Recap of 2017: Meme Edition


Georgia Morris

Every generation has a gimmick. The 80s: big hair. The 90s: grunge bands. Early 2000s: frosted tips. 2010s: memes. A meme is an idea or a behavior that spreads through a culture, and in the days of the internet, memes spread like wildfire. Here’s our year so far, recapped in memes.

January: Saltbae

In January, a meme called “Saltbae” took the internet by storm. The meme comes from a video that a Turkish chef, Gökçe, uploaded of himself slicing a steak and sprinkling salt extravagantly. Two days after being uploaded on twitter, the video had 2.4 million views and close to 9,000 comments. A user referred to Gökçe as “saltbae”, starting the meme that would spread to every media platform. People began using screenshots of the video to make jokes and others dressed up as “saltbae”. The meme is used to describe situations in which people do things that are “extra”, or over the top.


February: Cash Me Ousside

          Almost anyone who has used the internet in 2017 has heard of “Cash Me Ousside.” The meme originates from an episode of Doctor Phil where a concerned mother brings her 13 year old daughter, Danielle, on the show to discuss her behavioral problems, focusing on her newly found hobby of stealing cars. In the episode, Danielle becomes tired of the audience laughing at the ridiculous way she talks and acts and says the now famous line, “Catch me outside, how about that?” The line instantly became internet famous due to the context of the situation and the way Danielle said it, sounding more like “cash me ousside, how bow dat.” The meme starting gaining popularity in late 2016 after the episode was aired, but really took off in February after notable meme accounts on different social media platforms began using screenshots of the video with captions. Spreading of this meme lead to fame for Danielle and new memes surrounding the teen, including “I’m about to start swinging”, a meme originating from a video of Danielle threatening to fight someone.



March: Student Athlete

          The meme on everyone’s mind and twitter feed in the month of March was the student athlete meme. This meme mocks self-centered athletes that can turn any conversation into a conversation about themselves and their athletics. Twitter user @beyonseh started the meme with a tweet saying  

“me: hi

student athlete: yo! what you complaining for 😤😂 i grind 24/7 💯☝🏽🤣 you don’t see 👀 me crying 😳👌🏾‼️” Other twitter accounts soon took off with this idea, making their own variations of the joke. Eventually, the meme expanded to include other student subgroups like theater kids and AP students.


April: I Had to Grind for this View

          A new month, a new meme. The month of April saw a new meme that parodied people who brag about the things they have online. “I had to grind for this view” is a common statement used by people to show off the usually expensive things or lifestyle that they worked for. Internet users who were tired of seeing these people brag about themselves online decided to mock them by taking screenshots of video games, iconic movie scenes, or just random pictures and photo-shopping themselves or someone else looking out among the scene with the caption “I had to grind for this view”. Like all memes, the joke spread and took on many different variations.



May: Mocking Spongebob

          May: in like a lion, out like a lamb. Taking the internet with lion-like force, a meme derived from a widely loved childhood show was the standout in May. This meme features an image macro of Spongebob from the 2012 episode, “Little Yellow Book.” In the episode, a character in the show reads Spongebob’s diary and learns that whenever Spongebob sees plaid, he acts like a chicken. On May 4th, 2017 twitter user @OGBEARD posted a screenshot of the scene where SpongeBob acts like a chicken with the caption “How I stare back at little kids when they stare for too long.” In only five days, the tweet received more than 147,300 likes and 73,000 retweets. The joke evolved when another twitter user posted the same picture the next day with a call-and-response format and what would become the meme’s signature upper and lowercase letter alternation. The picture’s caption read “Bf: ‘I don’t even know her like that’

Me: ‘I dOn’T eVeN kNoW hEr LiKe ThAt’”, thus transforming the original joke into what would become “Mocking Spongebob.”



June: The Floor is Lava

          The biggest internet trend of the beginning of the summer is an ode to childhood. A game commonly played by children everywhere, “the floor is lava” is a game in which people cannot touch the floor because it is “lava,” resulting in people having to jump from object to object to avoid the floor. Instagram users Kevin Freshwater and Jahannah James brought this game back to life for the older generation when they started an internet challenge called #TheFloorIsLavaChallenge. They posted videos of themselves where they yell “the floor is lava” in public spaces and the other person has 5 seconds to somehow get off of the floor. This challenge quickly spread and resulted in lots of videos of people playing “the floor is lava.” Walmarts everywhere have had plenty of displayed knocked over in the process, but it’s all been in good fun.



July: Snapchat Hot Dog

          Over the summer, Snapchat updated their app and included a change that would become the meme of the summer. This update added a Snapchat filter that injected a dancing hotdog into videos someone takes on the app while using the filter. The first place other than Snapchat that the dancing hot dog was seen was on a YouTube video uploaded on June 23 featuring the hotdog dancing on someone’s shoulder while getting her nose pierced. After this first video, the dancing hotdog began to be seen in videos all over Instagram and YouTube, dancing in the weirdest scenarios. A little over a week later, the dancing hotdog moved from videos to being included in photo-shopped jokes on different social media platforms.



August: Distracted Boyfriend

          Everyone knows how awkward and staged stock photos are. In August, internet users took advantage of the awkwardness of a stock photo and ran wild with the possibilities. The stock photo features a man walking in a city, holding the hand of a woman, with his neck turned at a painful angle in order to look back at a woman passing by them. This stock photo birthed the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme of August. This meme entails a bit of photo-shopping and Microsoft paint, which people use to put labels on the people in the picture in order to make jokes. These jokes range from people talking about how they are more interested in dogs than people (where the boyfriend is the internet user, the girlfriend represents people, and the other woman represents dogs) to European history jokes about Henry VIII wanting to leave his wife for Anne Boelyn.



September: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

          The final meme of our recap is the standout of the month of September so far. In the beginning of the month, a video of a young girl became huge on the internet. The video features a girl holding her hair between the blades of a pair of scissors. She looks like she is about to cut her hair, but then she moves the scissors and says “Did you really think that I was going to cut my hair? Well, you’re wrong. Never judge a book by its cover.” Though the girl had a good message in mind, the tone and execution of her video amused many people on the internet, who then decided to make their own videos telling people to not judge a book by its cover. Some people simply used the same idea as the young girl, but others chose to begin their videos looking like they were about to do other outrageous things like shaving off their eyebrows or eating soap. Some videos stray from the original video, where in the end the person actually does what they looked like what they were going to do and viewers are told to “always judge a book by its cover.”


The memes mentioned above are the biggest of the year and were all the standouts in their respective months, but there are so many other memes that have coexisted in 2017. Some of these honorable mention memes include “What in Tarnation,” “Roll Safe,” and “Italian Hand.” However, maybe those are for another article. This has been our year so far, retold in memes.