Remembering 7 of the best memes of the 2010s

Buzzfeed has a fantastic round-up of the 100 Best Memes of the Decade you should read.

Inspired by that A+ quality journalism, I did some thinking about some of my favorite memes and how they impacted my life in the last 10 years. Luckily I have all kinds of content to go back and revisit.

The Harlem Shake, Double Rainbow, Bronies, Gangnam Style, Nickelbacking and more!

The Harlem Shake

This was a huge hit at my house – in part because someone made a mobile app that allowed you to quickly record your version of it.

Here are 5 videos of just my kids doing it: THE HARLEM SHAKE, STARRING THE SWAN FAMILY

I was on vacation at some point when this was blowing up, and my coworkers recorded this in my office and texted it to me. That’s a lot of people for a small office.

Later, I hosted a bunch of students for a Pro-Am day and made them record a Harlem Shake of their own. About a year ago one of these young people (now a professional, mind you) told me it was the single most memorable moment of her career:

Double Rainbow

There was a time when EVERYBODY was talking about the Double Rainbow guy.

At work, we celebrated being named Digital Firm of the Year with a double rainbow cake

And then I played the video for my in-laws. There is a long history of me playing viral videos for them and them giving him quizzical expressions, like “Okay, Greg…. cool. Is it over?”


I remember reading about grown men obsessed with My Little Ponies, called Bronies. But it wasn’t until I watched a documentary called “A Brony Tale” in 2014 and saw this Led Zeppelin-inspired “Friendship is Magic” shirt that I actually started getting into the series.

Err… ummm… no I mean that I ordered this shirt and learned to draw a couple My Little Ponies so I could troll my daughter. Yeah, that’s it…

Gangnam Style

I frequently cite this Gizmodo story, Gangnam Style Broke YouTube’s View Counter, where that the viral video for Gangnam Style had its views stall out at 2,147,483,647 views.

That is apparently  the maximum number that can be held by a 32-bit integer slot. YouTube’s developers just never expected something to get that high.

It’s fixed now. And the video is at 3.4 billion views (and climbing!).

And I’m glad my kids are no longer doing this dance and yelling “Hey Sexy Lady!” and instead are just doing the Fortnite dances that involve no yelling.


A key part of my conference presentations and keynotes in the early 2010s involved trolling Nickelback. I’ll admit I once saw Nickelback live and probably clapped. Or maybe I saw Creed live. I can’t remember. They’re not the same right?

There was a period where Nickelback was becoming extremely popular with the mainstream masses, and it was super easy to get a rise out of people by talking about how terrible they were.

I would play this track that shows that their hit singles could be layered atop each other and line up, and that would really bother people.

How You Remind Me of Someday (Nickelback vs. Nickelback)

Then, this thing called “Nickelbacking” started – a trend similar to Rick Rolling – where you try to get people to listen to Nickelback as a joke. I began to implore people not to do that, as the band was profiting from the joke streams. That got shared around quite a bit. Most of the links are dead, since my music blog is dead now.

A band wrote a guest post for my music blog called “7 Ways a Nickelback CD Can Help You Survive a Plan Crash” that included things like using it as anesthetic while you’re sawing off your friend’s limb.

I spent a lot of the last decade publicly poking this band, and as a result, people bring them up to me often. Send me news about them. Act like it’s still a bit I’m doing. But it’s not!

So I’m hopeful the 2020s won’t involve people remind me of Nickelback all the time. It’s the meme that won’t stop giving.

What Does the Fox Say?

What does the fox say? Ask your Alexa. Really. Try it!

Ylvis’ “What Does the Fox Say” was pervasive and an absolute ear-worm. It’s hard to believe it was only six years ago that this song was blaring everywhere.

Here is a video of my kids watching a video of themselves watching the What Does the Fox Say video…

Sadly, the below Vine video I recorded of my son watching What Does the Fox Say on Google Glass is no longer available – in part because neither Google Glass or Vine is a thing now. RIP.

Polar Vortex!

