Looking back at a decade of meme evolution

Grumpy cat, one of the first most iconic meme figures of the ’10s (Peter Kramer/NBC, via Getty Images)

By: Oyuky Bahena | General Editor

December 11, 2019

With the new year just around the corner, it seems it’s time to say goodbye to our beloved 2019. But it’s not just the year we’re saying goodbye to—it’s the entire decade!

As high school students, the majority of us most likely did not live through the entire 2000-2010 decade, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to us. However, the 2010-2020 decade is one that we did have the chance to get very acquainted with, so the transition of moving into an entirely new decade with a new generation is daunting. Saying goodbye to the decade means saying goodbye to many childhood TV shows, movies, commercials, toys, etc. But there’s another thing that we need to be ready to partially say goodbye to: our memes.

Now, it’s not really a goodbye to memes. It’s rather a goodbye to the style of them. Throughout the decade, the style of memes has transformed immensely, and so it’d be no surprise if this pattern kept up. Humor evolves, and so do memes. It’s natural.

“Bad Luck Brian,” one of the most popularized memes of the ’10s (Google)

Memes from the early ’10s consisted of normal-looking pictures with funny captions. They were straightforward and got laughs; people enjoyed them.

Notable ’10s memes include Bad Luck Brian, Overly Attached Girlfriend, One Does Not Simply, Success Kid, and more.

As the years went on, however, memes began to evolve. Different social media platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, were introduced, and the race to create the next best meme format was on.

A variation of the “traveling Spongebob” meme heavily popularized in 2019 (Twitter)

Memes went from taking normal pictures and adding a funny caption to editing pictures and providing a more relevant, relatable caption. That way, audience members laughed more and encouraged more memes. Since Instagram was now a well-known social media platform, it prompted a large following for meme accounts, and they continued to make more and more in hopes of continuing to gain a larger following.

“I love meme page accounts,” San Clemente High School senior Rachael Valdez said. “The only thing is, I feel like most memes now come from TikTok and not Instagram directly anymore, which kinda sucks.”

Since the creation of Instagram in 2010, the amount of users on the app continues to rise, with more and more people also creating meme pages to try and attract a large following that beats out their fellow competitors.

“It can get kinda weird,” junior Nelly Morville said. “It gets to the point where people will post anything just to try and be funny, including stuff that shouldn’t be joked about.”

Memes have evolved through the decade in an admittedly mindless way. There’s no way to prevent their change over time, but what’s for sure is that they’re not going away any time soon.

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