what were the 2010s?

The Decade in Internet Culture, in 34 Emblematic Posts

The funniest, strangest, stupidest, most genius, and most unforgettable posts of the 2010s.

Photo-Illustration: Stevie Remsberg
Photo-Illustration: Stevie Remsberg

When it comes to internet culture, discussion often focuses on the big picture: Viral memes that mutate over months and draw in millions of participants, vast world-striding platforms with powerful and menacing algorithms; influencers with global political clout and hackers with the backing of nation-states. Over the course of the last decade, the internet and the people, businesses, and institutions that call it home have matured into an astonishingly powerful force.

This list is not about that. This is a list about posts.

What is a “post”? A comment, a tweet, a status update, a Story, a forum contribution, a blog post, a photo, a video, even an email — these are all posts. Just as the cell is the building block of all organic life, the post is the building block of all online culture, the raw matter out of which memes, in-jokes, dance challenges, and trend stories are born. I’ve spent this entire decade creating, consuming, and writing about posts. Now, as the decade draws to a close, like a film critic looking back at the memorable movies, I am thinking back to the posts worth remembering — the posts that will stand the test of time. Others can debate the greatest memes of the decade or the most powerful internet personalities. I am interested in those those individual instances of human ingenuity, or derangement, that best expressed digital culture as it crystalized in the 2010s. What are the posts that we will remember ten or a hundred years from now? What are the posts that told us something about how we lived this decade? What are the posts that were so funny, or so strange, that I cannot get them out of my head?

“Go ! Bwaaah !” (2010)

If any one format dominated digital culture in the 2010s, it was the short video. From Vine to TikTok, a generation of teenage auteurs and idols demonstrated the value of hard limits when it comes to video. But the seeds for the six-second masterpiece were sown early in the decade: The funniest video I’ve ever seen is only two seconds long and has a complete dramatic arc packed inside a video the size of a postage stamp. Conflict, betrayal, death (I think). “Go!” the little girl shouts! “Bwaaah!” she yells as she slams into the concrete. “Oh!” says an unseen observer. “Ahaha,” says I.

The Bed Intruder Song (2010)

Few internet memes reflect less well on the internet of the early 2010s than the “Bed Intruder” meme. Huntsville, Alabama, resident Antoine Dodson protected his sister from an attempted rape and told a local news station about the incident — and then YouTube stars the Gregory Brothers Auto-Tuned it. I don’t think there was any intended malice, but it was hard not to notice that the reaction was less about Dodson’s agitated heroism and more about, well, the way he talked. Like, the chorus to this song — which landed at No. 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released — ends with “Hide your kids, Hide your wife / And hide your husband / Cause they’re raping everybody out here.” Yikes!

“Bed Intruder” was just one entry in a too-long list of viral videos and other memes in which a black American speaking in AAVE went viral for reasons that most people didn’t want to fully articulate or interrogate. (See also the paternalistic narrative of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the “golden voice” rediscovered by Reddit.) At the time, an NYU music professor told NPR, “There’s a way in which the aesthetics of black poverty — the way they talk and they speak and they look — sort of becomes this fodder for humor without any interest in the context of the conditions in which people actually live.” I think we’re generally smarter than that now — aside from whoever came up with the opening credits for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — but “Bed Intruder” set the tone for too long.

Supa Hot Fire (2011)

The concept and core joke of Supa Hot Fire is simple: He is a rapper who continually reminds you that he is “not a rapper”; he is not very good at rapping (his killing blow is “Boom. Bam. Bop. Bada bop boom. Pow.”) and yet his friends gas him up anyway. This series of parody rap battles — masterminded by comedian DeShawn Raw — might be the only internet thing you need to witness in order to understand the 2010s online. It’s not just that it gave birth to a canonical GIF, a shot of Supa Hot Fire smirking as his crew goes nuts. Or that, as an early web series masterminded by a young black comedian that became a crossover triumph (Chris Rock and Soulja Boy appeared in the series years before it became normal for celebrities to be on TikTok), it blazed a trail to success for a huge amount of the decade’s digital culture. It’s also that Supa Hot Fire is a perfect encapsulation of the experience of culture and politics on the social-media dominated internet, where all politics and culture is seen through the lens of fanatical mob fandom divorced from actual content. At least in the case of Supa Hot Fire, the unflinching allegiance is funny, not terrifying. Boom. Bam. Bop. Bada bop boom. Pow.

