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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Viral social media moments from the past four years

Photo Illustration by Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor
Former President Donald Trump’s involvement in inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol led Twitter to permanently suspend his account.

Graduating seniors have lived through their fair share of memorable viral pop culture moments.

Some of these landmark events may be seared into your brain forever and some you probably haven’t thought about since they happened. Indulge in the nostalgia and reflect on how simple some moments on the internet felt to us all just four years ago.

For the graduating class of 2021, we’ve compiled some standout cultural moments that went viral while you were in college.

GW’s a cappella group, the GW Sirens, went viral for singing “Quiet” at a Women’s March in D.C. The video garnered 21 million views on Facebook and the group was invited to perform on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

An awkward moment at the Oscars gained buzz with the Best Picture award mistakenly going to “La La Land” and then being revoked and rightfully awarded to “Moonlight,” but not before creators of “La La Land” had begun their acceptance speeches.

On social media, 2017 also brought us the still-used “Distracted Boyfriend” meme, which shows a boyfriend admiring another girl while holding his girlfriend’s hand, who is visibly upset by what is happening.

During the second semester of this year’s seniors’ freshman year, 2018 brought fame to lovable icons like Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty and Mason Ramsey, the 12-year-old Illinois native who went famous for yodeling in a Walmart.

Social media users everywhere hopped out of cars to do the “In My Feelings” challenge to the Drake song, starting a dance with the lyrics “Kiki, do you love me?”

Nicholas Anastacio | Graphics Editor

First Lady Melania Trump made headlines for donning a Zara jacket that read “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” in large letters on a trip to visit immigrant children separated from their families at the border.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in a joint hearing before Senate committees and went viral when Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch asked how the social media platform made money and Zuckerburg replied “Senator, we run ads.”

During their sophomore year, School of Media and Public Affairs Associate Professor Dave Karpf went viral on Twitter after tweeting a photo of an email he received from New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who was offended by a separate tweet in which he was likened to a bed bug by Karpf. The email was carbon copied to then-Provost Forrest Maltzman.

As a quirky challenge, an Instagram post of a picture of an egg broke Kylie Jenner’s record for most liked Instagram photo by racking up more than 50 million likes.

One of 2019’s most out-of-this-world events occurred when more than 2 million people RSVP’d to a Facebook event planning to “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All Of Us.” The plot was an effort to uncover what the government might be hiding in the classified area.

Unsurprisingly, the rundown for 2020 feels like it is at least three years long. We could tell this year was off to a bad start when, within the first three months, fears circulated of a third World War, President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial began and news of a virus began circulating.

With everyone spending ample time indoors in quarantine, TikTok exploded as a social media and content sharing platform. Trends circulated at warp speed with millions of creators recreating dances to Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”

Last year’s presidential election produced a treasure trove of memes, from Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign video in which he states “I am once again asking you for financial support” to former President Trump’s interview with a visibly dissatisfied Jonathan Swan of Axios.

The first debate made headlines for the vitriolic display on behalf of both candidates in which now-President Joe Biden exclaimed at one point “Will you shut up man?” The debate was a trending topic on Twitter and stirred plenty of controversy. The election memes concluded with Vice President Kamala Harris’ candid “We did it Joe” reaction to the pair’s win.

This year’s seniors’ graduation year started off with a bang six days into the year when an insurrection protesting the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol on the day of the election certification. President Trump’s involvement in inciting this riot promptly resulted in the permanent suspension of his infamous Twitter account.

The viral moment from this year’s inauguration came in the form of Sanders, who showed up to the prestigious event in a practical brown coat and vibrant, knitted mittens with a manila envelope tucked under his arm. This image was then recycled in nearly every news publication and turned into a meme on countless companies’ social media accounts like Benefit Cosmetics’ use of the meme to have Sanders sitting in a salon chair, ready to be made over.

The vaccine rollout has triggered comparisons and jokes on social media pitting the three U.S. distributors — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — against each other, and people shared their best coping mechanisms to deal with the side effects. Most hyped up the Pfizer vaccine and made fun of the other two. Most notably, videos have circulated of people of all ages aggressively windmilling their arms post-vaccine to stave off the soreness.

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