The Best Memes Of 2020 So Far



Dictionary.com says a meme is, “a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.” Merriam-Webster defines “meme” as, “an idea, behavior style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” 

But here is where we go full-on galaxy brain. Wikipedia, of all places, has one of the most intense takes on memes, describing them as, “a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution.” According to that definition, with every edit and remix, we breathe life into memes, and when they drop out of circulation they die. So like living things, memes fight for survival “through processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance.” 

Black Mirror writers, take note because Wikipedia also says that, “memes that replicate most-effectively enjoy more success and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.”

At their best, memes are supremely funny. Like so funny they are absolutely worth the hours we spend on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Pinterest. And as the French word for same, même, might suggest, memes are best described in relation to their sameness. 

Memes have come a long way from the Forever Alone Potato and I Can Has Cheezburger. We’ve evolved past the success of baby and doge. The black-trimmed white block letters have given way to Snapchat and Instagram fonts. The fact that TikTok encourages users to duet and add themselves to a blockchain audio track makes it the biggest and baddest meme factory on the internet. Here, we’ll slowly document all the highs and milestones memes will reach in 2020.

April: Animal Crossing Memes


Enough people have gotten their hands on Nintendo Switches and Animal Crossing: New Horizons to have a robust meme catalog. These memes don't just joke about the actual game, like this incredible hype version of Isabelle's song or finding "creative" ways to pay off your debt to Tom Nook. The Animal Crossing memes on TikTok show that people are playing the game to cope with life under lockdown.

April: Nature Is Healing


This is easily one of the funniest and aptest memes of our times. It mixes sci-fi with internet absurdity to document this truly unique moment we're experiencing. On the one hand, the human species is fighting a pandemic. On the other, all that time spent inside is lowkey doing the environment some good.

But not that much good: The "nature is healing" meme was first a fake news report gone viral. Once a lot of the original posts were debunked, the internet got really creative with the memes, and this Lisa Frank one is certainly the best.

April: Me On March 1 vs. Me On April 1


It has been a long month. And that's referring to both March and April.

After a collective agreement to not celebrate April Fool's (because these times are cursed enough), we woke up in April dazed but mostly shocked at how much had happened in just a month. On March 1, anything was possible, but by April 1, we had become jaded.

But of course, not everyone was bright-eyed-and bushy-tailed on March 1, so a counter meme emerged where March 1 and April 1 look exactly the same.

March: Zoom Memes


It might just be time to declare that 2020 will be the year of the laugh-to-stop-from-crying meme. The World War III memes set the stage in January, and now in March, we've grown used to the coronavirus memes. These memes point to the absurd and ridiculous realities that make everything so precarious right now. As we reach cruising altitude, we're settling into life made up of Zoom classes, Zoom meetings, and Zoom social lives.

March: Nero Trump


President Trump confusingly retweeting a meme of himself being compared to Nero (the Roman emperor that played the fiddle while Rome burned).

March: #WashYourLyrics


Hand-washing has never been so important. But it took a TikTok collaboration between a dancer and the Vietnamese Health Ministry to get people to take it seriously. Over in America, it was the work of a UK-based developer, who created a website where you can search a song and generate a hand-washing diagram, that got people to commit to their civic duty.

February: Confused Billie Eilish


Ever the posterchild of Gen Z angst and indifference, Grammy-darling Billie Eilish was deeply confused during this year's Oscars. Behold the face Gen Z makes when millennials start reminiscing about Feist and landlines.

February: Bloomberg's Memes


This is the political advertising equivalent of Steve Buscemi saying, "How do you do fellow kids?" In his bid for president, Michael Bloomberg paid an Avengers-style cohort of meme accounts to run meme-ads for his campaign. The memes followed an unflattering DM format where the Bloomberg campaign's Instagram account clumsily asks popular memers to, well, meme him.

January: World War III


This is most likely the first meme of 2020 and, in retrospect, it seems to have predicted the range of instability this year has brought so far.

During the first week of January, we learned that President Trump ordered the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian government official. A general understanding of world history will likely lead you to the realization that such assassinations have often been cited as catalysts for wars, world wars to be exact.

So what else are we to do as a society, if not laugh through the anxiety? More than any other meme before it, World War III memes taught us that we cope best when we laugh.

January: TikTok's Rosa 


Welcome to the Rosa Cinematic Universe. You got a dollar?

Rosa was born a TikTok character as some kind of parody of a latinx highschooler from Los Angeles. She is lovably loud and anyone raised in a latinx community knows that there are two kinds of people: those who ask for dollars and those who forfeit them.

This meme started to gain momentum in the very last days of 2019, when TikTok users started dueting with Rosa, challenging her request for slushy money, and, with later videos, flirting with the star of the Rosa Cinematic Universe. Then her video about connecting with a gay classmate came out, and it became an instant template for everything from celebrity encounters to viral tweets.

But it wasn't until 2020 that this character took achieved viral meme status with Irish, French, Shakespearean, and even Simlish version of "You got a dollar?"

January: "I am once again asking for your financial support"


Not only is he on the other end of the Democratic spectrum, but Bernie's meme moment of 2020 is the literal opposite of Bloomberg's – it's successful, a testament to the power of the image macro.

According to Know Your Meme, the first known meme based on the 2019 ad emerged on Reddit in mid-January. The accompanying text (and the comments that followed) can be interpreted as total disdain for "Bernie bros" – the perceived dominant demographic of Bernie Sanders supporters. In its inception, this was a meme that made fun of left-wing trust fund babies. But its viral success has assured that every possible version of this meme – favorable to Bernie, unfavorable, and unrelated – now exists.


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