Why It’s Crucial to Understand the Popularity of Reaction Videos.

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

The first T.V. show rerun aired in the summer of 1951? The Lucille Ball Show rebroadcast past episodes due to Ball’s pregnancy. Early T.V. rarely discussed pregnancy much less show it. The show had to come up with an idea. Showrunners floated the idea of showing the pregnancy but decided it was too risky. Thus, the rerun was born.

By 1955, summer reruns were more popular than their original broadcasts. This phenomenon would be the beginning of what makes today’s reaction videos popular.

Before 1951, if you and a friend loved a show and one of you missed an episode that was tough luck. There was no way for your friend to see it later. Now, you could get your friend to come over and watch the rerun. You knew your friend loved the show and they were going to love this episode.

You experienced a greater pleasure of watching them enjoy the show than when you saw it yourself. You were happy your friend got to experience the joy you did. It felt like you gave them a gift. Their joy stacked with your joy. Also, it felt good to watch the episode again. You knew what was coming and remembered the feeling you had watching it the first time. Hello, nostalgia.


Nostalgia is a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when remembering good times from your past. Watching reaction videos creates nostalgia. You are recreating the setting of your past. This recreation releases the same emotions you felt back then.

Your emotional memory has no anchor in time. When you relive something from the past, you transport back to that moment in time. Your logical mind knows you aren’t time traveling but your emotions overwhelm your logic.

According to Heidi Moawad MD, a Neurologist and a contributor for NeurologyLive:

“The reward centers of the brain, including the hippocampus, the substantia nigra, the ventral tegmental area, and ventral striatum are activated during nostalgic activity. This reward center involvement explains the very common phenomena of feeling pleasant emotions upon hearing a song [or seeing a show] from the past….”


Dustin Smith, a contributor for Lifesize, says:

“70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal.”

The heart of reaction videos is people’s reactions. It’s more about how their body responds rather than what they say. We are visual creatures. Think about a time when you saw a loved one jump up and down with joy over a surprise birthday party. You smiled at them. It’s a positive reaction to theirs. Their happiness is your happiness.

Also, it doesn’t have to be a loved one for this reaction to occur. It can happen with a stranger. Seeing someone express joy activates a part of your brain giving you a feeling of joy. Yet, words also carry power, so you mustn’t overlook them.

You watch a shocking scene from a show and are left speechless by what you saw. Your favorite character died, or the character committed an act uncharacteristic of themselves. After a few moments, you look over at your friend and ask: What the fuck happened? They swivel their head facing you to say, I’m going to lose my shit.

What about the look on their face when they saw it? Nothing in nonverbal communication speaks to us more than microexpressions of the face. Shock, joy, puzzlement, they tell us everything we need to know about what a person is feeling. You may also find yourself copying their movements and expressions. This is mirroring.

Alannagh Kelly, a blogger for ImagineHealth, writes:

“Mirroring is something we do with people we like or are interested in- we copy their body language, speech, facial expression and more. Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way to show empathy. It signals that we are connected to that person in some way.”

This is evolution’s way of helping us to get along with each other. Mirroring builds comfort and trust between people. It is the heart of what is happening when we are watching reaction videos.

Social Connection

Watching reaction videos can entertain you. It can also provide you an outlet to interact with. The main point of watching is the reaction of the creator and hearing their thoughts. The act creates a bond. Although the bond isn’t quite the same as a ‘normal’ relationship, the brain is okay with the absence of some steps. For example, live interaction and the energy exchange of proximity to another person.

The mechanics of making a friend aren’t relevant to your brain. Your brain perceives reality through your emotions. You’ve made a friend if the same chemicals fire off in your mind when you’ve made a friend face to face. Or, if you’ve made friends in the case of interacting with other viewers. People love to be heard. Leaving a comment after watching a video can be a satisfying experience.

What’s better is to have another viewer reply to your comment. Your comment spurred a response from someone else and if the reply happens to be positive, it feels good. They complimented you on your thoughts about what you experienced. It’s nice to find others in agreement with you. You’ve found yet another like-minded person to share with.

Of course, those aren’t the only scenarios that can play out when you leave a comment. Asking you a question about your comment can elicit good feelings. Your words triggered an interest in someone else’s mind. This is a huge feeling of validation. It’s intoxicating. You want more.

Lack of Awareness

Do you know how much of a rabbit hole looking at videos can be? Drooling in front of your screen and absorbing mindless content is common today. But, what are you getting yourself into? It’s fine to take a break and do nothing productive every so often. Yet, every ‘so often’ can change to ‘often’ and then ‘more often.’

It shouldn’t surprise you to know you can get addicted to watching reaction videos. It’s akin to getting likes on social media. The little click on the heart or thumbs up gives you a ‘hit’ and watching someone love what you love is no different. Yet, it’s only one component of the negative side of reaction videos.

As with most places on the internet, you can interact with the creator and other viewers via comments. This is usually a neutral or positive experience. You can have some great exchanges with other viewers. Leaving a comment for the creator and them responding to you builds a connection. It feels good.

Interacting with any group of people can have challenges though. There’s always someone who wants to ruin the party. It’s tough when it happens in person but people aren’t nearly as mean in person as they are on the internet. Keyboard warriors have the courage to say horrible things when there is no danger of repercussions. It hurts being on the receiving end. Sometimes, you wonder if it’s worth the price.

You can indeed watch reaction videos ‘free’ but you don’t get the whole experience unless you pay. Most creators make reaction videos to make money. They are entertainers, and there’s nothing wrong with the idea. On one website you can watch the edited version with small clips stitched together of the content in question. While on another site you can watch the full reaction. This is where the creator asks for a little something from you. It’s typically inexpensive.

Yet, you pay for it. You pay for the shared experience and you pay for the good feelings you get from consuming the content. That’s all fine but what about the perceived friendship component? Is it okay to pay for friendship? It’s a different time now and you can pay for friendship while you sit at home, physically isolated. You are a social creature. Even if you are an introvert, you still require human interaction to some degree to maintain mental health.


Everyone needs a source of entertainment and refuge from the storms of everyday life. As these words have illustrated, a lot is going on after you hit the play button on your favorite reaction video. You can be rewarded with a host of feel-good chemicals and experience comradery with a lot of people. It’s fun to relive your feelings and experiences through others. Seeing their joy you experienced once upon a time brings you a feeling of closeness to another human being. You need that feeling of bonding.

Yet, as with things of this nature, you can have too much of a good thing. It can take up important time you need to have for other aspects of life.

Schedule your time. Pick a favorite content creator and follow them. Creators post one to two times per week which shouldn’t interfere with other things.

You must have a healthy mixture of activities in life. Doing too much of one thing can lead to obsession and closing yourself off to other avenues of happiness. So, spend a little time enjoying the nostalgia but don’t forget to interact with people in person. Heck, they may like to watch reaction videos too.

You can indeed watch reaction videos ‘free’ but you don’t get the whole experience unless you pay. Most creators make reaction videos to make money. They are entertainers, and there’s nothing wrong with the idea. On one website you can watch the edited version with small clips stitched together of the content in question. While on another site you can watch the full reaction. This is where the creator asks for a little something from you. It’s typically inexpensive.



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T.C. Gunter

T.C. Gunter


T.C. wants you to read his words. Hoping that the words transform you. Not in some grand way like spiritual rebirth. But more like a act of kindness or a smile.