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Forget Laurel or Yanny: Social media's newest debate is wheels v. doors

The internet's latest question asks: Do you think there are more wheels or doors in the world? – Photo by Dil / Unsplash

The thought-provoking nature of seemingly mundane questions has a habit of going viral. We've been regularly plagued by questions on social media like “is water wet?” or “are eyebrows considered facial hair?” And now, the latest iteration of this type of question has spiraled into a heated viral debate.

Over the past month, the argument over whether there are more wheels or doors has taken the world by storm. The debate originated from a single Twitter post that received more than 220,000 votes, 4,000 quote tweets and 2,000 replies from heated users expressing strong opinions on either side.

On March 5, a Twitter user named Ryan Nixon posted a poll asking users “My mates and I are having the STUPIDEST debate ... And I am here for it. Do you think there are more doors or wheels in the world?”

Some expressed incredulity about one side over the other. Another Twitter user named Lily Franklin replied “who is voting doors??? There are wheels on everything. I have wheels on my garment rack, makeup storage holder, rubbish bin. It’s definitely wheels.”

Wheels eventually triumphed in his poll with 53.6 percent of the votes, leaving doors with 46.3 percent. But alas, that poll was not the end of the argument. 

The debate migrated over to other social media platforms, making an extremely notable appearance on TikTok. The hashtag “DoorsVsWheels” has been viewed more than 408 million times on the application.

People have classified themselves into “team doors” or “team wheels.” Users have been going viral for filming themselves listing reasons supporting either side in a series of videos that have saturated the app.  

People on the app have taken to extremely creative means to cite evidence on either side of the debate. Supporters of wheels point out that there are wheels on trolleys in grocery stores and warehouses, wheels on most hospital beds, wheels on rollerblades and wheels on suitcases in many homes.

A TikTok user who posts under @masterbuilder_alec pointed out in a video that Lego makes 306 million toy wheels a year. The debate even caught the attention of UPS, who have pledged their allegiance to team wheels.

Viral videos in support of team doors have pointed out undercover doors like coffin doors, the doors of heart valves and the tabs on chocolate advent calendars.

They count more generic household doors like cabinet doors, lockers and refrigerator doors. User @kimyesupremacy posted a video of a series of skyscrapers, prompting users to hypothesize how many doors are in just one of those buildings, then multiply it by the skyline in every major city.

User @viavic posted a video citing evidence of how a light switch can be considered a door because it opens and closes a switchboard as it is flipped. I find myself oscillating between the two sides with new, creative evidence being surfaced on a regular basis.

In the age of information, we are no stranger to random viral debates like the infamous dress or the Laurel-Yanny audio. Scientists were able to prove the dress was black and blue, and Laurel-Yanny was explained by the varying frequencies in which the sound was heard.

Science has yet to concretely answer the seemingly mundane question that is wheels vs. doors. For the time being, it's best to simply enjoy pondering over it.   

There's something positive to be said about social media being saturated with a lighthearted debate. We seem to live in an age where the toxicity of online culture is inescapably pervasive. Social media is used to alienate, cancel and hurt people.

But wholesome debates like this prove there are infinite facets of our online world, so it’s impossible to characterize the whole scope of it — I appreciate this period of playful, inconsequential virality.

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