The Internet meme. An idea, notion, concept, action or symbol that spreads virally across the Internet, especially social media.
They catch on quick, and often fade away just as quickly. They become uncool as fast as they become cool, and they don’t always make a whole lot of sense. Examples of the same Internet meme can often differ slightly from one another, but will always be identifiable though the meme’s central idea or theme.
So we’ve compiled a short list of both our favourite and the most famous Internet memes that have went viral across the Internet.
Rickrolling is both an online prank and an Internet meme that dates back to at least 2007, and like many Internet pranks it finds its roots in popular online message board website 4chan.org. The idea behind rickrolling is to trick Internet users into visiting the music video for Rick Astley’s hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”, usually by posting Internet links and pretending the link will lead elsewhere.
Users who click the link and see the video (usually only the first few seconds) are said to have been “rickrolled”.
Typically the prankster will disguise the link using a URL shortener so the person clicking it will not know where it leads. The link may be designed to appear to go somewhere relevant to where it was posted.
Despite being many years old, rickrolling has certainly stood the test of time, and has estimated to have been targeted at many hundreds of millions of online users.
LOLcats are a viral Internet meme that involves posting captions on funny pictures of cats. The captions are designed to appear child-like in appearance, often exploiting “text slang” and spelling errors, with the words sounding like something you would expect a small toddler to say.
The evolution of the LOLcats meme has spawned many other types of memes, and the popularity of the original LOLcats meme is nowhere near as prolific as it was when it first propagated the Internet a number of years ago, and is often seen now as quite dated.
Perhaps the most popular caption attributed to a LOLcat meme is the ubiquitous “I can haz cheezburger”.
Thankfully, most of this is buried in the past where it probably belongs.
The Harlem Shake
The Harlem Shake meme hit the Internet in 2013 and to join in with this meme you needed to do much more than just post a picture or post a link. In fact this meme involved those involved to post a video of themselves with others performing the Harlem Shake meme dance.
Each meme video would be split into two sections. The first half would consist of one person dancing alone to the Harlem Shake by Baauer in a room full of people either ignoring him or just unaware. At the half way point when “the bass drops” the screen would briefly go black and re-emerge to the second half of the video with the entire room dancing, usually in silly costumes or helmets.
YouTube user Filthy Frank uploaded the first video of the Harlem Shake meme which was soon parodied by a comedy collective known as TheSunnyCoastSkate. From there it took off with hundreds of people uploading their own videos, including families, offices full of co-workers and [most commonly] large groups of friends.
Chuck Norris Facts
One of the funnier memes that has been around for a number of years now is the Chuck Norris facts meme. Simply put, they are facts about how awesome Chuck Norris is.
Well when we say facts, we’re using the term loosely. In fact they’re not facts at all, just humorously exaggerated statements about Chuck Norris’s strength, endurance and attitude.
For example… “Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his bedroom. It’s not dead, it’s just too afraid to move.”
”When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he had 3 missed called from Chuck Norris.”
The meme even has its own website dedicated to archiving all the “Chuck Norris facts” out there in cyberspace, at ChuckNorrisFacts.com
Willie Wonka, played by Gene Wilder, features in his very own Internet meme designed to demonstrate condescension and a tad of pomposity. Literally thousands of versions of this meme have spread over the Internet over the years, often rewritten to reflect trending events.
Each author of the meme adds a sarcastic, patronising and/or condescending caption which is directed at the reader. Basically, it wins the ultimate award in passive-aggressiveness.
The Internet meme and trending hashtag #FoxNewsFacts was prevalent on Twitter for a good period of time after Fox News accidentally featured an “expert pundit” who boldly exclaimed that the city of Birmingham in the UK was a “Muslim-only” area where non-Muslims simply don’t enter.
The UK certainly seemed a little perplexed by the claim. In reality Birmingham is 22% Muslim, so needless to say it wasn’t long before the pundit was called out by thousands. It soon sparked a trending hashtag on Twitter called #FoxNewsFacts where the Tweeter would basically make up an entirely fictional “fact” (often centered around the fictitious claim that Birmingham is Muslim-only) and combine it with the #FoxNewsFacts hashtag, and some of the results were hilarious.
Some examples –
Britain is home to an Islamic regime called ‘mecca bingo’ #foxnewsfacts
Birmingham’s refuse collectors are all Bin Laden #FoxNewsFacts
In Birmingham, the local death squads go by the name of Quran Quran. #foxnewsfacts
Appalling thing is support for isolated city of Birmingham won’t have been seen by citizens because of the internet ban there #foxnewsfacts
Birmingham has a chain of fast food restaurants called “Burqa King” #foxnewsfacts
It has been scientifically proved that journalistic standards at Fox News would be improved by employing actual foxes. #foxnewsfacts