“Friday” (2011)

If your brain has attempted to repair whatever trauma it developed after first hearing it, “Friday” is a single by Rebecca Black. Who? Exactly: The song was written and recorded by ARK Music Factory, which was a business in which well-off parents paid ARK to write and produce singles and music videos starring their children. This reversal of what we assume is standard music production (an artist writes a song, a label pays for that song) is how we ended up with “Friday,” a song so wonderfully strange and ill-conceived that it’s hard to even decide which part of the song is best: the extended dilemma about which car seat to choose (“Kickin’ in the front seat / Sittin’ in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up / Which seat can I take?”)? The informative way in which Black lays out the sequence of days that compose the standard week (“Yesterday was Thursday / Today it is Friday … Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards”)?

I think what I liked the most about Friday was that everyone’s reaction felt like the right amount of mean. Like, yes, we were laughing at Friday, but not too much. Friday is cringe-inducing in many ways, but we also can acknowledge that she’s having fun! She’s ready for the weekend! Rebecca Black is trying her best. She didn’t ask for this attention, but she ended up fine by all accounts. “Friday,” unlike “Bed Intruder,” was a transparent, earnest attempt at fame, and it achieved its goal in a certain sense. It was one of the first and most prominent indications that social media could turn anyone into William Hung.

Kanye West’s anime tweet (2011)

Throughout this decade, Kanye West has been the artist who understood the potential of the internet more than any major musician. “Ima fix wolves” — his tweeted declaration that he would put an updated version of his track “Wolves” on music-streaming services — was, all its goofiness aside, a landmark moment in the rise of streaming: If websites can get updated, if software can get bug fixes and patch notes, if we have the technological means to improve our work on a rolling basis, why would we ever choose to lock it in amber?

But, look, my actual favorite Kanye West tweet is his one about watching top-ten anime rankings on YouTube. Stars — they’re just like us! Imagine if Hayao Miyazaki saw Kanye’s tweet and said, “Ima fix spirited away.”

The “twitter dot com” dril tweet (2011)

There is not much to say about that genius of Dril, a Weird Twitter icon whose boastful, misanthropic posts have largely defined the absurd tone of Twitter-native comedy, that has not been said already, but it shines brightest in this, a prescient vision of Twitter made in a year when the site had only a fraction of the influence it does now. Living for Twitter was lame in 2011; in 2019, a huge part of the decisions made in elite corridors of power, from government to media, are based on what’s happening on Twitter. If you plan to wield influence, you have to live for this shit.

Trump’s Robert Pattinson tweets (2012)

In 2012, Twilight star Kristen Stewart was found to be cheating on her co-star Robert Pattinson with a film director she had worked with. Donald Trump, then a reality-TV star, weighed in on the scandal over multiple, extremely funny tweets. “Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” he wrote. “She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again — just watch. He can do much better!” He was obsessed! I have to believe it kept him up at night. Others can believe that it was Trump’s more specifically political tweets that indicated his mastery of a new fusion of politics, entertainment, and media. For me, it is these. It’s a shame that Trump’s policies and personal beliefs are monstrous and abhorrent because he is also, pound for pound, the funniest president we will ever have.

“Gangnam Style” (2012)

Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was not the first K-Pop song to transcend borders, but its music video brought the genre to an entire new mainstream audience. It was the most-viewed video on YouTube for almost half of the decade — a testament to the cross-border, cross-cultural, cross-generational joy all humans can take at, among other things, a dancing child, a bus full of old people, a horse dance, a parking garage dance fight, and a man thrusting his hips in an elevator, when Psy screams at a butt. Nearly ten years later, it seems necessary to remember: Psy rules. We are so lucky to have him.

G’d up Crab (2013)

Rihanna, possibly the celebrity of the decade, is very good at posting. (The two facts might be related.) She’s got a lot of good posts (“Good luck with bookin that stage u speak of” is another all-timer). But the best, in my opinion, is this photo of her with a crab, just having a little goof at the aquarium. They’re making the same pose! I hope that crab is doing okay and wish it luck in the future. Same to Rihanna.

Shrek x Shadow (2013)

“Shipping,” as in “relationshipping,” is the online pastime of pretending two or more things (usually fictional characters) are in a relationship. You can ship anything, and people often do, such as Shrek, the CGI ogre from the movies, and Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic’s dark and edgy nemesis. The best iteration of this particular ship comes from a video created by YouTuber Berry Punch (it’s since been knocked offline by copyright claims); in the brief clip, Shadow and Shrek embrace as Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” plays.

