Memes—super-viral content that spreads like wildfire on the web—are a staple of any good email chain or Facebook wall, and 2012 supplied no shortage of them. Here, we've selected a sampling of funny favorites.
"The picture has that quality, implausibly common to viral Internet photos and rarely seen outside the genre, that makes you believe that it might be, literally, the funniest thing you have ever seen," wrote Andrea Denhoed for The New Yorker. For that reason, this shot of surprised young ladies vacationing in the Cayman Islands became wildly popular online, prompting Internet wiseguys to add their own captions, as is meme custom:
Tumblr blog Texts from Hillary became a sensation for its imagined dialogues between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other politicians or celebrities. Yep, that's it, but the lighthearted images struck the right nerve, perhaps because of Clinton's often serious demeanor.
Darwin, a stylish seven-month-old rhesus macaque, was found (and photographed) wandering in a Toronto IKEA this December. The story's since taken a not-so-happy turn (poor Darwin is locked up while its owner faces a complicated legal battle), but it generated plenty of laughs while it lasted:
Imagine being 16-years-old and hanging out with the President of the United States. Impressive, right? Not according to McKayla Maroney. The Olympian turned her asymmetrical expression into a stamp of the unimpressed. The results are hilarious.
The "Gangnam Style" dance is to 2012 as the Macarena is to 1994, but something about pretending to ride an invisible horse and lasso a confused bystander feels so much more fulfilling. Naturally, spoofs followed. Our fave? Probably NASA's rah-rah version:
In April, a bear was safely knocked out of a tree with tranquilizers at the University of Colorado, and photographer Andy Duann captured the moment. The well-timed shot, which shows the fuzzy beast plummeting downward, limbs splayed, tickled the Internet's funny bone and led to spoofs like the one seen here.
Considered the spiritual successor to a Saturday Night Livesketch in which Kristen Wiig plays a variety show actress with bizarrely under-sized hands, the One Tiny Hand blog launched in spring. It features, well, pictures of famous people that are altered to include one tiny hand.
Bub's on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, where her oddly compelling videos ("BUB! YOU'VE GOT YOGURT ON YOUR HEAD") have attracted millions of views. There's something undeniably appealing about the little fluff's tenacity, and we're not too proud to admit that we at Reader's Digest appreciate the quirky cat, alot, in our spare time:
Writing about the popular "Dogshaming" blog back in September, Reader's Digest humor editor Andy Simmons said, "It’s filled with repentant pooches staring soulfully into the camera while swearing off a life as a canine ne’er-do-well." That's about the long and short of it, but don't let the simple premise fool you: The submissions from readers are often surprising and completely hilarious.
Maybe not so funny: As Hurricane Sandy buffeted the East Coast, bogus images surfaced on social media. Users were fooled and quickly passed them around. Once the dust settled, Mashable collected seven of the most prominent fakes.
When Obama’s digital team used a GIF featuring Lindsay Lohan to promote the presidential debate this past October, Mean Girls fans around the world knew that the president was still trying to make “fetch” happen. Guess what? He succeeded. The result: A pairing of catchy quotes and political players that make a little too much sense.
"We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our Cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women," said Romney.
Children and adults cringed when Mitt Romney suggested that he would cut the subsidy to PBS, home of Big Bird. It only took a matter of minutes for Twitter to explode with Sesame Street fans shouting their love for the jumbo fowl and ultimately creating a bevy of hilarious memes.
Perhaps you've seen the Apple ad featuring actress Zooey Deschanel and the iPhone's "Siri" program, which responds to voice commands. Shortly after its debut, a parody Twitter account was born, suggesting funny questions the indie sweetheart might've posed to the software.
If Twitter existed in the 90s, we know that 80s kids (and their smaller-by-the-second attention spans) would be tweeting about what was popular then: Mariah Carey, Coyote Ugly, and UNNeceSs@Rily CAPiT@lized WORd$ with WeiRD Letter $ub$titution$. Luckily, you won’t have to leave the results to your imagination. @YourAwayMessage lampoons the "away message" conventions of ye olde AOL Instant Messenger and captures what would have been said if you had access to social media on your dial-up desktop.