The Memes That Have Kept Us (Relatively) Sane in 2020

As if this year is in a magic time vortex, we’ve somehow found ourselves in July. We’re well past 2020’s humpday (I’d say humpmonth but that sounds quite disgusting) which is shocking even though January feels like a lifetime ago. Remember the ignorant bliss, the “this is gonna be OUR year” mentality, and not knowing what sleeping and working within the same four walls felt like? I promise it’s somewhere in the far reaches of your brain if you search hard enough. Since happening upon this strange pseudo-apocalypse, you may have noticed our internet habits changing, too. More of us are reaching for our phones for respite, literally begging to be entertained while bored out of our minds, which explains why this year has been pretty stellar in regards to meme content so far. Take a quick look at the online war zone of Twitter at any given moment these past six months and you’ll see users ploughing through meme formats like they’re going out of style. With all that said, as the corona-o-meter steadily cascades from extra hot to lemon and herb, let’s peruse some of the quality memes we’ve been blessed with so far this year:

Marriage Story Fight Scene

I may be part of the small minority of Netflix subscribers who haven’t yet watched this critically-acclaimed movie, but I might as well have from the way I’ve seen it be memed to death from the end of 2019 and right into 2020, from the scene of Scarlett Johansson dancing like she’s living her very best life, to this iconic scene of Scar Jo and Adam Driver having an argument:

There’s something about back-and-forth spats like this that always get meme-ified – just look at its close relatives, the “American Chopper” fight scene or that Real Housewives moment where the woman appears to be arguing passionately with a cat. Perhaps it’s just because we love to vent our frustrations out in a creative way like this, whether those frustrations pertain to incorrect passwords (above), unexpected items in the bagging area, or even how overrated Marriage Story supposedly is:

Bernie is once again asking you…

If you’d told someone a decade ago that a video of a political candidate asking for financial support would turn into one of the funniest moments of 2020 they’d probably think the world had gone on a complete downward spiral. And they’d be right.

It’s moments like this that really beg the question: why do we as a society find the concept of memes so funny? Where did this strange genre of humour come from? And why do I have such an affinity for a picture of Bernie Sanders with cat ears and whiskers? The jury is out.

Regardless, whether you are once again asking for reassurance, forehead kisses or chicken nuggies, this meme is flexible enough to provide whatever is relevant to you right now.

Pointing to text (yep, it’s a thing)

Meme bible website Know Your Meme defines this as the “Pointing to Text or #YouShouldKnow”, a series of TikTok videos where a user walks into the room, points to text, then walks away while the “Map Theme” from Yoshi’s Island plays out. A very basic concept, but with just the right amount of Gen Z-randomness made this incredibly popular on the short-form video platform.  It reportedly comes from a meme back in ye olde days of 2017 where a guy walks into a room and points at some text which reads “I Eat Bees”.

@willsmith

You might need to sit down for this.

♬ original sound – realtsfd

Lockdown has transformed TikTok from a Zoomer-exclusive platform to one used by audiences of all ages, providing wacky yet wonderful meme content for all to enjoy. You’re definitely not alone if you still don’t really get it, though. As a person who only caught onto the brilliance of Vine once it was one year dead, TikTok still eludes me even if I can appreciate its strange brilliance amongst its occasional cringe moments.

Zoomers v. Millennials – The Generational War

Making fun of Boomers is so three months ago. Now it’s all about Gen Z – or zoomers as they’re coming to be known – parodying the oft-hated-on generation of millennials. If like me you’re a young adult in your twenties and thirties, get ready to feel both old and very attacked.

It all started when Twitter user @local__celeb spent a late night perusing the comments of a TikTok video about a zoomer being pissed off at being regularly grouped in with millennials, and they discovered that our (slightly) younger Gen Z brethren are doing an amazing job of generalising the late eighties/early nineties kids. From “adulting is hard”, “see if Buzzfeed knows our favourite wine” or that we all relate to a certain Hogwarts house yet can only afford to rent one bedroom apartments, these statements are both rather hurtful but also painfully true. Oh well, the joke’s on them when they try to get onto the property ladder later this decade…

Go fish, girl

One meme that (in my opinion) perfectly hits the intersection of unequivocally random and stupidly funny is the low-quality, deep-fried Gossip Girl jumble. Incredibly simple, it involves a frame of Blake Lively’s character Serena Van Der Woodsen asking an irreverent question followed by a frame of Leighton Meester’s Blair Waldorf smiling knowingly with a rearranging of the show’s title letters into a perfect answer. Like everything these days, it’s funny because it’s dumb.

If this sort of humour goes completely over your head (or you just don’t find it funny, which is totally valid because it’s really silly), Twitter user @undercoverqueso explains perfectly how the evolution of this meme turns it into something else:

If you share my obsession with this kind of absolute stupidity, at least now you can make it intellectual by letting people know that you appreciate the “referential millennial dadaism” of the piece. I can’t wait for the day that memes make it into museums. I really can’t.

Germs Hate Her! The revolutionary new way to wash your hands

Remember when lockdown first began and your hands were painfully dry from washing them an extra twenty times a day?

2020-in-memes

Who needs to sing “Happy Birthday” when you’ve got a text generator which instantly turns your favourite song into a hand-washing ditty? Honestly, props to this for getting us through the first part of lockdown and keeping things relatively humorous in a time we needed it most.

We are the virus

Arguably the meme most synonymous with lockdown (and the one we’re all gonna be sick of when we’re back in real life, if not already) is Nature Is Healing. What started out as a genuine comment that Venice’s canals had become clear due to a lack of traffic during lockdown snowballed into a way of captioning the most ridiculous fictional moments: squirrels eating pizza, cows returning to the sea, herds of yodelling children returning to aisles of Walmart.

In all seriousness this is genuinely a wonderful side effect to our time in quarantine. Or at least it would be if this was happening everywhere else. Speaking for my neighbourhood in Manchester we’ve noticed way more discarded rubbish than usual and everyone’s hedges are overgrown.

Imagine all the people living for this tube map

A great meme to end with would be one that unites the world in peace and harmony. Unfortunately this one missed the mark. Twitter user @daveloach2 posted a picture from a 2007 Penguin book that supposedly connected most major cities across the world in the style of London’s tube map. While a genuinely intriguing concept and one that in a perfect world would be incredible, this one became a bit of a talking point because of its complete geographical inaccuracy. The original poster can’t really be blamed, however, when both the London tube map and also most maps of the world are pretty inaccurate.

2020-in-memes

As it goes, the creator of the map weighed in to explain that it’s actually meant to be connecting cities with similar metro systems across the globe. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop people from going off with their own versions.

If there’s anything at all left to look forward to for the rest of this year, it’s that we’re only in month seven of twelve, there’s plenty of time for the turns to table and for 2020 to become memorable for more than just being stuck at home with Netflix for company. Or in the event of a second spike, we’ve at least got months of more, potentially even higher quality meme content to get ready for. Either way, every day we’re one step closer to memes becoming truly accepted, beloved high art worthy of curation in a museum.

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