"We see some of us in those animals," Fisher explained. "We see some of the fear of us getting caught by a group of lions, or us defending our baby against a predator."
Now centuries ago, if one of our ancestors had seen something like this, he would have talked about this around the campfire, and it would have become the stuff of legend. People would have doubted that it really happened. But what's different about the Internet is that when the most amazing things happen, everyone in the world gets to see it.
So many people now watch Internet videos that even some real stars choose this medium first. Comic Will Ferrell has eliminated the studio middleman, going straight to his fans with skits like "The Landlord" posted on the Web site funnyordie.com. Ferrell plays a tenant being hassled by an unusual landlord -- a tough-talking 2-year-old girl named Pearl, who demands the rent and threatens to put Ferrell on the street if he doesn't pay.
Funnyordie's Adam McKay has directed Ferrell in $100 million movies like "Anchorman," but he was just as excited when "The Landlord" went viral because Pearl is his daughter. The skit has been watched more than 48 million times. The genesis for the clip, McKay says, came from Pearl's ability to enunciate well at an early age. McKay told ABC that he would feed Pearl her absurd lines and "She would say it. We'd all laugh like idiots. She would laugh. And so for her, it was kind of just a fun game."
Embarrassing moments go viral too, as when Miss South Carolina Teen USA Lauren Caitlin Upton was asked during the televised pageant to answer the question "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"
Upton's halting, convoluted response started with, "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, people out there in our nation don't have maps ..." and it went downhill from there.
The Miss Teen USA contest was watched on TV by 4 million people, but the video of Upton's answer was clicked on more than 19 million times. And thousands more people watch mean parodies of her that were quickly posted on YouTube.
Apparently the humiliation attracts viewers, even when the humiliation gets nastier. Entire Web sites are now dedicated to showcasing fights. Some kids use the Internet to intimidate others. They bully other kids and then proudly post the video online. This shouldn't surprise us, says Fisher, because we all want to advertise who we are to the world, and that includes how tough we are.
Fisher says we ask ourselves many questions. "Am I more brave? Am I more cowardly? ... Am I smarter? Am I funnier? Am I more clever? Am I better looking? ... Where do I stand in the community?"