Damn, parrot

“Damn, Daniel” may not be funny in the slightest, but it does serve as an excellent example of how easily something can be repeated with little thought.

I don’t find the infamous sentence fragment funny regardless of its original context, or as a meme. Jokes require structure, a subject, something to actually make fun of. The aforementioned viral sensation has a structure. That’s about it.

That being said, it is super easy to repeat. The phrase is short, alliterative and easily adaptable to other situations.

Yet, when I’ve asked friends why they like shouting “damn, Daniel”, the majority have started to say something, then stop with a confused look and a shrug. A few of my friends thought over the phrase for a moment before saying, “It’s not that funny, actually.”

Harnessing the human urge to parrot a fun phrase is a great way to spread information. Be it a marketing message, goofy phrase or even patently false information. If it’s interesting and easy to say, people are going to spread it like wildfire.

I can’t confirm “damn, Daniel” is staged specifically by Vans as a viral marketing campaign, but the video definitely feels staged. One shot in particular is supposedly showing Daniel “reacting” to the catchphrase.

The subject is supposedly walking past the camera to class, yet as the sentence “back at it again with the white Vans,” is said, he makes a full half turn, so he’s walking back in the direction he originally started from.

Not the most efficient way to walk to class, but a great way to keep your shoes as large in frame as humanly possible.

Keep that in mind the next time someone tries to share a motivational or “shocking” fun fact, especially from an educator. It’s incredibly easy for a something patently wrong to get stuck in the head of a person with power.

Think about it. If you’re a student, are you likely to outright tell an instructor, “No, professor trying to tell an inspiring story, Albert Einstein never had trouble with math in school. He was actually incredibly good at math his entire life.”

If I’d taken everything an educator has ever told me to heart, I’d be walking around this campus telling people Japan is a communist country, Wendy’s chili has horse meat in it and every one in five miles of any U.S. highway is mandated to be perfectly straight (apparently so planes can land during wartime).

Parroting opinions, quips and fun facts is quite easy, but please take the time to consider the source material before continuing an idea.