Unexpected Viral Trends of 2022
Gaby Small – Layout Editor
The third year of the decade is already off to a turbulent start. With the discovery of new COVID-19 variants, the lack of testing availability and cold medicine, and the CDC’s constant back-and-forth about COVID-19 guidelines, the year is already proving to be stressful for many people around the country and the world. Thankfully, though, the citizens of the internet have not let the stress get to them and have instead dedicated their time to contributing to wholesome and hilarious internet memes and trends, some even related to COVID-19.
Jokes and memes have been made about COVID-19 and its variants before, and even the name “Corona” led to some people thinking the virus had something to do with the beer brand, Corona.
Recently, internet users found the COVID-19 variant, Omicron, quite similar looking to the stage name of the former B2K lead singer, Omarion.
In fact, the term “Omarion Variant” and the name Omarion itself ended up reaching its peak popularity on Google Trends from December 25th all the way to January 1st.
Coinciding with the popularity of the mistake, people started to post jokes on twitter, with Netflix writer Sylvia Obell tweeting, “Got my booster yesterday. Omarion already ruined my life once (when he broke up B2K), I’m not about to let him do it again.” Omarion has responded to the trend on TikTok on January 1st, stating that he is an artist, not a variant, and people will not have to quarantine if they see him on the street and will not have to test negative to enjoy and dance to his music.
Another COVID-19 related joke that started gaining traction in late December and is still going strong is the “The CDC says” trend. Frustrated with the CDC constantly making confusing and dangerous changes to the COVID-19 related health guidelines, Twitter users started to write out their own parody guideline announcements.
One Twitter user with the handle @catladyactivist posted “The CDC says you can now run with scissors,” while another Twitter user with the handle @BookSyrup posted “The CDC says that the 5 second rule has been changed to 15 seconds. Pick that cookie up off the floor.” Twitter user @zak_toscani, in stark criticism of the CDC’s decision to cut the recommended duration of isolation after initial COVID-19 infection from 2 weeks to a measly 5 days, tweeted “CDC recommends splitting up your quarantine over your two 15min breaks.” Though this trend does remind people of how terrible the COVID-19 situation has gotten, it also gives people an outlet to express their frustration through comedic means.
By far, the trend that has really caught people’s attention this month and is the most unexpected out of all of them is the Elmo vs Rocco meme.
A clip from the 4,077th episode of Sesame Street, which aired in 2004, was posted onto Twitter, depicting the puppet’s uncharacteristically rude behavior towards his friend Zoe’s imaginary friend, Rocco (who is a rock).
In the clip, Zoe withholds the last oatmeal raisin cookie from Elmo, claiming that Rocco told her he wants the cookie. Elmo then starts to go off at Zoe, telling her that Rocco will not be able to notice the difference if he gets another cookie since he is a rock, and he certainly is not alive.
Elmo’s contrast in personality in this scene ended up being hysterical to many, with the original poster of the clip, @wumbooty, captioning it with “there are tears in my eyes y’all my stomach hurting.” The initial tweet garnered around 450,000 likes and 25,000 retweets as of January 18th and has caused a wave of more clips being posted that highlight the one-sided feud between the two. The feud gained so much attention that Elmo himself ended up responding to the sudden exposure of his behavior by claiming that he and Zoe practiced sharing and that they are best buds forever, but also said “Elmo doesn’t want to talk about Rocco.”
Those 3 trends are not the only standouts of the month, as there are countless others that completely swept internet communities as well.
For one, another Elmo-sourced meme highlighting the way he pronounces “Balsamic Vinegar” went viral on TikTok and Twitter.
On the other hand, a decade old early-access game, Project Zomboid, trended heavily on gaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, and its player base rose from 3,000 concurrent players to a steady 30,000 after the release of its upgraded multiplayer build.
2022 is already off to a great start in the world of trends and with how things are seeming this month alone, the trend landscape for this year is looking to be a diverse and creative one.