2015's best memes and viral videos, from Left Shark to cats with cucumbers

What do llamas, a rat, peas, and pyramids have in common? They're all part of 2015's hottest, most viral online happenings.

left shark

Give yourself a hearty round of applause, folks. 2015 was quite a year for the Internet. 

It became clear we were in for a doozy of a year early on, when a dancing shark, a color-shifting dress, and runaway llamas took the Internet by storm. Add in a fierce Presidential election run-up in the United States, the ongoing online reign of our feline overlords, and everyday online goings-on, and bam! The tweets practically wrote themselves this year.

Here are ten of the biggest memes and viral sensations of 2015.

Left Shark dances to its own beat

Super Bowl halftime shows are usually carefully considered, highly choreographed affairs.

Usually. 

During Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime performance of “Teenage Dream,” an awkwardly-out-of-time dancer in a shark costume stole the show. And thus, the legend of Left Shark was born. Left Shark became an instant online phenomenon, and was the subject of countless Twitter jokes and online memes.  

Llamas on the lam

February 26, 2015 will be a day that the Internet will never forget.

It started with news that the FCC passed new net neutrality rules that classified broadband Internet access as a utility, helping preserve a free and open Internet. It continued when the world watched—and tweeted—as two escaped llamas ran freely around the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Sun City. The llamas were eventually corralled, thus ending the chase, but not before giving us all something fun to tweet about.

But! We had one more thing to celebrate on that fateful day...

Dressed to impress—and confuse

the dress via wikipedia Credit: via Wikipedia

It’s black and blue...and gold and white.

Capping off The Internet’s Best Day Ever was the dress that...nobody quite knew what to make of. Was it blue and black? Was it white and gold? It was a question that pitted neighbor against neighbor and tore families apart from the moment the photo began making the rounds on social media.

The dress, by the way, is indeed blue and black, according to musician Caitlin McNeil, who saw the dress in person; the dress only appears white and gold to some because the photo is washed-out and poorly lit.

As to why different people saw different colors, you can blame the brain. According to Wired, the photo “hits some kind of perceptual boundary” in terms of how individuals discern light and color, resulting in the differences in perception. 

For Pizza Rat, the struggle is real

Rats are a common sight in New York CIty’s subway system . But the sight of a rat dragging a slice of pizza down a stairway? That isn’t something you see every day.

YouTuber Matt Little’s 14-second clip of a rat trying to secure its dinner has racked up over 8.6 million views since it went live in late September. Why? Maybe Pizza Rat represents the struggles we all face on a daily basis as we try to make ends meet. Maybe Pizza Rat is us.

Or, maybe it’s just a video of a ridiculously hungry rat. 

Ben Carson Wikipedia: The truth behind the truth (or something)

Ben Carson says things. Sometimes, the things the Republican presidential candidate says run counter to well-established historical facts. Case in point: In November, a video from a 1998 commencement addressed surfaced, in which the famed neurosurgeon insisted that Joseph from the Old Testament built the Egyptian pyramids in order to store grain. (Of course, historians and archeologists say the pyramids are actually ancient tombs for Egyptian pharaohs.) 

Carson’s remarks spawned #BenCarsonWikipedia, in which Twitter users shared their own “facts” that seem like things Ben Carson would have uttered. Some highlights:

#IStandWithAhmed

14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed just wanted to impress his teacher. So he did what any self-respecting geek would do: He built something. But instead of receiving praise and encouragement for his handiwork—a digital clock in a metal case—he was arrested over fears that the clock was a bomb.

Word of Ahmed’s story spread quickly around the Web, with scores of people taking to Twitter and Facebook to stand with Ahmed. Even President Obama took to Twitter to show his support and invited Ahmed to visit the White House. 

For all the nastiness that happens online, #IStandWithAhmed reminds us that the Internet can be a powerful force for good.

If you give a cat a cucumber...

...it’s probably going to freak out. The Internet learned that late this year when, for whatever reason, people decided to scare their cats with cucumbers and post their cats’ reactions on YouTube. Poor cats. :-(

As for why cats respond the way they do to these bumpy, slightly misshapen vegetables, nobody quite knows for sure. But National Geographic warns that intentionally frightening your cats could seriously stress out your pets. Don’t do it.

Internet says NOPE to guacamole with peas

When I say “guacamole,” you probably think of avocado. The New York Times begs to differ, and it rankled more than a few Internet denizens when it dared suggest that you add peas to your guac.

Peas? Please. Even President Obama expressed his displeasure:

To be fair, the Times didn’t suggest that you replace avocados with peas altogether, but it says that peas will “add intense sweetness and a chunky texture to the dip” and help keep your guac from turning brown after a day or two. 

Drake dances; parodies ensue

Drake’s Hotline Bling may have rocketed up the charts since its release in July, but it’s the video that made the song a thing. The video, which consists of Drake dancing, uh, somewhat awkwardly, has garnered over 230 million views on YouTube as of this writing. It’s also spawned countless parodies, like this one featuring the smooth moves of Mr. Bean.

But our absolute favorite? The Star Wars edition:

Supportive skater goes viral

When Jeanean Thomas of Ontario, Canada took her young daughter to the local skatepark for the first time, she worried her daughter would feel intimidated by the other, more experienced skaters. After a short while, one young skater—later identified as 20-year-old Ryan Carney—approached Jeanean’s daughter and spent nearly an hour with her, helping her learn to skate.

Appreciative of Ryan’s gesture, Jeanean posted a lengthy thank-you note on Twitter. Her note went viral, receiving almost 40,000 retweets and considerable media attention.

This story, "2015's best memes and viral videos, from Left Shark to cats with cucumbers" was originally published by PCWorld.

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