Top Internet Memes in 2013

by anitalite

Internet memes start off as an image that goes viral and spreads from person to person. To the casual observer they are confusing and new ones are created all the time.

Have you ever wondered where the picture of the grumpy cat that is taking over your Facebook feed came from, or what "honey badger don't care" actually means? If so, you might enjoy this guide to the most popular recent internet memes. I've always been fascinated by the origins of things that seem very common in society, and have tried to trace the beginning of the various pictures that are spreading through cyberspace.

New memes are being "born" all the time, which is great. Unfortunately it also means that excellent old ones are being forgotten. It truly saddens me when I say "all your peanut are belong to me" in the pub, and am met by puzzled stares from friends who should really no better. And as to philosoraptor, or insanity wolf, when was the last time you saw them on Facebook? They are now critically endangered creatures!

What is a "Meme"

From Evolutionary Biology to the Grumpy Cat

The word meme was coined by evolutionary biologists and warrior against all religion Richard Dawkins.  He presented it as a cultural equivalent of a gene, a unit for spreading ideas, beliefs or behaviours that is transmitted from person to person until it becomes embedded in a culture.  He intentionally made the word similar to "gene", the unit of genetic information.

Of course the internet improved the process of meme transmission to previously unimaginable speeds.

Grumpy Cat

The Most Popular Meme Right Now?

The grumpy cat craze can be traced to Sept. 23rd 2012, when Bryan Bundesen (Cataliades) posted a picture of his sister's Tabatha's cat on reddit.  This was immediately picked up by other redditors who let their captioning and photoshopping imaginations run wild.  

Grumpy cat looks like a snowshoe cat, a rare breed created from siamese cats with white socks crossed with American shorthairs.  It seems that you shouldn't judge a cat by its face, Grumpy Cat, or rather Tard, apparently has a very sunny and friendly disposition, as her owner testifies in the interview below.

Interview with Grumpy Cat

Honey Badger No Care

This phrase mystified me for quite a while.  I mean who is this honey badger, and why does he not care (and about what?).

The phrase is first used by "Randall" a narrator of a viral video from 2011 that used footage from Nat Geo Wild, showing honey badgers attacking and eating snakes, stealing honey from beehives and generally coming out the winners in fights with a variety of dangerous animals.  Throughout the video "Randall" keeps repeating that "Honey Badger don't care".

The youtube video had 60 million views.

The Origins of the Honey Badger Don't Care Meme


Why would a moustache graphic appear in so many places on the internet?  Ok I have to admit that this trend still mystifies me.  I am only aware of it because of the number of very popular products with the iconic, isolated stache on them.  

My main thought is that this is something to do with Movember, which organises men to get sponsored to grow their upper lip hair during the month of November and donate the money for prostate cancer research.  If you know anything definite about this, please let me know in the comments.

Rage Faces

Rage Guy, Eternally Lonely, and Others

These crudely drawn but cute faces are characters in rage comics-used to tell illustrate typical real life stories.  Many of the faces are not actually experiencing rage.  However, since the prototype, rage guy, made his first appearance on 4Chan's board in 2008, to express his anger, the name rage faces is used for all the characters.

The cast of faces has grown hugely and includes favourites such as the "no" guy, the "y u no" guy, me gusta (I like) and many others.  There is even an Obama rage face.

There are several online generators that allow people to quickly create and publish their own rage comics.

Obama Not Bad Rage Face
Obama Not Bad Rage Face

Older Internet Memes

As new memes appear, older ones get used less and are in danger of being forgotten.  Which is a pity, because some of my favourite ones, invented during the early days of computer gaming and bulletin boards are some of the best ones.  

Below are three of my favourites.

Courage wolf meme
Courage wolf meme

Courage Wolf Meme

The courage wolf, the best life coach you can have, started giving internet users advice around 2008, although the exact date is uncertain.  The meme is based on a photo of a snarling grey wolf taken by photographer Jeff Vanuga.

The wolf joined and eventually superseded Advice Dog on bchan4.

All Your Base Are Belong to Us


This is probably the oldest meme I can remember, although I am sure there have been many others.  The phrase comes from the hilarious translation of the Japanese game Zero Wing into English released in 1991.  

The phrase became widely used after it was popularised on the Something Awful message board.

Have a look at the cut scenes from the game below in the video below, as well as the many places where it has appeared since then. 

Although I have to say that the  phrase "You have no chance to survive make your time" is also worthy of mention

Updated: 04/28/2013, anitalite
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anitalite on 05/21/2013

Thanks Mira and Jo. The all your base meme is one of my favourites.

JoHarrington on 05/21/2013

That video was great! All your base are belong to us. I giggled from start to finish. Me gusta.

Mira on 05/21/2013

Oh, I had forgotten about "All your base are belong to us" :))) It was great to watch the video again :):)

HollieT on 05/03/2013

Possibly, the mustache certainly dominates Zazzle's site!

anitalite on 05/02/2013

Thanks Hollie. I really like finding out the origins of various cultural phenomena. Really hope somebody is gonna have the answer for the mustache mystery? Maybe it's not a meme at all. Maybe it's just something crazy Zazzle has come up with?

HollieT on 04/29/2013

Excellent, I love grumpy cat and I had absolutely no idea where honey badger don't care came from. I do now. Still have no idea about the mustache though.

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