There is an old rule of the internet that says “If it exists, there is porn of it.” A more PG version of this rules applies for any moderately popular entertainment franchise. If it exists, you can bet someone has written or drawn fan art of two characters making out. But as this type of fandom, celebrating through remixing and expanding the canon in unofficial ways, has become more widely known and accepted, the barrier between sincere and ironic has basically collapsed.

The video that this GIF comes from was made with a free tool called Source Filmmaker, which lets anyone use video-game models to create machinima like this. It looks, I’d say, about as good at the first Toy Story from the ’90s. For a long time, horny slashfic could only manifest itself in text and DeviantArt illustrations. Now, you can watch your most depraved combinations lock lips in motion. The GIF of Shrek and Shadow’s sweet embrace is truly something to behold. It makes me believe love is real and that we are all deserving of it.

Vin Diesel performing “Stay” (2013)

One of the most interesting social-media developments of the decade was celebrities realizing that they could sidestep traditional media gatekeepers and talk directly to their constituents. Why do an interview with a journalist who might ask a tough question when you can just livestream? Many of these celebrities are well groomed, and practiced, and obsess over the aesthetics of the things they post. Vin Diesel is not that kind of celeb. He posts from the heart with, it seems to me, little forethought or intention. He takes bad fan art from his acolytes and shares it with the world. Vin Diesel, in a sport coat and jeans, singing over the music video for Rihanna’s “Stay,” which is being projected onto the wall next to him. It’s an incredible, earnest performance. Vin Diesel! Singing! He knows the lyrics! He’s going for the high notes! He has true boomer posting energy, and he shares like an old person (he was born in 1967). Vin is just an incredible poster.

“Mouth Sounds” (2014)

I am 100 percent certain that Mouth Sounds is a mash-up album, but what I am less certain of is whether or not it’s a joke. Neil Cicierega is no stranger to viral music (see 2005’s “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny”), but with Mouth Sounds, he hit on some gonzo, disorienting sonic mix that is both great and fun and viscerally unsettling. Mouth Sounds took the mash-up framework established by artists like Girl Talk and the Hood Internet,\ and ran it through a meme filter, going through hits from the ’80s and ’90s but always returning to Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” a song that anyone can reference to instantly turn a normal post into a shitpost. The song gets mixed in with the Full House theme and Daft Punk and Modest Mouse; it gets pitched down substantially to mix with John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Its most inspired track mixes the Black Eyed Peas’ “Imma Be” with the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” Mouth Sounds is a mash-up album built around a musical meme that is also just a great mash-up album, a post that succeeds by finding novel ways to work within heavy constraints.

Back at It Again at Krispy Kreme (2014)

“First of all, the punch line is insane. “Back at it again at Krispy Kreme,” we hear. What does it mean? I can all but guarantee that nobody assumed the phrase meant “back handspring into a neon sign.” I love how it ends before the sign hits the floor. We get just enough to know that the handspring — impressive in and of itself — has caused some damage. But we don’t know the extent of the damage, nor how our stuntman reacted, or how the employees of Krispy Kreme reacted. It’s a blank space that our imagination fills — made all the more dramatic by the eternal, endless loop of Vine.”The Untold Story of What Happened After ‘Back at It Again at Krispy Kreme,’ the Best Vine of All Time

Twitch Plays Pokemon (2014)

In 2014, thousands of people semi-democratically voting on which button to press managed to, eventually, play all the way through Pokemon on a Twitch stream. How did that go? Well, it has one of the best Wikipedia entries I’ve ever read. An excerpt:

Two Pokémon that were obtained early in the game, and then later accidentally released were the Charmeleon and Rattata, “ABBBBBBK(” and “JLVWNNOOOO”, further nicknamed “Abby” and “Jay Leno“. The team’s Pidgeot, one of the highest level Pokémon in the group and often successful in battles, was named “Bird Jesus” by the community; concurrently, the team’s Zapdos was nicknamed “AA-j” but referred to as “Archangel of Justice” or “Anarchy Bird”. Their Flareon was dubbed the “False Prophet”, as players had accidentally obtained it instead of Vaporeon, which was needed so they could teach it the “Surf” move needed to travel on water, and it had later caused the release of the Charmeleon and Rattata. During the eleventh day of the event (23 February), which fell on a Sunday, the players inadvertently released a dozen of the captured Pokémon, effectively deleting the creatures from the game, an event that later became known as “Bloody Sunday”.

It was inspiring and also comically inefficient — players fumbled through menus for hours. It functions as the best demonstration of the enormous potential and obvious limits of crowdsourcing. Letting everyone yell out their ideas and instructions at once eventually gets the collective moving toward a goal, but not nearly as fast as anyone would like.

