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Best memes of 2013

2013 was full of exciting events: Reality TV royalty had a baby; actual royalty had a baby; Beyonce shut down the SuperDome’s power; the government shut down everything but their gym; Miley Cyrus twerked the world into a frenzy; and Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes seem to have finally made it through their frenzies.

Generations from now, if people were to look back on 2013, what would they remember? What would we want them to remember?

Obviously, the memes. These visual ear worms capture our obsessions and combine pop culture with the snarky beauty that is internet speak. In my own completely biased opinion, here are some of the greats:

The resurgence of the Disney Princess:




And of course, Ryan Gosling and his aversion to cereal:


In fact, memes have become such a meaningful summary of our culture that they are news now. For instance, both Time and BBC News made a list of their top memes of 2013. After cross referencing these lists and those from Mashable and Know Your Meme, which included both photo and video memes, I found these to be the most-referenced memes:

  • Comic Sans Doge
  • Unflattering Beyonce
  • Te’oing
  • The Harlem Shake
  • Twerking
  • Starbucks Drake Hands
  • Hadoukening
  • Wrecking Ball
  • Sharknado

So I was curious – were these memes popular year round? How did people feel about them? Here’s our meme year in review:


Clearly it was the year of the twerk, as it was the only meme discussed year round. But Harlem Shake shook things up with a significant amount of buzz early in the year. How did the rest compare?


Twerking wins again, with Wrecking Ball making a noteworthy appearance. If you haven’t seen the Chatroulette to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” add it to your to do list. It’s worth it! Sharknado also took quite a bite (I had to) out of the pie. Beyonce’s amazingly unflattering Superbowl photos may have earned her a mention on three out of four meme lists, but it seems while Queen Bey’s PR team couldn’t stop people from sharing the photos, clearly they squashed the talking about them.

Memes serve two purposes: giggly joy and trolling. So did people like these memes? I took a look at comedic appeal, to identify people expressing positively and negatively about these memes and saw, by fa, that yes, people found the leading memes to be funny. While twerking had more volume than Harlem Shake, they had the same amount of positivity and twerking had only slightly more negative association.


(As an aside, each time I type twerk or twerking, Word reminds me this word is hooey, even though it’s recently been added to the Oxford Dictionary…)

Back to the memes! Unsurprisingly, our most popular memes also lead within the comedic appeal evaluation.


Which means my Facebook feed must be an oasis of joy! Unless memes don’t congregate on Facebook….


It’s interesting to note that our less prominent memes had a slightly more even distribution with higher volumes in bookmarking/sharing sites and micro-blogs, which is often where memes emerge from the underground to reach Twitter fame.


Clearly our year in meme’s was the year of the twerk on Twitter, so it seems only appropriate to honor the most twerktastic of all twerkers:


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