Few things spread more rapidly on the internet that memes — defined as “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes” by Dictionary.com, memes go viral more often than most other internet sensations. Spread on all social media sites, particularly Tumblr and Facebook, memes are an occasionally offensive, but nearly always comical way to state truths about modern society that would otherwise go unreported.
After perusing the Meme Dictionary, a few particularly funny memes have been selected as the top five for 2012, though they’re still going strong thus far in 2013.
Five Memes that Will Make You Chuckle
A funny man himself, Gene Wilder makes a painfully condescending face in this photo, thus giving this meme its name. Used for any and all disdainful messages, some text highlights include “Everything you have to go through sounds so heartbreaking, tell me more how it isn’t your fault” and “Oh, so you use Instagram? You must be a professional photographer.”
A whole album of photos are used for the grumpy cat meme, though they all portray a very unhappy looking flat-faced Siamese cat. Though the internet has always been a haven for cat-lovers, this particular feline pairs the cat craze with a generally disillusioned, miserable attitude. Some winners for this meme: “Having 9 lives would be great, if they weren’t mundane and devoid of meaning,” and “Good morning? No such thing.”
One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor
This meme is much more amusing for the Lord of the Rings fan base, but has become increasingly more popular as science fiction fans have become more vocal on the internet. It shows an image of Boromir, quoted in the movie as saying “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but the text is changed to include anything related to pop culture, for example: “One does not simply leave the EU without damaging the economy.”
Bad Luck Brian
One of the more unfortunate memes circulating the internet is an unfortunately dorky school photo of a boy presumably named Brian, who has, as you might guess from the title of the meme, the worst luck. Some of the best moments include “Goes out for 21st birthday party. Designated driver” and “Wins raffle. Hunger Games.”
Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
A photo from a marathon in South Carolina became the subject of a particularly popular meme, as it documents an attractive, smiling man mid-run — the kind of candid shot that happens once a decade, and only to the fortunate. One of the best text additions to this photo: “Goes for run. Inadvertently teaches the world how to spell ridiculously.”
Check out more top memes of 2012 in this article from ABC.