The year 2020 hasn’t been great for a lot of reasons — namely, Kobe Bryant’s death, devastating wildfires and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic, to name a few. But this year did bless us with a critical asset for surviving the madness: stellar memes.
Humans have long used humor as a coping mechanism for tragedy, since it helps us find commonality and provides comic relief. Memes can be an effective way of addressing tough topics, psychologists say. That became quite evident this year. There was no shortage of difficulty or tragedy, and so, no shortage of memes attempting to find light in all the uncertainty.
Here are some of the top memes, tweets and TikTok videos that serve as documents of this tumultuous year. This is only a small sample of all the incredibly creative and hilarious content churned out by creators and folks across social media just trying to make it through.
Quarantine memes for those glued to their screens
We’ve all been stuck inside most of the year thanks to COVID-19, which means we’ve spent a lot of time online as we cope with our “new normal.” Because the virus has affected pretty much every aspect of our lives, it’s a theme that runs through many of these memes.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to when the US believed it had a better grip on the pandemic than Italy, and young people who thought they were invincible decided it was the best time to buy cheap plane tickets:
And then we had to figure out how to do this whole quarantine thing:
Let’s hope it’ll also be baby’s last pandemic:
And then came all the Zoom meetings. We had fun with our backgrounds and effects, and it became harder to take some of our bosses seriously:
We also got to see what a Zoom audience looks like, and it’s nothing short of awkward:
With many of us staying home, the environment got a bit of a break from the wear and tear of human activity. When people began sharing pictures (some of which were fabricated) of wildlife returning in the absence of people, the internet did its thing and put a humorous spin on it all:
Hurricanes, elections, pop culture and everything in between
Of course, not everything was directly related to the pandemic. Racial justice began to get the attention it deserves following the police killing of George Floyd. As more people began learning about the Black Lives Matter movement, some became an easy target for meme makers:
It was also a ran out of human names for storms. But earlier on in the year, we had a few good ones up our sleeves:in the Atlantic. We even
This tweet captured everything we felt this year:
One of the most talked about television events was the premiere of The Last Dance, which chronicles Michael Jordan’s journey with the Chicago Bulls and follows the team’s 1997-98 season. It was a compelling and gripping documentary, but the internet always finds ways to feed off anything even remotely humorous:
There were undoubtedly serious issues covered in this year’s US vice presidential debates, but people couldn’t stop talking about one event in particular: when a fly landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s head and didn’t want to leave. This TikTok plays on another viral hit showing Nathan Apodaca listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams while longboarding and casually sipping cranberry juice:
We got other great memes from the US presidential election, including this perfectly versatile Bernie Sanders one that began circulating after the senator once again asked for our financial support:
Then, after Twitter began labeling election tweets with misleading or disputed content, users ran with the theme:
“I’m going to create an environment that is so toxic,” a quote by Sue Sylvester from Glee, was revived across Twitter and expertly applied to various scenarios:
Dolly Parton helped kick off a meme challenge showcasing different personalities for various social media platforms that was all too accurate:
Kim Kardashian showed us money can in fact free you from the shackles of the pandemic. After she posted about flying her closest friends and family to a private island for her birthday, the Twitterverse went wild:
We (again) had no shortage of timeless Leonardo DiCaprio memes:
We also got some good laughs out of the celebrity-filled version of The Princess Bride:
This K-pop-inspired “Georgia fancam” jubilantly acknowledged the state for turning blue during the US elections:
“How it started/how it’s going” became a massive before-and-after meme for 2020:
It also served as a way of commenting on the spread of COVID-19:
The mysterious metallic monolith baffled us, but also provided a blank slate for meme makers and corporations alike:
And as we reflected on this year, we scoffed at all our silly dreams of what 2020 would be before all hell broke loose:
TikTok takes over
The explosion of TikTok brought us an endless supply of hilarity as well, especially during a tense wait for US election results:
One of the best things about the short-form video app is users can share their own spin on content they like — or that they think is ridiculous. This video triggered an insane number of spoofs due to its bizarre messaging and the slightly creepy appearance of its creator:
why y’all never choose another equal to be y’all best friend?? I hate when the ugly one call the pretty 1 “twin” if ur best friend bad as u tag her rn
We took a deep song and used it as the soundtrack for a hilarious trend:
People re-created adorable throwbacks:
Remaking our baby photos 🤣 @xosabrinanicolexo
TikTok helped point out the oftentimes ridiculous nature of influencer culture in the best way possible:
And we envisioned how a time traveler landing in 2020 might react to a year in which there was never a dull moment:
The innocence. The naivete.