An Internet meme is a piece of content – an image, phrase, video, or an idea (usually something humourous or silly) – that is spread virally online mostly by imitation. Some memes become so well known that they get their own Wikipedia entries and become part of popular culture (in the case of Chuck Norris, for example).
Here are some of our best Internet memes (we had to make the list small otherwise we could have gone on forever). Let us know what your favourite meme is in the comments!
Everyone’s favourite modern human superhero has been popping up in memes for years.
Grumpy Cat is a pet cat from Arizona with a disorder that has given her an underbite and makes her look pretty grumpy. She’s spawned thousands of memes of negativity and sarcasm (while in real life, she’s actually a friendly and happy cat!).
‘Ermahgerd’ is ‘oh my god’ pronounced as if with a speech impediment. The caption has appeared on all manner of photos (often unflattering or embarrassing ones) since 2012 and has spawned a translator so that you can create your own ‘ermagerd’ meme captions.
The Banff squirrel
Since his debut in a legendary photobomb, this little guy has become the world’s most famous squirrel, and pops up in photos all over the place. He’s even got his own Twitter account (with 17 000 followers) and is used in successful tourist campaigns to promote Canada’s Banff National Park.
What would the Internet be without LOLcats? This beloved meme is all about cute cats and funny captions in lolspeak (a language also known as “kitty pidgin”.
One of the most widespread Internet memes, Rickrolling involves tricking people (by masking the URL) into clicking a link to a music video for the catchy 1980s Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. If you are tricked, then you’ve been rickrolled!
In 2013 Harlem Shake took over YouTube. The meme involves one masked person dancing alone in a group to the song “Harlem Shake” and then everyone in the group dancing wildly. At the height of the meme’s popularity, thousands of Harlem Shake videos were being uploaded to YouTube every day. It’s been calculated that the world spent a total of 2782 years watching Harlem Shake videos in one month!
The Hamster Dance
One of the first Internet memes, the Hamster Dance (rows of dancing hamster GIFs) went live in 1998 and quickly became a viral sensation.
What are your favourite Internet memes?