The 2010s have not only increased the popularity of memes but also their power. Initially, they might have been just weird and funny but with as time went by, their meaning started to become more profound. Some might consider them an entirely new language because of its regular use in conversations on digital media. They can have various affects on the moods of different people especially when they represent a familiar situation. The second decade of the 21st Century was full of such moments that defined the power of memes. They acted like political expressions for most complex issues like same-sex relationships, women rights and anti-racism movements, global warming awareness, digital currency revolution, and even for a game show host becoming a President of the World’s Largest Economy. There were many reactionary memes to almost every political happening which helped the generation to better understand the world they are living in and how to process contradictory information.
7 Most Viral Memes in Recent Years
In doing so, there were certain memes that were shared almost rampantly because of their high reliability regardless of the situation. Whether its political or personal, these memes have appeared almost every where on internet and never failed to make their viewers laugh. Moreover, they have been embedded in cultures and influenced many other things beyond the internet. Apart from merchandise and digital currencies, memes have also helped enterprises and corporations to boost their businesses. Even this website gets thousands of views on meme articles, whereas nobody gives a damn about serious ones. Here are some of the most viral memes of 2010s that everybody can relate to.
It is impossible to go through internet without coming across a picture of one Shiba Inu dog with broken English. Just like its confusing spellings, “doge”, the meme has its own grammar. 5 common modifiers that appear on the meme are wow, very, much, such, and so. They are used as internal monologues to represent what the dog (or the meme maker) is thinking.
One of the most viral memes of the 2010s orginated from two separate sources. The intentionally wrong spellings of dog comes from a 2005 episode of ‘Homestar Runner’ puppet show in which one character calls another his D-O-G-E. And the picture of the dog went viral after Japanese teacher Atsuko Sato posted some images of a dog named Kabosu, she rescued from a kill shelter, on her personal blog in 2010.
Ever since, Kabosu’s face has been ruling the internet in many forms. This particular meme also gave birth to a cryptocurrency worth 0.061 USD.
In 2019, netizens finally found a relatable meme that could perfectly represent their dismay over the sheer amount of absurdity and idiocracy on the internet. The meme originated from a cricket match between Australia and Pakistan. During a heated contest, Pakistani player Asif Ali dropped a crucial catch that generated a memorable reaction from a fan named Muhammad Sarim Akhtar. The camera pulled away from the cricket field and focused on his annoyed reaction, giving birth to one of the most viral memes in the world.
The Angry Fan or Disappointed Fan meme was also featured in the Hong Kong Meme Museum in 2021. It fits on almost every situation where a person suffers or causes unbearable frustration.
Kermit the Frog Sipping Tea
A popular puppet character Kermit the Frog drinking tea, often appears under controversial statements, political posts, and several debates, with caption “but that’s none of my business”. It was an exact amount of passive aggressiveness required to point out hypocrisies without engaging much in unnecessary argument. It is also used as a sarcastic post-script or sometimes as an insult to a specific group or individual. It is most famous for often containing misogynistic captions.
The meme reportedly originated in 2014 and first uses involved mocking delusional people and their whimsical goals. Inspired by the meme, many popularized the hashtag #NoneOfMyBusiness on social media to joke about fakeness, and superiority or celebrity complex. The major reason for this meme’s popularity is the famous green puppet character Kermit, played by the late Jim Henson. The puppet is a household since 1955 featuring in world famous puppet TV shows like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. When it appeared in memes, it instantly connected with the social media users, as they knew why it was so funny.
In 2015, a tumblr post asked the users “What Color is This Dress?” followed by a picture of a two-tone woman’s dress. It started a worldwide debate as the color was not immediately clear. Some argued it was black and blue while others maintained it was white and gold. Users were so confident of thier choice that they aggressively defending it while others wondered if they were color blind. Online polls were held to determine its color in which 70% stuck with black and blue while 30% said white and gold. Even famous personalities started to share what they thought of the color.
Soon users agreed that there could not be a correct answer to this just like the world view, which was different for each person. However, later the pictures popped up on social media showing the dress available to purchase on an online store. It appeared blue and black on the website and even titled “Royal-Blue Lace Detail Bodycon Dress”. It ended the debate but still did not answer why different people saw the color differently.
Unable to establish a common answer, they turned to science. Turned out that the original tumblr poster uploaded a bad-quality picture just to play with people’s minds. The lighting conditions affected viewer’ brains differently, making them perceive different colors. It sparked countless memes which mostly contained feelings of the viewers who were sick and tired of seeing the same debate on thier timelines everyday for the next 2 years.
Who would have thought that one of the most viral memes on the internet would originate from a stock image. Photographer Antonio Guillem from Barcelona, Spain didn’t even know what a meme was when he took the pictures for stock image companies in 2015. One of his image titled “disloyal man with his girlfriend looking amazed at an attractive woman” generated thousands of memes that are still circling the internet, 7 years later.
In an interview, Guillem explained that his objective was to cover the concept of infidelity in funny manner. However, he didn’t realize that his picture had the ability to represent so much more. It became a standard meme for discussing common distractions on social media. Many used the “distracted boyfriend” in the middle as a surrogate for audience who was distracted by something new while already in possession of something valuable.
It would be wrong to say that this meme evolved over time because it actually mutated. It started to cover broad topics as it was being used by many famous personalities, brands, and even government officials. Perhaps its best use was to mock political decisions that divide the community.
Wojak or Feels Guy is a popular illustration of a sad face that became a timeless meme. A simple drawing of a cartoon character went viral on online image boards even before 2010. Initially, it contained captions that often complained about not having a girlfriend. However, when it spread to 4chan, it’s popularity and diversity increased. Especially, the picture of 2 Wojaks hugging each other with caption “I Know That Feel Bro” became the best of the bunch. This meme was used to share similar melancholy feelings with others on the internet. Whenever a sports team loses, or a nerdy guy gets rejected by a hot girl, this meme has been the perfect source to rebound. It related with most internet users and also helped them to digitally support others in a melancholy moment.
Rarely any other meme made as much impact on the real world as Bernie Sanders mittens meme. During the inauguration of Joe Biden as the US President on January 20, 2021, a shot of former presidential candidate sitting comfortably in warm clothing, isolated from the crowd, took the internet by storm. His striking pose with unique pair of mittens stood out from the entire event. Many edited versions of the picture started to come up, placing Bernie on various places such as Eiffel Tower, Subway Train, in popular movie scenes, and even on the moon. An entire website was established, allowing users to create thier own meme by placing Bernie anywhere in the world by using images from Google Street View Maps. The senator’s outfit also went in demand, especially the mittens, made by a school teacher Jen Ellis. She received countless requests to recreate the same mittens for sale.
The meme inspired merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, vine glasses, and stickers. Sanders also used this popularity to make and sell sweatshirts containing the viral picture to raise charity funds. Reportedly, the proceeds were more than 1.8 million USD. Jen Ellis has stopped making more mittens like this but when she did, her mittens were auctioned for charity and also helped her daughter’s college fund. She also collaborated with a socks manufacture to sell socks (made in the similar pattern as the mittens) to collect proceeds for the food banks in the state of Vermont.
Whoever edited Bernie’s meme picture with the Iron Throne had the right idea in mind. Moreover, the popularity of this meme has also showed how a special photo without any caption can touch deeper feelings than images with texts.