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The Top 10 Things The Internet Couldn’t Stop Talking About in 2017

9 minute read

The internet collectively lost it about matters big and small in 2017. From the Great American Solar Eclipse to “BBC dad,” the on-air expert whose family totally eclipsed his interview in one of the year’s most viral moments, ten stood out.

Relive the year’s buzziest moments in TIME’s list of the top ten things the Internet couldn’t stop talking about.

10. Michelle Obama at the Inauguration

Former First Lady Michelle Obama became an unexpected meme when she was captured giving some so-called pointed side-eye during Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January. Obama later explained she was actually trying to hold back tears as she, her daughters and her husband walked out of the White House, a place they had called home for eight years. However that didn’t stop the Internet from using her expression as a way to communicate how they felt about the controversial transition of power. In one facial expression from Obama, those feeling wary of the new administration found a viral way to project all of their feelings in a single image.

9. Beyoncé’s twins pregnancy announcement

When Beyoncé let the world she was pregnant with not only one, but two future heirs to the Knowles-Carter dynasty in February of this year when she debuted a bare baby bump in a flower-filled Instagram. The Internet promptly came unhinged with levels of joy online reserved for news that pertains to one Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the glorious visual racked up more than 7.2 million likes in less than 20 hours — the most of any photo posted on the platform. Beyond Instagram, celebrities and civilians were abuzz everywhere as they eagerly anticipated the arrival of the world’s most famous twins. It came full circle when Beyoncé turned to another flower and religious iconography-filled Instagram to introduce young Rumi and Sir Carter on their one-month birthday in July.

8. Moonlight wins Best Picture over La La Land at the Oscars

Award shows aren’t always the most riveting TV, but this year’s Oscars definitely made a strong — if strange and shocking — case for viewers to stay tuned until the very end. Playing out much like a drama on the silver screen, Bonnie and Clyde stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced popular feelgood flick La La Land as the winner of the night’s most coveted award, “Best Picture.” Eventually, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced the real winner was indie favorite Moonlight. And as he did, the Internet exploded in hot takes and memes of Horowitz holding up the correct “Best Picture” winner card multiplied. The moment’s biggest contribution may just be making live awards shows exciting again.

7. BBC Dad

Call it the interview seen ’round the world. It’s safe to say no expert analysis has been quite so entertaining this year as the viral Skype interview that Robert E. Kelly gave to BBC that earned him the moniker “BBC Dad.” Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, was discussing the impeachment of South Korea’s president, when his four-year-old daughter Marion crashed his screen time by wandering into his office with a saunter before Kelly pushed her back in the direction of the door. She was soon followed by his eight-month-old son James toddling in a walker and then the pair’s mother, Kelly’s wife, Kim Jung-A, who collected the two, all while Kelly kept going. The verified Internet gold quickly catapulted the family to international fame, but as with most viral things, not without its share of controversy. Kelly eventually addressed what he called the “comedy of errors,” concluding that the whole affair was “terribly cute.”

6. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi

Throwing our current social climate into harsh relief was the tone deaf Pepsi commercial starring reality celebutante-turned-high fashion model Kendall Jenner. The ad, which heavily referenced resistance culture, was widely criticized on social media for commodifying political protests. Many users also took to the web to point out that the closing image of Jenner stopping a conflict between protesters and police officers by handing an officer a can of Pepsi seemed to appropriate a now iconic photo of a Black Lives Matter protestor peacefully approaching armed riot police. Pepsi pulled the controversial commercial just days after debuting. And both the company and Jenner apologized, but the damage may have been done. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., took to Twitter to share a photo of her father being confronted by police while peacefully protesting, with the caption: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”

5. Covfefe

Donald Trump’s Twitter fingers have shown no sign of slowing down despite his occupation of the Oval Office, which is why the Internet couldn’t get enough when the Commander-in-Tweets sent out a now-deleted tweet from his personal account that merely read: “Despite the negative press covfefe.” While many pointed out that this was probably a typo for the word “coverage,” especially because it was released in the wee hours of the morning, the tweet stayed up for hours before it was deleted, launching the Internet into a sweeping debate on Twitter about what, exactly, “covfefe,” meant. The President eventually tweeted out a response that surprisingly seemed to poke fun at his apparent typo, querying his followers, “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’??? Enjoy!”

4. Solar Eclipse

Any event with the ability to touch as many people as the Great American Solar Eclipse is bound to generate some buzz and this eclipse definitely delivered. From preparing for the eclipse by stocking up on the much in-demand eclipse glasses to camping out in the middle of the day for optimal viewing, the solar eclipse was one thing that the country could definitely agree on. The united front of excitement definitely spilled over to the web — from the ubiquitous Instagram selfie sporting dorky protective eyewear to countless snaps of the moon covering the sun, it seems that all that anyone could talk about was the solar eclipse, a point made all the more prescient when one of the Internet’s favorite subjects of discussion, Donald Trump, was captured peering upward sans protective eyewear instantly becoming a meme.

3. Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do”

Leave it to Taylor Swift to command the complete attention of the Internet with a single music video. From residual Kimye beef drama brewing and Katy Perry revisiting their history together, it only makes sense that Taylor Swift, the master of channeling her personal life for material, would reference her “Reputation” with new music and specifically, her lead single “Look What You Made Me Do.” While fans felt the lyrics called out both Perry and Kanye West for what they drove Taylor to “do,” it’s the music video’s visuals, chock full of minute details (those snakes, that tombstone, the myriads of past “Taylors”!) that Swiftie’s intensely scrutinized. The release launched widespread sleuthing on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and birthed many a conspiracy theory. While we’ll never know exactly what Taylor meant with “Look What You Made Me Do,” one thing is abundantly clear — the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now because she’s dead.

2. Donald Trump’s Battle Against the NFL

Although former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been kneeling during the National Anthem at football games since last year to protest police brutality and racial inequality, the #TakeaKnee movement gained traction this year after President Donald Trump spoke out against NFL players who kneeled while speaking at a rally in Alabama where he proceeded to ask the crowd, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a b-tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump doubled down on his comments in a series of tweets lighting up the Internet, where both NFL fans and professional athletes alike sounded off on why they would or wouldn’t be supporting the players who “took a knee.” The NFL and NFLPA released their own statements, supporting peaceful protests, but the most striking responses took place on the field where many players, some complete teams and even owners, made a show of peacefully demonstrating or protesting by either kneeling, linking arms, or raising their fists. Not all players and owners kneeled for the same reasons as Kaepernick, but after the President’s divisive statements, many were compelled to demonstrate to support for freedom of speech.


After allegations of sexual assault and harassment were brought against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the hashtag #MeToo went viral once actor Alyssa Milano asked for those who were sexually harassed or assaulted to respond to her tweet with the phrase “me too,” as a way of showing the scope of the problem. Like the issue of sexual abuse, the “Me Too” movement started long before the viral hashtag and the reckoning for Weinstein when activist Tarana Burke coined the phrase to empower young women of color who were sexually abused. As more stories of public figures abusing their positions of power came to light, #MeToo’s sobering momentum as a movement has grown, offering support to those who have been sexually abused and harassed and letting them know they’re not alone.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com