The guy who fucked a Hot Pocket (2014)

Perhaps nothing expresses the reality of social media better than this: You log onto Twitter, expecting a mix of news, politics, and witty repartee. Instead, every single person is talking about the “guy who fucked a Hot Pocket.” And guess what? That is absolutely what you thought it might be: A user by the name of @VERSACEPOPTARTS fucked a Hot Pocket after heating it up, in exchange for retweets. “I would definitely recommend it, if you’re lonely,” he told First We Feast. “I wouldn’t recommend putting it on Vine, but I’d recommend fuckin’ a Hot Pocket probably. It wasn’t bad. It’s messy, though.” There is a grand online — and, frankly, offline — tradition of people sticking their dicks in things they should not, and for that reason, we must salute its 2010s avatar. But the other reason to remember the Hot Pocket Guy is that he and his video were the apotheosis of a particular quality of 24/7 social media: the incomprehensible, ongoing conversation.

Snakefucker.mp4 (2014)

See above, but replace “Hot Pocket” with “snake.”

The Pony Jar Project (2014–17)

Content Warning: This is, by far, the grossest entry on this list, and I highly recommend you keep moving. Just skip to the next one.

Do you remember bronies? Those were adult men who really like the children’s franchise My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. As his been extensively documented, brony fandom is generally a sweet, nerdy occupation and not a weird sex thing. Except when it is a weird sex thing. In 2014, a 4chan brony began what is known, internetwide, as the “Pony Cum Jar Project.” He put a figurine of the character Rainbow Dash in a jar, and started, well, and I’m sorry, filling the jar with his semen. In 2017, he decided to transfer the project to another jar. He filmed the video of the transfer. It is truly the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on the internet.

What does this tell us about digital culture in the 2010s? I don’t know that I want to think about it long enough to decide. The final Bronycon for the foreseeable future was held this year, and to be honest, I’m not sad to see it go.

Vagina plane (2014)

Content Warning: Uh, this one’s also kinda gross. Keep going!

In 2014, U.S. Airways tweeted out a graphic picture of a woman lying on her back with her legs over her head. A toy airplane is lodged in her vagina. There was no context for the post. The hour the vagina plane tweet was live was one for the ages. There were so many questions that nobody had any answers to. Who took this picture? Why did they take the picture? Why did this person insert a toy plane into her vagina? Why did U.S. Airways tweet it to a customer? (The answer was that it was flagged as inappropriate but some wires got crossed.)

But even better than all of that is the fact that nobody was fired for the mistake. It was an honest social-media mistake that was rectified in the appropriate manner! That’s increasingly rare these days. Everyone wants to clown on the brand when they screw up, and the result of that is often individual human parts in a large corporate machine bearing the brunt of the scorn. Not so with the vagina plane, which was exceptional in the severity of the screw-up and exceptional in the reasonableness of the fallout.

Apple adding that U2 album to everyone’s account (2014)

Content Warning: Bono.

The Apple-U2 dustup says so much more about what our priorities are now. Our digital collections function as extensions of ourselves, curated and performative — a U2 album in your music collection was like an ugly pic on Instagram. Even if it cost nothing (monetarily) for you to have, the reputational harm can be severe. That Apple would ally its brand with a cultural force like U2, and the backlash it’s received, served as an early warning. Like U2, Apple is highly influential and bland as a saltine. Apple TV+, with its big-budget and largely uninteresting programming, is a repeat of the U2 incident — only this time, Apple wants you to pay for the boring crud. (Some may dispute that this is a post, to which I say: Apple uploaded something and distributed it online.)

Vin Diesel’s Ice Bucket Challenge (2014)

A lot of attention-craving celebrities (and normal people) participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, hoping to raise money for ALS research and, I guess, clout. But the best Ice Bucket Challenge was performed by Vin Diesel. In the back of a pickup truck, in the midst of a verdant field, Vin Diesel lifts a large metal bucket over his head and dumps the contents on his shiny dome. Almost none of the ice has melted, so he doesn’t really get wet as much as he just gets hit with some ice, which lands with a loud thud on the truckbed. He then points at the camera, which dollies around him, and says, “I challenge Michelle Obama, Angeline Jolie, and Putin!” He points as he says that last name and really pops his P. Well before everyone else, Vin Diesel was calling out Russian interference — well before it became a national fascination and subject of Robert Mueller’s report. As far as I can tell, none of the three responded to Diesel’s challenge.

