Before we fully free ourselves from the last decade, let us not forget all of the fleeting obsessions, challenges, crazes and movements that, for better or for worse, defined an era. Of course, trends are a fleeting thing, and love and hate are subjective emotions. So to all of you minion lovers and doggo-speak haters, we apologize in advance.
First, the Razor scooters came to cut everyone’s ankles off. Then around 2014, these weird contraptions took over, bridging the gap between scooters, motorized skateboards and Segways. Oh, and they often exploded. All around, a low point in the timeline of trendy transport items.
Loved: Epic franchises
Raise your hand if you felt victimized by a long-running epic movie, television or book franchise this decade. “The Avengers“? “Game of Thrones“? “The Hunger Games“? “Star Wars“?! Everyone’s hands should be up. Oh, the level of emotional investment is almost too intense to think about.
Hated: Remakes for remakes’ sake
Everything old was new again at the movies. Sure, it made for some fun, modern takes; whether it was a live action remake of an animated classic or a jazzed-up CGI version. But somewhere between 2015’s “Cinderella” and 2019’s “The Lion King,” it all started to feel like an exhausting cash grab. Don’t agree? Just check the reviews.
Loved: Body-positive marketing
Hey, you know what’s nice to see? Skin texture! Stretch marks! Soft parts that actually fold when folded! Flesh tones other than beige! Different shapes and abilities! You know, normal depictions of normal people in the world around us. Whether it was in advertising, media or even the toy aisle, brands started ditching the blur tool and incorporating more diverse (aka accurate) representations of humankind.
While body positive marketing had its heyday, the rise of Instagram culture ushered in a new kind of fakery. With filters, editing apps and a whole economy built around perfection, people don’t look at edited images anymore, they create them. With the ultra-smooth, uncanny valley look being harder to separate from reality, we could be hurtling straight into a (very airbrushed) “Black Mirror” episode.
Loved: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Ice Bucket challenge, which gained traction in the summer of 2014, was the perfect antidote to “slacktivism,” the notion that people can get a false sense of accomplishment just by hitting the “like” button for causes they care about. The online challenge did a whole lot of real-world good, and helped set the stage for the internet to be a true crucible for change rather than an impotent virtue signalling tool.
Hated: Pretty much any other internet challenge
While some people were figuring out how to use social media to raise money and awareness for important causes, others were getting famous by huffing cinnamon or pretending to eat Tide Pods. Hey, every coin has two sides.
Doggos. Puppers. Borkers. Woofers. Cattos. Silly meme talk or a full-on embrace of the wholesome, childlike affections only animals can inspire? We vote that this elevated mode of animal baby talk, which went mainstream in 2017, is the latter.
Remember in 2016 when the whole country was freaking out over a rash of unexplained (and mostly unverified) clown sightings? Or the following year when everyone weaponized that dark animus by forcefully and collectively declaring their ardor for Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise in the rebooted “It” movie? It was a weird time. Let’s not do that again.
Loved: Old Town Road
It’s okay to admit you didn’t understand what the big fuss was around “Old Town Road” when you first heard it. It’s also okay to admit that, within days, you were kind of obsessed. A young gay black memelord from Atlanta taking over the country charts, bringing gymnasiums full of children to their feet and opening up important dialogues about genre gatekeeping? All with Billy Ray Cyrus making some legendary dad moves on the side? This was exactly the weird yet heartwarming thing we needed in 2019.
Hated: Pepe the Frog
Haha, memes are funny! Until they totally become racist. Pepe the Frog lived a very normal meme life right up until online trolls turned him into a green thing of hate in 2016. It got so bad his creator symbolically killed him off in 2017. Here’s a tip: If a group of people start using something as ironic hate speech, it will eventually be used for unironic hate speech. Don’t act surprised.
Vine died the way Vine lived: Quickly and confusingly. The six-second video app was released in 2013 and quickly became a hub for hilarious, bizarre, amazing and truly absurd content. Seriously, there are multi-millionaires walking around now who got rich in those six-second increments. However, the platform was shuttered in 2016, and young weirdoes have been trying to replicate its chaotic energy ever since. For now, Tik Tok will do.
Hated: Plantation weddings
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with the whole barn wood-burlap-mason jar wedding aesthetic that Pinterest foisted upon the masses this decade. But a worrying trend that grew up alongside it was the plantation wedding — long a tradition, but now with an added trendy social media sheen. However, it appears people are getting wise to the problems surrounding former slave plantations as event spaces: Several major wedding media companies cracked down on featuring plantation weddings in late 2019.
Loved: The Dress
Why did this one stupid dress capture the imagination and emotion of everyone with eyes to see and a voice to argue about it? It was a perfect combination: Controversial without being political, frustrating but not emotionally so, and endlessly interesting to think about. Plus, it got everyone talking about fundamental difference in perception — a conversation that certainly becomes more unpleasant the more topical it gets. And what is less topical than a dress?
Hated: RIP Harambe
To be clear, there’s no reason to hate the actual Harambe. After the silverback gorilla was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016, people used “RIP Harambe” to… comment on the irony of why we mourn animals but are quick to blame humans? To make fun of how upset people were over the whole thing? “RIP Harambe” turned into a meme that took a disturbingly long time to go away.
Once upon a time, people went on long Facebook rants about how leggings aren’t pants. In the 2010’s, the markets spoke: Leggings ARE pants, and sports bras are everyday undergarments and going about your business in full workout gear is completely acceptable as long as it looks like it was, you know, kind of on purpose. Comfort will always win, and if it’s keeping your legs and butt from being naked, it’s pants. Case closed.
In 2010, “Despicable Me” introduced us to a race of small, inept yellow creatures that would infect every toy shop and meme-addled Facebook feed for the next 10 years. You have to give them credit, rarely does a character appeal equally to four-year-old children and middle-aged aunts posting tepid jokes and fake Oscar Wilde quotes on their timelines. But we reached critical minion mass about five years ago, and they still won’t stop coming. Please, Universal, have mercy.
Loved: Baby Shark
Deepest apologies to all the parents out there. But the Baby Shark craze was not only a global trend (such power!), but it also managed to stay really wholesome. And if you for some reason know any corrupted or degenerate “Baby Shark” versions, keep them to yourselves. The world needs nice things.
After Miley Cyrus’s ah, memorable performance at the 2013 VMAs, it seems like everyone suddenly got obsessed with twerking. This, of course, was nothing new to cultures who had long embraced the dance style, and that only added an icky layer of appropriation onto the already-questionable mainstream trend.
Loved: Rainbow looms
Listen, any toy that doesn’t have to be charged, connect to social media or cost $300 is a toy that should be celebrated. Sure, the little bands got everywhere, but there was something kind of wholesome about knowing that solidly analog fads still have a place in our tech-crazed world. Plus, as an adult, being gifted one of the bright, woven creations was the highest badge of honor.
The creepy figure was originally the invention of an otherwise harmless creative internet hivemind, but the figure took on much more disturbing cultural relevance in 2014 when two girls brutally attacked their friend, saying later that the Slenderman creature had told them to kill her. The act kicked of months of mainstream debate about the dangers of internet storytelling and role playing games.
Loved: Bullet journaling
Let’s be real. At least 75% of people reading this right now have probably bought some sort of journal to fill out in the coming year. Best of luck to you! Creativity, organization and journal-keeping are worthy resolutions, and one of the most popular forms of it right now is bullet-journaling. It’s essentially free-form journaling and planning, but you get to buy lots of cool tape and markers and stuff. Is it a huge excuse for companies to market to people desperately trying to get their lives in order? Maybe. But…what if it works?