Decade Wrap-up: How internet culture evolved society


Shriya Vanparia

Senior Sidekick staff writer Nanette Pottoore discusses the top trends of this decade. She reviews popular phrases and memes such as Nyan Cat, vines and more. Graphic by Shriya Vanparia.

Nanette Pottoore, Staff Writer

Rise and Shine.

In this story, I’m going to spill the tea on why the 2010s was an exciting decade for online trends and fads. The internet brought together many people through dances and memorable memes. This decade brought forth a variety of trends that will impact many generations to come. 

In 2010, meme culture began to take off. Though the internet has been around much longer, this decade, many people worldwide began to use the internet for recreational purposes. Popular memes consisted of rage comic memes such as the “Y U NO” guy or the troll face. Web-comics essentially became the memes of 2010. 

As YouTube expanded, many of the trending memes came from YouTube. Nyan Cat and Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” were a few of many fads that grew in popularity. Gaming also appeared in internet culture, specifically Minecraft. In 2011, impact memes, images with the bottom/top text in large font, began. Impact memes would be the most widespread memes until the second half of the decade. 

Dance trends grew popular in 2012, with “Gangnam Style” being the most popular, to the point where “Gangnam Style” became the first video on YouTube to reach one billion views. While memes such as Grumpy Cat and Slenderman captivated many, dance challenges such as the Harlem Shake burst onto the trend scene. I remember when my school would partake in the Harlem Shake; it was a time to just have fun. Another song about random animals called “What Does The Fox Say” peaked in 2013. For an end-of-the-year summary, check out YouTube’s recap for 2012 and 2013

However, one app emerged which would change the internet: Vine. 

As we transitioned to 2014, we saw Vine growing. This six-second video app became viral, where many creators and users turned for comedy. It gave exposure for more challenges, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where people dump iced water on others to bring awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Celebrities, professional athletes and even government officials took part in the challenge. One app that frustrated many, however, was the impossible “Flappy Bird” because of how hard it was to win. 

Dance trends continued to grow with the artist Silento’s “Whip and Nae Nae” challenge taking over 2015. Additionally, a new video game entered meme culture: Five Nights At Freddy’s. This sensation became a hit, because of it being a survival/horror game. Even more impactful was “the dress”. It broke the internet, because people couldn’t agree on what color it was—blue and black or white and gold—and were confused as to how it could be both at once. To this day, people still debate what the true colors are. 

The most impactful year for meme culture was 2016, as a wide variety of trends and challenges filled the internet. There was a switch from impact memes to dank memes. There was an increased variety of options, including games such as PokémonGo, challenges such as the water bottle challenge and the mannequin challenge, and hoaxes such as the October clown sightings that frightened, yet amused many. This was my favorite year of the decade by far. Many people partook in different fads, creating a sense of unity in the internet society. 

Fervent fans were distraught when Vine shut down in January 2017, ending its three-year run. This is because Vine was extremely influential, as I and many people today quote Vines daily. Fidget spinners and brands such as Supreme became the new hype of the year. As for memes, the distracted boyfriend meme grew popular due to how versatile it was to meme. 

The game Fortnite hit its peak in 2018. It incorporated multiple viral dances, such as flossing and the orange justice. TikTok became a trending app worldwide, with over 1.5 billion downloads. The app gave exposure to new dance trends, music and artists such as Lil Nas X. 

In 2019, a joke Facebook event about “storming” Area 51 on Sept. 20 took over the internet. With more than 50 million people partaking in the joke, Area 51 was definitely the most iconic meme of 2019. People from all over the world would pledge to “expose” aliens and UFOs hidden in the base. Just imagine historians trying to explain what the Area 51 raid was about. 

As we transition to the next decade, who knows what the future entails? Will memes grow even more absurd than they are today? As of now, the 2010s was definitely the best decade to witness the evolution of memes, periodt

Follow Nanette Pottoore (@nanettepottoore) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter for more.