Imagine if, five years ago, your second cousin sent you a random e-mail telling you the color of her bra. Or maybe you bumped into a childhood friend you hadn’t seen in 20 years–and he proceeded to inform you that he secretly loved the music of Gerardo (yes, that Gerardo). It would seem awfully weird, wouldn’t it?
That’s because it is weird–and let’s be honest, a little disturbing. But thanks to Facebook, doling out random details about your life, lingerie, and love of mid-’90s multicultural rap is perfectly acceptable. In fact, thanks to Facebook memes, it’s frequently encouraged.
Facebook memes are the passing fads that pop up on Facebook from time to time–things like “25 random things about me,” for example, or that barrier-busting bra-color-telling trend. Sometimes they’re amusing; other times they’re just plain annoying. For better or for worse, though, they’re often impossible to forget.
Here are eight of the most memorable Facebook memes we’ve seen.
1. The Bra Color Exposé
On a wonder-filled day in January, Facebook feeds worldwide started filling up with color.
Red. Black. Pink. Countless users were sending out status updates with names of hues and nothing else. And all (well, okay, most) of the users were women. What could it mean?
The ladies, as we now know, were sharing their bra colors with the virtual world. They weren’t doing it for sheer titillation, though: It was part of a slightly strange campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer research.
I’m not sure that’s what most people thought about after learning the color of their coworkers’ skivvies–but one way or another, lasting memories were definitely made.
2. Tag Early, Tag Often
Are you the Harry Potter of your social circle, or are you more the Ron Weasley type? If your friends got on board with Facebook’s tagging phenomenon, there’s a decent chance you’ve already found out.
You know what I’m talking about, right? People post large images with a variety of characters or personality types onto their Facebook walls. Then, they go in and tag each section of the image with one of their friends’ names. So Jim Shorts shows up when you mouse over Bart Simpson–that Jim is so mischievous, I tell you–and Paige Turner pops up when you hover on Marge (have you seen that girl’s hair?!).
It’s almost as enlightening as the Facebook quiz that tells you which Disney princess you most closely resemble. (FYI, I’m Aurora.)
3. The Lying Down Game
Taking the honor for the oddest fad of the bunch, the Facebook Lying Down Game encouraged people to lie down in peculiar places and then share the photographic evidence. Yep–that’s pretty much it.
According to what claims to be the official Facebook Lying Down Game page, the “legendary” Gary Clarkson came up with the idea in order to encourage “the sport of lying down in random public places.” Start practicing now, contenders: I hear this game’s headed to the Olympics in 2012.
Now, this may not be the most athletic of events, but it does have its own set of rigid rules. When you’re in your lying-down pose, you have to keep your palms flat against your sides and your toes pointed toward the ground. Also, the more bystanders who appear in your photo, the better.
Just don’t exert yourself too much. You have to save energy for the Sitting Up and Getting Quizzical Glares Game, which invariably will follow.
4. The ’25 Things’ Thing
Thanks to Facebook’s “25 things” meme, there are about 2500 things I wish I could unlearn about my friends.
Remember this one? Back in early 2009, everyone and their mother started posting lists of 25 random things about themselves. These things tended to include such enthralling factoids as the lack of hair on a colleague’s upper body (I won’t name names, but you know who you are) and the disturbingly sparse grooming habits of certain former classmates.
Just to clarify, something being “memorable” doesn’t necessarily mean you want to remember it.
Next page: The Doppelganger Game
5. I Know Where You Like It
Tiffany likes it on the kitchen table. Jen’s even dirtier: She likes it on the bathroom floor.
I’m not sure what you’re thinking, but I’m talking about where those ladies like to keep their purses. That was the subject of an intentionally suggestive fad that flew through Facebook this year.
Hey, don’t look at me like that–I didn’t come up with the idea. Believe it or not, it was another meme made in the name of breast cancer awareness (allegedly, at least; I’m not entirely convinced it made anyone think about mammograms).
6. The Doppelganger Gang
My old college roommate looks totally like Uncle Jesse from Full House. All right, I’m lying: He looks more like Kimmy Gibler. But that would be far less flattering to say.
These are the kind of thoughts that most of us forced ourselves to suppress during Facebook’s “Doppelganger Week” in February. No one is quite sure how it got started, but hordes of users started changing their profile pictures to photos of celebrities they thought they resembled (and by “thought they resembled,” I mean “actually looked nothing like”).
Amazingly, I didn’t see any takers for Carrot Top.
7. The Urban Dictionary Distraction
Do you know what your name means? Not what your parents thought it meant, mind you, but what some random dude on the Internet decided it represents.
During Facebook’s Urban Dictionary Week, it was tough to avoid this kind of knowledge. The week saw scores of users looking up their names on UrbanDictionary.com, a user-generated and often silly slang dictionary, and then posting the definitions on their Facebook pages.
The name “Mark,” interestingly, is defined in Urban Dictionary as “the most sexy, erotic, flirtatious, hot stuff, bootylicious four-letter word you’ll ever see.” Nice try, Mr. Zuckerberg…nice try.
8. Boobquake 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve arrived at our final memorable Facebook meme, and suffice it to say, we’ve saved the breast–err, sorry, best–for last.
Back in April, thousands of women posted photos of their cleavage to Facebook as part of a demonstration called Boobquake. A college student from Indiana started the sexy-sounding effort after an Iranian cleric claimed that provocatively dressed women cause earthquakes. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
“We should be able to test this claim scientifically,” the student wrote on her blog. “On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own…. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts.”
The results? The Boobquake caused no significant increase in seismic activity, according to its organizer. It did, however, cause a significant decrease in male productivity.
A complete coincidence, I’m sure.
JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the cofounder of geek-humor site eSarcasm. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.