Looking back, 2017 has been a strange sort of year — we were all so convinced that the world had hit rock bottom in 2016 that few of us ever considered that this year could get even worse. At this point, we’re not even going to make any guesses about next year. At least 2017 saw some really cool memes, and here were some of our favourites from the year in no particular order.
Needless to say, this isn’t a thoroughly scientific list, and it’s not exactly completely exhaustive either. These are just some of the highlights from the year that took over social media and were used in creative and interesting ways, practically taking over sites like Twitter and Reddit.
1. Salt Bae
We know what you’re going to say. No way this happened only in 2017, right? Well, yeah, it did. Salt Bae (Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe) first became famous after salting meat in January this year, and he blew up right away.
The hype around Salt Bae has definitely died down by now, but he had a good run, practically taking over our social media at the start of the year.
2. Roll safe
Another meme that feels like it’s a lot older than it really is, Roll Safe is a meme that’s used to give «useful» advice, such as: «You can’t be broke if you don’t check your bank account».
Your dreams can’t be destroyed if you don’t have any pic.twitter.com/HuTc7oHaJa
— EL LOCO (@SbastienLiegeon) February 3, 2017
The meme grew big early in the year, but you still see it on social media quite a bit even now. The humour is very tongue in cheek and self-deprecatory, which is always welcome on the Internet, though again, this one feels like it’s finally slowing down.
3. Zoom in
One of our favorite memes from early this year, the idea is simple — you hide text around an image, and tell the viewer to zoom in on one part of it. There, you give instructions for the next step, and so on, until you reach the end. It started with a picture of a dog, with instructions taking you from the nose, to the bottom left corner, to the hidden text, «you are beautiful» on the top right.
Doing this turned us from consumers to collaborators, participating in the meme, and it’s not hard to see why it became quickly popular. Soon after, a lot of variants of the tweet were there on the internet, and it was definitely fun while it lasted.
4. Distracted boyfriend
Possibly the meme of the year, distracted boyfriend features a man walking on the street holding a woman’s hand, turning his head to look at a second woman walking by, while his partner looks at him disapprovingly. The source is a stock image, and it was used with captions convey a number of different messages. Creative people even photoshopped in different characters to show their messages, rather than relying on captions. It was huge and even now, you’ll see people using the meme.
It turns out that there’s a whole series of images from the same photographer that give a full backstory to the seemingly random image, and this made it even more interesting. What’s more, with the number of variants available, people were quickly creating multiple meme formats based around the original, keeping it going for much longer than you would have imagined.
5. This is just to say
Memes based around William Carlos Williams’ poem ‘This is just to say’ have actually been around for a really long time. Something about the structure of the poem, the fact that it’s so obviously a poem without having to worry about rhymes, makes it a tempting inspiration. With Twitter raising doubling the character limit this year, it opened up a fresh wave of funny memes based around the famous poem.
this is just to say
i have given
that were in
to save her
— jomny sun (@jonnysun) October 21, 2017
There have been some incredibly clever takes on the poem since then, rearranging the words or replacing them to make different points in a humorous fashion.
6. I watch Rick and Morty
There are few shows which have ignited the Internet like Rick and Morty, completely disproportionate to the viewership. On social media, you’d imagine that it was the most watched show out there, so it’s no surprise that there are a tonne of memes around it. The show also has a famously toxic audience, so many of the best ones make fun of that fact.
You’ll find any number of memes out there making fun of the fact that angry defenders trot out some variant of «you have to have a high IQ to appreciate Rick and Morty», and the meme was everywhere after the latest season aired, although things have cooled down a little now.
7. Pennywise from It
The reboot of Stephen King’s It did a lot better than many of us were expecting, and the memes had to follow. There are a few different ones around the movie’s villain, Pennywise the demonic clown, and they’re all still floating around.
The most popular ones seem to be related to the sewer scene, where Pennywise offers something ridiculous and then people climb in to the sewer, though Pennywise dancing, and Pennywise looking into the camera with a caption are also popular.
The latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, released this month, but ahead of the release, its trailer included a tiny clip of a creature called a Porg. Some people loved them — Porg toys are big sellers in stores — and others hated them more than they hated Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. Either way, the Porgs were taking over the Internet this fall.
The screaming Porg in particular really caught on, as it works well with other memes — the best example being its crossover with Distracted Boyfriend. With Star Wars out now, it’s going to take a while to die down, we’d guess.
9. The floor is…
The floor is lava is a game most people would remember from their childhood. This meme takes that as a starting point and then changes lava for anything that is disagreeable. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, but also effective. Then however, an important change happened — photoshop in a caption or face and then the floor can become something you want the person/ company pictured to do, that they refuse to do — something relatable like the floor is sleep, for example.
The format lends itself to easy jokes about topics such as companies like Valve not releasing Half Life 3, political ones such as US lawmakers being against net neutrality, and a whole host of dumb jokes in between too. It’s a great format, and as of now, doesn’t look like it’s dying anytime soon.
10. Expanding Brain
The expanding brain also picked up earlier this year. It has a series of images, showing a brain getting bigger and bigger, while text on the left shows the different things that this enlightened mind corresponds to.
The joke is that while the first few panels usually appear to move forward, the last one is an over the top usage which is clearly meant to be satire. The result is a meme that can be hilarious, if done right, but one that goes poorly at least half the time. It turns out that you actually need an expanded brain for this one — perhaps it’s best left to Rick and Morty fans to use?
These were our favourite memes of the year — what about yours? Tell us via the comments.