Every year has its moments — moments that will live on forever, as an icon of an era and a harbinger of the historical meaning of our times. Men on the moon, coding the human genome, the publication of Lolita...and a one solidly grumpy cat. In these trying times, it's impossible to be a citizen of the web without noticing the endless parade of viral jokes: Memes, as they shall henceforth be called. (Got a nice ring to it, no?)
These are the Internet memes that made our year, from secretaries of state sending you texts to art restoration disasters that left us laughing (and procrastinating) for hours on end. They might not be Hemingway or Shakespeare, but the millions of people who created these microcosms of popular web culture deserve a pat on the back for participating in an astounding phenomenon, the true effects of which will not be known for years. A few hundred tiny pixels on the Internet, one giant leap for mankind.
Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.