2014: The Year In Memes

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2014! What a year, right? Things happened in real life (did they ever), but things also happened on the Internet, which is like real life only better because nothing that happens on here really counts, you know? Like you can literally do whatever you want without facing repercussions! Or, at least, that’s how many, many, many pieces of actual human garbage act on the Internet all the time. Anyway, this is not the time or the place to address the dark underbelly of the Internet, but rather is where we’d like to celebrate the things that made the Internet fun this year—best and brightest of what happened online in 2014. And not just the best and brightest, but also, uh, the shiniest.

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That Time Kim Kardashian Broke the Internet: Who could forget that time we all remembered that Paper was still a magazine and that it had actually staged a major coup by publishing the best cover of all time, one that was intended to break the whole goddamned Internet, but which only wound up making it faster, better, stronger? All hail Kim Kardashian. Now excuse us, we’re going to go buy some Neutrogena Sesame Oil, because, damn, that has to be the secret to looking like that, right? Right?!


¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Who could ignore this little guy this year? Nobody on the Internet, that’s for sure. He was everywhere, just shrugging at all the fucked up things going on around him. And who can blame him? Sometimes, there’s nothing to do in the face of madness but shrug.

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I Woke Up Like This: Ok, so yes, Beyoncé sang “I woke up like this” in 2013. But it was the very end of December, so it took a while to really catch on and as a meme “I woke up like this” was still going strong through August of this year, when Lena Dunham posted the above photo to Instagram.

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Fleek: Without a doubt, 2014 was already the year of the eyebrow—looking like a couple of caterpillars are crawling across your forehead is what you should be going for. But what’s the point in a trend if there’s no good vocabulary for it? Can a trend even exist without that? Maybe! But lucky for us, we don’t need to find out, because with “fleek,” we got the word we’ve long been looking for. All praise “fleek;” it’s clearly the word of 2014. (Runner-up: Bae.)
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Snackwave: What even is snackwave? We’re so glad you asked! You can read a comprehensive and amazing guide to it right here on The Hairpin. But, basically, it’s a trend that’s all about embracing snack foods, and it while it manifests itself in many ways, one of the best is through fashion. All of which is to say, not only was 2014 the year of eyebrows being on fleek, but it was also the year of the pizza onesie. So long, 2014, we’ll miss you.
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Leo Running: Sometimes memes are intended to express pure joy. This is one of those times. We hope we will one day have even 1/10 as much fun doing anything as Leonardo Di Caprio has playing with a Super Soaker.
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Pharrell’s Hat: It was big. It reminded people of Smoky the Bear. It was actually a reference to Malcolm McLaren and the World Famous Supreme Team’s 1982 hip-hop song “Buffalo Girls,” which was later sampled by Neneh Cherry in “Buffalo Stance,” a song that just does not get as much play as it really should and feels unfairly resigned to the dustbin of songs from the late 80s. But anyway: The Hat. People had a lot of opinions about it! Ours is that it’s great. The end.
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Ice Bucket Challenge: So it definitely felt like you couldn’t log onto any form of social media this summer (especially Facebook) without seeing someone you knew dumping a bucket of ice water over his or her head for charity. Was it a coincidence that this trend went viral during the summer, the only tolerable time of year for most of the country to even contemplate doing this? Uh, no! But we guess this raised a lot of money for the fight against ALS and it was certainly pretty fucking popular, so you know, there you have it: meme made.
Goodbye, 2014. A lot of weird stuff happened on your Internet. As we’re sure it will next year. As long as something doesn’t, you know, really break it.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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