Yo (2014)

In 2014, an app called Yo took the world by storm (not really). You couldn’t send texts to people with Yo; all you could do was send them a Yo, a single unit of interaction without any connotation. What was the point of sending a Yo? That will always remain a mystery. The Yo was a post distilled. It was an effort to, above all other goals, simply be seen. Was a Yo received as a good sign or a bad sign? That’s not the point.

Amy Schumer blurred out (2015)

I think the fear of cancel culture is largely overblown, especially for celebrities, but that hasn’t stopped it from manifesting in very funny ways. Around the time of The Force Awakens, John Boyega appeared on Graham Norton’s program to tell a story about going on a date. Pretty normal talk-show stuff, but perfect fodder for a Tumblr GIF set. What eagle-eyed users noticed about the set, however, was that whoever made it had also taken the time to blur out comedian Amy Schumer, who was also sitting on the couch. I’m not sure why someone decided to do this, but the move represented a type of hyperethical, conscientious fandom that developed through the 2010s. Even in a post about Star Wars, this person made sure to erase unrelated elements that they considered problematic. That someone would even make the effort to do so is at least a little funny.

The Tumblr witch who stole bones (2015)

Photo: Facebook/Tumblr

Who was the Bone Witch? A (self-declared) witch went to a graveyard, picked up some bones, and tried to sell them to other Tumblr users. The witch didn’t rob any graves but just found the fragments on the ground. Now, you might be thinking, Hey, that’s wrong, but people on Tumblr at the time weren’t so sure. What are bones, anyway, and who do they really belong to? The night of “Boneghazi” was unforgettable because it articulated one of the key rules of close-knit groups and community standards on the internet: It takes only a handful of witches and their validation to allow someone to feel comfortable enough to make a post like, “Hey, I’ve got some bones up for grabs.” The internet has allowed even the most extraordinary or unappealing people to find a cohort. It helps to remember the Bone Witch whenever you see something weird or offensive online.

Debbie the Wine Mom (2015)

Among the most important sociological developments of the decade was the emergence of a family of different “Beverage Moms” on Facebook. There is the “Coffee Mom,” who needs a coffee so she can crush the day; the “Water Mom,” who drinks a gallon of a water a day and encourages her friends to hydrate themselves in acts of self-care; and the “Wine Mom,” who needs her grapes so she can relax. Strangely, despite (or because of) their similarities, the various Beverage Moms are often engaged in near-incomprehensive internecine warfare, especially the warlike Wine Moms — including, especially, Debbie, the greatest Wine Mom of all time: “Nice share Jill but fuck your sober water challenge bullshit.” Note in particular that in Debbie’s comment, she compliments Jill’s “share.” The “share” has become a sort of holy act on social media over the past decade: To share is to give, like a charity. In a vast majority of cases, you cannot fault somebody for sharing. You must respect the share, before you tell your friend that their share absolutely sucks shit. Absolutely brutal stuff. Get Debbie a glass of the vino!

This Minions meme (2015)

“Reaction memes” (using images from popular media to reflect our emotions instead of spelling them out) were a defining trend of the decade. No franchise truly dominated this space as much as the Minions, the yellow creatures that first appeared in the animated hit Despicable Me before launching their own animated franchise. Minions (into whom Universal has invested an enormous marketing budget), as characters, have no personality, no race or nationality, no human language; all Minions are male but also sexless. This makes them useful as blank slates we can pin our own attitudes to.

I think this is the platonic ideal of a Minions meme. It is so grouchy and resentful of people who spend too much time looking at their smartphones, yet it is meant to be seen by precisely that crowd.

British lads getting hit with a chair (2015)

Because I live in America and have my whole life, my internet experiences are largely America-centric. And then every once in a while I get to wonder what the hell is happening in the British Isles. I don’t really seek out lad culture, but whenever it washes across my feed, I feel a sense of calm. It’s the same way I feel when an aggressively Eastern Bloc dashcam video crosses my path. Everywhere is fucked up and absurd and inexplicable, and that’s calming in a way. The lads are crazy for this one!

Peanut-butter baby (2015)

How good is this video? In a word: Ah.

Tails from “Sonic” is NOT gay! (2015)

Personal growth and self-reflection are increasingly rare online, but maybe my favorite instance of such things is this post from whoever the admin was for the Facebook page “Tails from ‘Sonic’ is NOT gay!” True to their word, this page has vanished, but not before a few more updates were posted. His brother got kicked out of the house, and they joined him in fraternal solidarity. They piled into a van and traveled out west, “to a place where he can be accepted and where we can both be far away from our old life.” They adopted a dog named Scooby. Wherever they are now, I hope they’re doing well.

