Instagram's Biggest 2020 Meme Trends: Dolly Parton, #2020Challenge & More

By James Dinh

December 22, 2020

We needed memes in 2020. Thankfully, the year brought plenty of popular trends that helped us cope with the idea that the world felt like it was on fire. In fact, more than one million posts mentioning "meme" were shared daily on the social media platform.

From the #DollyPartonChallenge at the top of January to the #WashYourLyrics challenge to the viral traction around the famed Verzuz battles and Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa, we found escapism from all over. As the year comes to an end, Instagram has unleashed the most popular meme trends of the year and it's a telling way to reflect on the last 12 months. "A good meme finds a perfect balance between specificity and ambiguity since the lifespan of a meme relies on people sharing it and adapting it as their own," Instagram's Strategic Partner Manager for Memes, Ricky Sans, told iHeartRadio. "The way we share memes is an expression of ourselves — of who we are, and how we feel at a certain moment. I find that the best memes offer people a way to map their point of view and experience onto the meme - it needs to be able to say something on behalf of the person doing the sharing."

Scroll on below to take a walk down memory lane to see the many ways in which we connected with one another in 2020 because, let's face it, if the year needed just one thing to help us cope, it was (digital) unity.

January - We all wanted to look like Dolly Parton at the top of the year, or at least, show the ways in which we can relate to the ever-versatile country icon with the #DollyPartonChallenge.

February - Pop culture was on fire in February when a backstage photographer caught Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's reunion at the SAG Awards and memes came pouring in.

March - We were all reminded of the importance and technique of washing our hands, courtesy of 17-year-old William Gibson, who started the #WashYourHands challenge. With a step-by-step guide, the user helped turn the practice into a karaoke session, pairing each step with lyrics.

April - As COVID-19 hit in full force, we turned to mediums like Netflix's chaotic documentary, Tiger King, and the Swizz Beatz and Timbaland-produced Verzuz battles, which saw some success but also some (technical) failures. We're looking at you, Teddy Riley!

May - In addition to entertainment, many folks, including Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa, turned to quarantine drinks, particularly her massive martini.

June - Almost halfway through the year, the world needed some reflection. Cue the My Plans/2020 trend, which saw celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Casey Scott, show us just how were impacted by the pandemic, too. Oh, and let's not forget Sony's anticipated PS5 console unveil, as well as the "This is 2020" creators who found humor in the year's halfway mark.

July - Later in the year, we started to relate to animals, random food and the alike when the "What ____ Are You" trend took over in July.

August - In August, Reese Witherspoon had us in our feels when she shared a month-by-month breakdown of her year thus far with a photo of a fresh-faced Elle Woods representing the month of January and follow-up shots of her distressed character, Charyl Strayed, from Wild. It's been a tough one.

September - Halloween took over early this year as Home Depot's 12-foot skeleton became the star of the spooky decorative season.

October - 2020 also saw the world make note of (and meme) VP Mike Pence's unlikely visitor during his debate against Senator Kamala Harris.

November - Election week had the country feeling tense and the state of Nevada remained one of the biggest talking points as they tallied up their votes at a slow and glacial pace.

December - Thankfully, Christmas has seemingly lifted some of our spirits and we can thank Garcelle Beauvais' #ElfontheShelfrebrand trend for pairing celebrities on top of one another.

Photo: Getty Images

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