8 thoughts on “The Most Widespread Internet Memes

  1. First post!!!!!!!1
    urr, that’s my answer 😉 Because people like to get noticed, I guess.
    Come to think of it, I now see that comments are moderated. So I might not be first after all…

  2. Playing a historical second to the King of Internet Memes, LOLCats, is the highly not-safe-for-work (-or-anything-else) Goatse.cx, the grandfather of gross, the ruiner of innocence, the progenitor of the phrase “What is seen cannot be UNseen,” the linkbomb that topped them all. Although the site wasn’t the first of its kind, it picked up the gauntlet and judiciously smacked around all who stumbled across its URL. It spawned a cottage industry of linkbombing sites set up with the goal of punishing the unwise and the easily-duped with various flavors of visually-shocking perversion. Goatse.cx is no longer with us (thank God), but its legacy lives on, and references to it reverberate through forum posts, shoops, and candid photography everywhere.

    It is because of Goatse, and all it inspired, that I never, ever follow any TinyURL.

  3. Lolcats i’m happy for you, and imma let you finish, but Kanye West started the most widespread meme OF ALL TIME!

  4. You know, both Lolcats and Yo, Imma Let You Finish have some things in common that make them easy to spread: they’re easy to mash up with other things, they’re easy to create, and they can be used in many different situations.

  5. Your point about ease of creation/mashup reminds me of a widespread meme that was once omnipresent, but has now more or less disappeared: Tourist/Backpack Guy. It’s pretty clear that ease of creation and distribution had to reach a certain threshold for this sort of thing to really take off. I wonder whether 2001 was more or less the time when the internet became so pervasive and photoshop [or equivalent] so available.

    Should Rickrolling be considered very “widespread” when Google decided to rickroll every single youtube video view on April Fools Day a couple of years ago? That meme is structurally the same as goatse/tubgirl/2g1c: link with unanticipated content, playing on the “anonymity” of URLs and peoples’ willingness to follow them upon recommendation. Rickrolls are of course a lot more likely to get spread; I figure the disgust factor of the others really cuts down on that.

  6. Oh, yeah, Tourist of Death. That’s nearly the earliest wide-spread mutating ‘shop I can remember — the only other one that springs to mind is Dino Ignacio’s “Bert is Evil” site.

  7. I think there’s a kind of “metameme” thats behind the internet: collaboration (is it in the genes?) . And one big Meme surely for me “freedom of information”. But we should be aware that big Memes may supress smaller ones. Like the notice that only a small part of the world yet has internet access, so maybe a Meme like “freedom of information” in the internet may override “freedom from hunger” in eh .. reality?

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