Last winter was so cold we almost forgot to make memes about it!

My kids had yet another “cold day” off from school – which is a big deal for Minnesota – and I said “let’s make something go viral!” And we did! You can read all about it here.

Those frozen pants got picked up by BuzzFeedIFL ScienceBoredPandaDistractifySomeecards22 Words, the front page of Imgur, and news pubs in CanadaIrelandIndiaSpain, Japan, and Serbia!! 

Two kids thought it was hilarious. One was embarrassed.

And someone on Reddit went deep and used my house number to reverse search me and tell me everything about myself they could find online. That wasn’t creepy at all!

So those are some of my favorite memes of the decade. What will be the most memorable memes and cultural hooks of the next 10 years? Only one thing is for certain: they will be weird AF.

For the record, I’m still a fan of Rick-Rolling people, which is actually a 2007-2009 meme, but I’m never gonna give it up…


Social Pulse, Week of 12-16

The 100 Memes That Defined The 2010s: Here’s a rabbit hole worth going down. It’s a Buzzfeed roundup that took three reporters ten years to write. From planking to icing, What Does the Fox Say? to Harlem Shake, Double Rainbow to deep-fried memes, there are SO MANY amazing cultural and socially-shareable moments that happened in the last decade. Give yourself a good 30 minutes to get through this article.

The Age of Instagram Face: The New Yorker writes about the plastic surgery phenomenon of trying to achieve the “FaceTuned” look of a perfect social media selfie.

The Top 12 Amazon Patents of 2019: reporter Jonathan Capriel went deep on Amazon’s patent filings from 2019 and came up with this list of the most interesting Amazon patents of the year, including: a patent for a drone that deploys a balloon as it delivers packages to increase buoyancy and reduce noise; a patent that uses cameras to sense microexpressions on a customer’s face in an Amazon Go store to know if they need assistance; a patent to project a users’ nose in a VR headset to reduce queasiness; and a patent to launch repair drones out of a moving train. The future is going to be awesome!

Troll Your Cat With This Snapchat Filter: This week people are using a cat-faced Snapchat filter to test their cats’ cognition, which is startling low considering how smart cats are. Key quote: “It appears the cat recognizes that their owner’s face should be on the phone, but it is not… Because there’s not much research on cat cognition, we don’t know how cats interact with screens, or how they would perceive the properties of screens…”

Facebook’s 2020 Topics and Trends Report: Podcasts have exploded. Flexitarian diets are on the rise. And baths are moving back into the American mainstream as people embrace different forms of self-care. All of these insights from Facebook IQ’s 2020 Topics and Trends Report, which you can download via PDF here.

Please Work: There’s an emerging meme format leveraging Twitter’s minimized thumbnail photos and gifs that can combine for some hilarious and thumb-stopping effects. But it’s not an exact science, and thus why people are using the copy “Please work” when publishing them. See a roundup here.

Layout on Instagram: As rumored, this week Instagram launched the ability to capture and share multiple photos in an Insta Story natively in the app. Although not as powerful as third-party apps, being included in the native app will increase scale and utility for most users.

Real-Time Translation on Your Phone Right Now: The updated Google Assistant app for iOS and Android includes a new “Interpreter Mode” that brings real-time translation to your phone. It’s truly revolutionary, and you have to try it out! Download Google Assistant. Open the app and tell it the language you want it to translate (e.g., “Hey Google, be my Spanish translator”). It’s amazing.

App of the Week: Photo Roulette picks random photos from you and your friends’ phones, and then you compete to guess whose photo is shown. Just be sure there aren’t any photos in your Camera Roll you don’t want share! Download it here.

“Alexa, change the subject!” Some pseudo-pop-research released by Amazon this week says 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Day is the time when family arguments are most likely to break out. So they’ve released a feature that prompts Alexa to step in with a “distraction technique.” Just say “Alexa, change the subject,” and the virtual assistant will offer an ice breaker or non-political conversation starter. You’re welcome in advance.