Ten Unforgettable Web Memes

Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream. Which ones did we miss?

Chuck Norris became an Internet sensation when late night host Conan O'Brien featured clips from "Walker, Texas Ranger" on his show. (© Cannon / courtesy Everett Collection)

Flash mob (2003)

Pillow fight flash mob
(Johannes Eisele / Reuters / Corbis)
The flash mob phenomenon, where a large group of people momentarily gathers in a public place to engage in a predetermined act of spontaneity, apparently began in 2003 when Bill Wasik, a senior editor at Harper’s magazine, organized the first event. Sending a mass email to friends and colleagues, he instructed them to meet at Macy’s where they were to go to a rug in the back of the store and tell the clerk they were part of a commune and in need of a “love rug.” The 200-person event generated a lot of online buzz and soon people all over the world were using the Internet to connect with others and organize their own flash mobs. The meme has since spread to other forms, including pillow fights (above) and fake birthday parties. The meme has even take a post-modern turn, where advertisers looking for a social buzz hire performers to fake a flash mob. In 2009, as a promotion for a new reality series, a Belgian TV station hired 200 dancers to perform the song “Do Re Mi” in an Antwerp train station. -- JR

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