“I’m just chillin’ in Cedar Rapids” (2015)

When we remember the digital side of the 2016 election, what will we remember? The iconic Hillary Clinton 2016 post was this Vine, which was taken from a Snapchat her nascent campaign sent in mid-2015. We see a bottle in a koozie that reads “More like Chillary Clinton, amirite?” Then comes my favorite part: an extremely loud tap sound as the filmer goes to flip the camera around. “I’m just chilling. In Cedar Rapids,” she tells us. I don’t know exactly why, but I always think of the tap. On cold nights, I’ll gaze out my window and maybe, just maybe, I’ll hear it echoing in the distance. That tap said more about old politicians trying to get their message to young people than any slogan could.

Hobama (2016)

The most prevalent rumor surrounding the boy band One Direction concerns Larry, who is not a member of the band. Larry is the portmanteau couple name given to Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles, who fans were convinced were a romantic item, even though they were not — another result of slashfic that often crops up in online fandoms. The best One Direction ship, however, is actually Hobama, which imagines a relationship between Harry Styles and former U.S. president Barack Obama. Here, Tumblr user everythingbutlarry asks us to imagine this alternate universe: “President Obama falls for part white house intern part rockstar Harry Styles. Obama surprises Harry in the audience of one of his shows and the affair blossoms from there.” A beautiful idea, and one of the best things I’ve ever seen on Tumblr.

The Hobama photo set blurs the line between truth and (fan)fiction in a deliriously funny way. Captioned GIFs and videos have often been a way of conveying information, especially on Tumblr, and yet it is also a format that is so easily messed with that there is endless potential to blur and confuse reality. Obama was a very popular president, and Harry Styles is a very popular musician. Is it really out of the realm of possibility that they might hook up? Yes. But I’d wager: Is it really? Well, yes.

The wife e-mail (2016)

The wife email is an email one guy, Twitter user @MarkusJ, sent another guy about the latter’s wife. The sender was dating the wife and deciding to move close to the (not his) wife. Hey, guy whose wife I’m dating, I hope things can be cool and not weird between us. What a world! It’s not entirely clear what the goal here in sending this email, and sharing it publicly, was. It also kicked off a deluge of “wife” memes online.

One thing I love about the internet is that I’m always seeing new things. A lot of thinking around the internet this decade has been about the developments of fandom, and filter bubbles, and spaces in which people’s own views and communities are reinforced. But for me, I like seeing all the garbage new things from people whose lives are different from mine. Hence, the wife email.

The wife email is also pivotal on a meta level. It was a post of a post. The Twitter user wanted everyone to know that he sent this email. He was bragging about his initial post (the email), and that post (the tweet) became an object of scorn and ridicule and bewilderment. Posting about other posts became a currency all its own in the 2010s (just look at meme accounts, which all, for the record, suck), and the Wife Email is probably the apex of the form.

“Bibme is now part of Chegg” (2016)

Do you remember where you were when you found out that BibMe had become a part of Chegg? In 2016, textbook service Chegg acquired bibliography service BibMe. And that’s how BibMe became part of Chegg. If you were a BibMe user, you might have received an email telling you this very clearly. “BibMe is now part of Chegg,” it said. It came from BibMe, a Chegg service. BibMe was independent, now it’s a valuable Chegg asset. Chegg has BibMe now, and that’s great. Any questions?

This bewildering TikTok (2019)

I can’t even begin to explain what is so disconcerting about this post, which features an entire family running around frantically searching for … something? Before stumbling upon a collection of family photos that have been … altered. The scariest piece of video I’ve seen in years. Truly unsettling, it has resided in a dark, dingy corner of my mind ever since I first laid eyes on it months ago. I cannot shake it. The amount of collaboration happening on TikTok, between groups of individuals coordinating to make unnecessarily elaborate minute-long films, is really something to behold. It’s so much effort for something that is, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant. Not that I’m complaining.

“We slidin” (2019)

This is the most recent post on this list, but it’s a powerful one. Let’s overthink this a bit. The bus is like … the internet? And the driver is … us, the posters? And we kind of set this thing in motion and now it’s a hulking, unstoppable beast blowing through metaphorical stoplights and we’re unable to stop it? Every day in every way, we slidin.

The Decade in Internet Culture in 34 Posts