M Is for Memes: #10YearsofYouTube

May 14, 2015

Meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) noun: "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

The video meme emerged as one of YouTube's most beautiful and, in many cases, perplexing side effects this past decade as we watched our jokes, dances, and selfies take on innumerable variations and iterations in the hands of the masses.

10 years ago, the idea of creating a grand creative moment together across a large community of people seemed impossible. Today, the number of Harlem Shakes totals in over 1.5M, the word "autotune" appears in over 900,000 video descriptions, and 150 creators have a "Draw My Life" video with over 1M views. You poked fun at and subverted innumerable stereotypes with "S--t __ Says" memes. You created Nyan Cats in every imaginable variety, and you watched people dump buckets of ice water on their heads (for charity) well over a billion times. Our scientific estimates place the total number of Rickrolls in the 250M range.

When you look back at what we decided to broadcast of ourselves this past decade, you realize that what we each did that was different was not always as interesting as what we did that was the same.

Whether you were planking, owling, or ostriching (never quite caught on), you were doing something that may have seemed incredibly silly individually but was undeniably fun and unique in aggregate. You made a world where entertainment was something you could participate in and make your own. And no one can take that away from you. No matter who your base belong to.

-- Kevin Allocca