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The Uncanny Valley Of Floral Foam

The Internet is strange, a beautiful place where your information can be stolen while you giggle your way through therapy.

In many ways, the Internet is the where we all explore ourselves, out our oddities, leaving ourselves vulnerable for bittersweet connection. A wander down a clickhole of stories about oriental shorthairs, a visit through the history of unicorns in art, an investigation of conservatives rewarding Donald Trump for healing Korea: that is life online.

Then you find things like floral foam videos, where disembodied hands crush those crunchy green blocks florists use for always watching digital eyes. People fashion the blocks to look like cakes to crush them into bowls. People take kitchen tools to these soft emerald shapes and push through them like futuristic dinner stuffs. People stab them with trash to see how these made-to-break forms react. This is useless content. It is based on waste, occupying a territory somewhere between the stupid and the comforting. Like watching someone eat pickles in front of a microphone or perusing single-serving blogs dedicated to a C list celebrity bulges, this is the beauty of floral foam.

I happened upon these videos while procrastinating on Instagram Discover, seeing a glittery thumbnail and curiosity pushing me to understand what was going on. It was the work of “Floral Foam Queen,” @issafloralfoam, an Instagram whose purpose is to crush the stuff the green stuff for an audience of 400K. It’s an empty calorie channel, a dumb form of entertainment, yet I spent thirty minutes scrolling and indulging this uselessness yet important “work” of crushing foam. It’s like bubble wrap: you cannot dispose of the material without popping every bubble. Thus is the floral foam appeal: you cannot engage with floral foam without pressing your finger in its coarse surface, pushing through the inorganic natural brick until you have gone through it. That is the appeal of floral foam content.

The question, though, is what are these videos all about? Is this a lone viral person? As expected, no: this is a movement. Mashable explains.

You likely know floral foam as a craft supply used in floral arranging. Traditionally, a florist might use a block of foam saturated in water to secure cut flowers inside a vessel. The ASMR creators of Instagram, meanwhile, have discovered its alternative use as a highly absorbent, delightfully sliceable first class ticket to Insta stardom.

Dry floral foam straight from the shelves of your local craft shop has a malleable quality that makes it perfect for crunching and crumbling on camera. When wet, floral foam becomes heavy and fragile. With just a squeeze, soaked foam disintegrates into a murky green liquid.

But while the sopping remnants of a craft-store staple aren’t Instagram-worthy in their own right, the most successful foam crushers add glitter to the mix, lending the foam and its sparkling guts a galactic quality.

It’s as simple, as stupid, as that. Or is it brilliant? No, I dare not say.

The Internet is strange. It is both real life and not, considering that these creators are putting themselves at risk of the toxicity of this foam. Don’t try this at home, apparently, as prolonged exposure could cause cancer.

To each their own, I suppose, to wander the world with crunchy green hands, awaiting the effects of formaldehyde to eat away at your glittering body until you are the squishy little pieces of imitative flesh floating in a bowl of toxic soup that people will watch on repeat until a new entry stumbles out.

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