanely amusing flight attendant takes over the Web

Technically Incorrect: In less than 24 hours, a YouTube video of a WestJet safety demonstration is loved by almost 1 million people. Why do such videos go viral?

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He's such a jolly fellow. Next stop, late night talk shows, surely. HiliBorn/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Some people truly love their jobs.

Some people would describe these people as delusional.

On occasion, however, someone will go out of their way to make customers feel so very, very good.

One such example has begun to enthrall the Web.

Posted on Friday, a YouTube video shows a WestJet flight attendant giving a safety video that employs some of the finest elements of Italy's Commedia Dell'Arte, tinges of French suggestive humor and a soupcon of Marcel Marceau after several snifters.

He adds a touch of Village People and a suggestion of Miley Cyrus from her finest days.

You might think this is belittling a very serious matter. However, airlines have long known that people just don't want to pay attention to these safety demonstrations. Indeed, look how Delta is trying to get passengers to pay attention to them. If you're using Internet memes, you must be desperate.

At the time of writing, almost 1 million people have already enjoyed the WestJet jester.

The question is, though, why this video is becoming virally popular. Helpfully, the Harvard Business Review has just published a treatise on the subject.

Using data from video ad-tech company Unruly -- culled from an analysis of "some 430 billion video views and 100,000 consumer data points" -- the piece suggests that there are two main drivers of virality: psychological response (how the content makes you feel) and social motivation (why you want to share it).

I'm sure it took a lot of intellectual rigor to reach that conclusion.

Analyzing one particular viral video, the boffins found that in sharing certain videos people really wanted to know what their friends thought -- so-called "opinion seeking."

However, wanting others to see it because it might help them also rated highly, as did wanting to be the first to show it to your friends and prove that you're terribly cool and au fait with what's going on.

As for the psychological response that makes something go viral, humor was a very difficult element to measure. Supposedly. Instead, the essences of good feeling were warmth and happiness, with hilarity coming third, but a distant one.

With this delightful cabin crew member -- named, the video taker says, Michael McAdam -- the hilarity surely also reflects a warmth that spreads happiness. Especially during a part of the flight where passengers would rather the cabin crew just shut up.

In essence, when we enjoy videos like this we're showing that we'd rather feel good than not. And when we do, we want to share it.

Or at least to boast that we're happy and you're not.

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