Spend a bit of time on the internet, particularly channels like Buzzfeed, Reddit and 4Chan, and you're going to end up LOLing at a meme that has spread like wildfire. Here are 10 of the funniest you may have encountered this year.
1. Grumpy Cat
You won't have had to search too hard on the internet to find an image of Grumpy Cat, which became an Internet sensation thanks to her permanently scowling face. She was the star of this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and the Grumpy Cat brand has become a business in itself with a popular website, Facebook, as well as YouTube and Twitter channels.
2. Brent Rambo
This year a GIF of the awesomely named Brent Rambo circulated around the web. Part of a promotional video for Apple, it's him doing a thumbs up gesture which took on a life of its own as the universal sign of approval, even to the extent of having a named subreddit called r/BrentRamboApproves. The adult Brent Rambo was later found as a developer for Sony!
This is an odd animal-related meme that spread widely. A slang term for dog, the meme starts with the picture of a Shiba Inu, with text added in Comic Sans font that represents the dog's internal monologue in dog speak. Again there's a subreddit devoted to the meme, while a programmer went as far as creating a doge meme in Python shell script!
It used to be the only way people with no friends could take pictures of themselves, but now it's the done thing to take a pouting picture of yourself for social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The internet enfant terrible himself Justin Bieber invested money in a social app aimed at teens called 'Shots of Me'. Check out his cute little cherubic face here.
5. The Harlem Shake
There's massive power in the release of a successful YouTube video. Originally done as a comedy sketch, the video took on a life of its own and spawned a list of imitators. Here's a good top 10 list, a great Nintendo version, a brilliant geek dance, a funny Windows 8 video and our very own version...
6. Instagram is ruining pictures
Talking of selfies, Instagram is a big deal for anybody wanting to share images on social media. However, somebody caught on to the fact that in these days of 41-mega pixel cameras, one of the much-used features in Instagram is to blur pictures or produce grainy vintage hipster pics.
In 2013 Miley Cyrus' bottom suggestively thrust into mainstream consciousness thanks to her performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, with huge amounts of coverage on social media. Jimmy Kimmel then did a fake twerking FAIL video, and by the end of this year twerking ended up as a new term in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Tech enthusiasts of a certain age will know Streetfighter 2 really well. One of its most iconic images is of Ryu or Ken throwing fireballs at their enemy, with the warcry of 'Hadouken'. In 2013 it became a new meme when schoolgirls started posting themselves throwing themselves around in reaction to imaginary projectiles. Here are 26 of the best.
9. Raise your dongers
The world of gaming can seem very strange to the outsider, and 'Raise Your Dongers' is an odd little meme that came from a catchphrase coined by the player of League of Legends, a popular multiplayer online battle arena video game. Thanks to social media, in particular Reddit, it spread quite quickly to the bafflement of many.
Sometimes the most surprising topics can pick up traction on Twitter. One of these was the TV movie Sharknado, which had a plot consisting of sharks being swept up in a tornado that devastates Los Angeles. Twitter loves ridiculous concepts and the buzz generated by users such as Wil Wheaton and the late Cory Monteith has resulted in a 2014 sequel where the sharks will be hitting New York.