Choosing the most obnoxious internet memes of the year is hard; it's like the opposite of choosing your favorite child: They're all the most obnoxious! Still, we must at least attempt to separate the annoying wheat from the even more annoying chafe. Presenting the most annoying memes of 2012.
This was an especially difficult task this year, because 2012 was the year "Internet meme" as a category officially became meaningless through overuse. "Meme" used to mean bits of web ephemera that bubbled up from the cellars of the internet and, through months and years of improvisation and experimentation by message board users and other geek obsessives, become imbued with the collective creativity of the internet hive mind. Now "meme" means anything that happens on the internet and gets aggregated into a Huffington Post slideshow five minutes later. But at least the insufferable meme oversaturation meant there were plenty to chose from in assembling this list.
1) Texts From Hillary
In April, two Washington D.C. PR guys with too much time on their hands created a joke Tumblr based on pairing an amusing Reuters photo of Hillary Clinton on her Blackberry with unfunny spoofs of text-message-speak and lazy pop culture references. This of course dazzled the easily-dazzled political media, which proceeded to gush over how awesome and hip Hillary Clinton was, for becoming a meme. Clinton rewarded the PR guys for the free 2016 campaign boost with a personal visit. To their credit, the guys shut down Texts from Hillary after a week, just six days and 23 hours after it got old.
2) All Presidential Campaign Memes
Unfortunately, "Texts From Hillary" alerted the political press to the vast amount of content that could be created by covering infinitely stupid things, so long as the stupid things happened on the internet and were packaged as "memes." So the election witnessed a parade of news stories about political "memes" that "went viral," which meant: Some people on Twitter said stupid jokes, then someone with too much time on their hands made a Tumblr and/or parody twitter account based on the stupid jokes, then someone with even more time on their hands wrote an article about it with a slideshow. These memes included:
- Binder's Full of Women
- Fired Big Bird
- You Didn't Build That
- Horses and Bayonets
Luckily we have four years until the next election, at which point, hopefully, the internet will have become self-conscious and evolved into an ethereal membrane of energy floating in the upper reaches of the atmosphere where only birds will be annoyed by the incessant meme-churn.
3) What People Think I Do/What I Really Do Facebook Meme
The "What People Think I Do/What I Really Do" meme descended upon Facebook in February like a plague of locusts upon a drought-wrecked dust bowl farmer's field with the same effect of turning everything it touched into a blasted hellscape. For days, everyone's Facebook feeds were entirely dominated by the same goddamn joke about how our friends' shitty jobs are actually shittier than anyone could imagine. We get it, your lives are terrible.
4) Rage Comics
Rage Comics have been around for years. But in 2012 they cemented their place in the Pantheon of Annoying Memes when the New York Times wrote an article about them, for some reason, which spread their influence far beyond the Reddit/4chan cesspool where they had previously festered, blissfully out of sight of average internet users. Rage Comics are special in that all the most obnoxious aspects of internet memes come together in a putrid jambalaya, including: inscrutable inside jokes, artistic incompetence passed off as a democratic aesthetic, lazy "internet" humor and stupid slang. Now they're on t-shirts; by 2015, if we're unlucky, we'll have a Rage Comics Pixar film.
I was only vaguely aware of Ermergerhd (which was previewed a few slides back) before I solicited suggestions for this list on Twitter and a half-dozen people nominated it instantly. After a few minutes of Googling I could see why. Ermergerhd is a catch phrase that was popularized this year after the image above of a young girl with some Goosebumps books went viral. The idea is, she can't say "oh my god" correctly because she has braces, get it? Now "ermergerhd" stains every comments section and twitter account, because this is the kind of joke that becomes an instant hit on the internet, in 2012. Ermergerhd.
6) Karen The Bullied Bus Monitor
Is this even a meme? Who cares, it was an annoying thing that occurred on the internet so by current logic it's a meme. No matter how hard you worked this year, you likely earned only a fraction of the $700,000 Karen the Bullied Bus Monitor reaped as a reward for being unable to control the children she was paid to look after, then having video evidence of her incompetence posted to the internet. The bus lady signifies that the internet's attention economy is turning into the real economy, which means in the future the only people making money will be cats with cute birth defects and guys with Mason-jar-based Kickstarter projects.
7) BONUS: Best meme: Ecce Homo
The best meme of the year was Ecce Homo, the weird monkey painting that was the result of an old lady's amateur attempt at restoring a 100-year-old painting of Jesus. Stupid but erudite, this is what memes are all about, people.
8) BONUS: Second-best meme: "Save as .DMX"
In April, a YouTube user named Phontomen created this seven-second clip featuring characters from the popular multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 performing DMX's "X Gonna Give It To Ya" to test his skill at animation. Now it has over 1 million views, thanks to popularity on geek message boards and gaming sites. Under the radar of the BuzzFeed-Tumblr-Cheezburger-meme-industrial-complex, "Save as .DMX" is a throwback to the days when memes were truly, beautifully incomprehensible. Be sure to check out the ten-hour loop.