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  • What makes cringe-worthy content so watchable?
  • What makes cringe-worthy content so watchable?
    Cubmundo, Creative Commons (2012) ©
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What draws us to cringe-worthy content?

From politicians to vloggers, digitally captured faux pas have become the fodder of much debate across media. But what makes cringe-worthy moments – which inspire feelings of embarrassment, awkwardness, and even pity – so captivating amid the stream of content fighting for our attention?

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From obnoxious politicians and earnest celebrities to egotistical musicians and awkward vloggers, digitally captured faux pas have become the fodder of much debate across media. Cringe-worthy moments – which evoke feelings of embarrassment, awkwardness, and even pity – have not only taken the internet by storm, but they’re also dominating headlines. Data from Google Trends shows that use of the word ‘cringe’ is skyrocketing across platforms, increasing 257% between August 2014 and July 2016. [1]

Our interest in awkward moments is nothing new. In fact, we’re hardwired to produce certain physiological responses when we witness awkwardness from ...

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