By now, you've seen the water bottle flip. It's everywhere, and the internet is loving it:
That's Mike Senatore, an 18-year-old from Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, NC, whose "bottle flipping" in a recent talent show launched him into worldwide internet fame. In the surest indication of viral success, Twitter parody accounts everywhere are stealing the clip for their own purposes, and those tweets are finding incredible traction (or, "engagement," a technical term used by social media managers for brands) in a short period of time.
Senatore is now, predictably, angling to follow the path of legendary teen memers before him (see: Alex from Target) with a guest spot on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
If Mike goes on Ellen, it makes it increasingly likely we are witnessing a rare (but sure) phenomenon: the birth of the summer's hottest meme.
It's difficult to assess exactly how this meme might play out. Could it take on even more dramatic stakes, like attempting even more ambitious water bottle flips? Is it possible that teens will "water bottle flip" in inappropriate situations, like while crossing the graduation stage? Will people start…challenging each other to flip water bottles? What would that even look like?
This amount of uncertainty is surely the water bottle flip's biggest obstacle to reaching the heights of, say, the Ice Bucket Challenge, a previously popular water-based meme. Early-stage artifacts, however, suggest a few different blueprints for its possible viral arc.
First, teens simply flipping bottles at school. It's hard to see this method taking off, considering school's out in, like, a month.
Next, there's the poor imitations.
BuzzFeed, of course, live-streamed themselves flipping water bottles:
But this video from a YouTube user named Atsy may just reflect the future of this meme.
See, Mike's talent show is impressive in its own right, but its success is predicated on a number of difficult-to-reproduce external conditions: Not everyone will have a stage to perform on and a wildly enthusiastic crowd of teens to make the moment even better, but everyone does have a phone with a camera and a number of surfaces onto which water bottles can be flipped. Think of the possibilities.
It could be like videos where dudes throw basketballs from extremely long distances, an enduring meme that everyone loves. It's just visually satisfying to watch a water bottle flip through the air and land perfectly on a ledge. So much so, perhaps, that we could be seeing clips of teens doing increasingly crazy shit with it all summer.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.