Although the “I can count to potato” meme predates 2012 by a couple of years—the folks over at Know Your Meme claim the first macro associated with it emerged in 2008—it came back with a vengeance in late April 2012 when Liz Cowter lashed out against the Internet after she discovered that her daughter Heidi, who has Down syndrome, was the subject of the meme’s cruelty.
“These trolls are cowardly, nasty people who should be punished for the damage they are doing to people with their comments,” Cowter toldThe Sun. “Heidi has told me she is very upset by the sites and she turns her head away when we have them on the computer screen.”
Instead of apologizing for making fun of Heidi, online communities like Canvas and the subreddit r/adviceanimals doubled down on their awfulness—turning Liz herself into a meme.
Here’s another meme that was technically created before 2012 but reached online fever pitch in the last 12 months. Good Girl Gina is a spinoff of the Good Guy Greg meme, a macro depicting a man smoking a joint whose actions are selfless and beneficial to others.
But whereas Greg’s goodness stems from how considerate he is, Gina’s stems from what Reddit user LaTex calls “her capacity to serve men.”
“A Good Girl is an object to be lusted after,” wrote LaTex in a lengthy post published on r/ShitRedditSays, a subsection of the site that often calls out fellow redditors on their sexism and racism.
“A Good Girl makes sure you’re sexually satisfied, either by her or someone else. A Good Girl defies stereotypes, unless they play into your desires, like when she cooks for you. A Good Girl plays your video games and watches your movies, and she’ll bring you food and drinks and drugs, but a Good Girl won’t talk about any of those things, because she is a Good Girl. And a Good Girl keeps quiet and doesn’t rock the boat.”
On March 5, the nonprofit organization Invisible Children published a 30-minute short film on YouTube and Vimeo with the intention of making Joseph Kony, head of the terrible African militia Lord’s Resistance Army, the most famous person in the world. The video, which kicked off the Kony2012 campaign, aimed at raising Kony’s profile worldwide so that he would eventually be arrested by the end of 2012.
It didn’t work.
The video became a viral sensation. All of a sudden, people who had no idea Uganda was a country in Africa (much less locate it on a map) were talking about Kony’s atrocities and how he must be stopped. Celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, P. Diddy, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah tweeted a link to the video to their millions of followers. Every single person in the world wanted to stop Joseph Kony at all costs.
But then… nothing happened. Retweets and Facebook posts didn’t solve anything, so people just stopped caring. The meme became one of the better examples of slacktivism gone wrong—and was made worse by allegations of Invisible Children’s mismanagement of funds and founder Jason Russell’s crazy naked breakdown.
But hey, millions of people felt like they did some good.
To me, this meme is the most offensive and annoying of the lot.
This locust of an Internet sensation is a series of panels—usually six of them—that shows different interpretations of a specific job.
According to Know Your Meme, this Internet trend gained popularity after Garnet Hertz first posted one depicting what people think contemporary artists do. The post was shared more than 5,000 times on the social network.
On Feb. 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., while reportedly on patrol for his local neighborhood watch. The incident became national news thanks to Zimmerman’s racially charged language during a 911 emergency call prior to his shooting Martin.
People showed their support for Trayvon Martin by wearing a hoodie, which is what Martin was wearing the night he was murdered. Many snapped selfies and posted them to Facebook with messages of support.
Others took a different route. Insensitive jerkwads started “Trayvoning,” a photo trend inspired by “planking,” where individuals would lie on the ground wearing the aforementioned hoodie, playing dead and holding a can of Arizona iced tea and a bag of skittles—two items Martin had in his hands when he was shot.
A Facebook group briefly appeared but was quickly taken down by the social network. The meme should have ended there, but instead, it jumped over to Tumblr, where it thrived until audiences got tired.
Remember Tebowing? Yeah, we’re trying to forget the biggest sports trend of 2011 too.
Unfortunately, 2012 had its own annoying fad: Bradying.
Bradying became popular after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sat on the field with shoulders slumped and head down after throwing a crucial interception during Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots would go on to lose the game to the New York Giants.
Soon after, everyone was Bradying. The trend even got its own single-serving Tumblr. Bradying became yet another example of the Internet beating a dead horse.
The page, created by two individuals named James and Dom in August 2012, aims at publicly shaming teenage girls who show signs of promiscuity.
“Our intent in building this Facebook page was to bring to light the fact that many young girls under the age of consent are sexualising themselves in provocative photographs that they themselves post on their own Facebook pages to be seen by the world,” they wrote in October 2012.
“Yes, we may have used language and content (publicly available content) that shocked many, that being said though; we did at least bring widespread attention to the issue.”
How noble of these two. Even sadder than this page’s existence is the fact that it has more than 212,000 Facebook likes.
Equally sad: A petition with close to 5,000 signatures asking that Facebook take down the page resulted in the social network adding a “Controversial Humor” tag to the title instead of, you know, taking it down.
Premature Peter is another instance where the Internet had a mean-spirited laugh at the expense of an unsuspecting child.
Earlier this month, a school picture of young boy wearing a T-shirt with the words “I came” emblazoned on it was uploaded to the subreddit r/funny. The post garnered more than 20,000 upvotes (and more than 18,000 downvotes), which resulted in r/AdviceAnimals co-opting the image and running wild with it.
We reported on the trend but made the editorial decision to pull it because of the age of the subject (13) and because his parents wrote us asking us to. For those very reasons, this blurb contains no actual links to the meme.
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Tumblr curated by Fernando Alfonso III (@fernalfonso), Aja Romano (@ajaromano) Gaby Dunn (@gabydunn), and Logan Youree (@loganwtf).