#UpgradeChallenge, the Last Great Meme of 2015, Is Pretty Much the Meme Singularity

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This week, a new meme has emerged on Twitter that threatens to swallow all other memes whole. It is called #UpgradeChallenge. Here is how it works:

  • Picture No. 1: a picture of something
  • Picture No. 2: a certain stock photo of a keyboard button that reads UPGRADE
  • Picture No. 3: the “upgraded” version of whatever was in picture No. 1

It’s got all of the standard narrative. A beginning, middle, and end. Rising action, falling action. Emotion, drama, triumph.

#Upgrade is a super-meme. Initially, it started as a sort of conflation of Throwback Thursday and the #humblebrag. Users post embarrassing pictures of themselves when they were younger, and then pics of them looking mature and attractive.

But as is always the case, people have taken the #Upgrade format and run with it. Now instead of a humblebrag, it’s turned into a combo of some of the viral web’s favorite tropes: “X looks like Y,” Celebrity Pokémon Evolutions, and Expectations vs. Reality.

The results are very good.