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.