Memes are everywhere. Easily sharable on any social media platform, and instantly remixable with little technical effort, they've become visual vehicles to share our thoughts with the outside world.
But where do they come from?
That's where KnowYourMeme comes in, a sort of Wikipedia for memes that covers a meme's journey from inception to viral hit, along with its inevitable decline, and in some cases, its crossover into popular culture.
Here are the origin stories behind 7 of the most widely shared memes on the internet.
A meme so ubquidious that its origin was explained in a long-form Vanity Fair article, the viral phenom started innocently enough. Maggie Goldenberger, the "ermehgerd" girl had the picture taken while her and her friends took turns dressing up in the most ridiculous clothes they could find while striking funny faces and poses. These images were eventually scanned and uploaded to Facebook, where the Reddit user xWavy randomly came across it. xWavy posted it on Reddit, where the initial thread titled "BERKS" received over 17,000 upvotes.
Although term "philosoraptor" can be traced back to a forum post created back in 1998, the popularized visual of the portmandeau was created in 2008. The image was created by Sam Smith as a t-shirt design for the website LonelyDinosaur. The spread of the Philosoraptor is an product of good timing, the image became popular just as memegenerator.com launched, letting people add their own text without any image editing programs.
The Neil deGrasse Tyson reaction
The digitally outlined image of Tyson, typically associated with the phrase: "Watch out guys, we're dealing with a ba***s over here," was created because of a reaction Tyson gave in a video praising Isaac Newton in 2011. The reaction was turned into a GIF, which was posted by Reddit user Hippopoptimus_Prime in the r/trees subreddit. The drawn image was created by Reddit user Onlyhereforthelaughs, which was posted in the /r/f7u12 subreddit, where it was seen by Redditer fairlydeadfellow who provided the associated caption.