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#WorldSocialMediaDay: 12 Viral Photos That Took The Internet By Storm In The Recent Decade

Take a trip down memory lane

By Gargi Agrawal  June 30th, 2021

We’re all visual beings. It’s no secret that we love the imagery that is aesthetically pleasing and yeah, just simply beautiful. But in a world where social media has taken over our lives for better (and for worse), nonsensical trends and viral content catches our attention in a hot minute. And if the context has garnered a million eyes the world over, there’s no way we’re letting it go unnoticed. Playing on this human nature, the internet has been a constant source to present us with gems that have pulled views from all parts of the world.

This World Social Media Day, we went back in time to scour 12 viral photos that set the internet on fire in the last decade. Swipe through for a look:

Social Media

Follow Me To (2013)

In 2013, the popular @followmeto Instagram account took over the world—literally. The stunning photo series featured Murad Osmann and Natalia Zakharova, who travelled to places that most people only dream about. In lieu of run-of-the-mill photographs, Murad clicked his girlfriend taking his hand and leading him through some of the world’s most iconic and well-recognised sites. Yeah, admit it. You’ve tried one for your grid too.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ Met Gala Gown (2017)

Dressed in a stunning Ralph Lauren number with an unbelievably long train, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ entrance at the Met Gala in 2017 involved 2 assistants, 1 bus and yes, a Jonas Brother. Bollywood’s mega-watt star rose to fame for all the wrong reasons, with her train turning into hilarious memes for viewers worldwide.

Social Media

The Afghan Girl (2016)

A 1984 photographic portrait of Sharbat Gula taken by photojournalist Steve McCurry caught attention worldwide. The portrait is that of an adolescent girl with green eyes and a red headscarf, looking intensely at the camera. In early 2002, she was identified as Sharbat Gula, a Pashtun child living in a refugee camp in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when she was photographed. The photograph resurfaced in October 2016, when Sharbat Gula was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency for living in Pakistan with forged documents. 

Social Media

The Oscars Selfie (2014)

During the Oscars in 2014, host Ellen DeGeneres randomly waded into a crowd and squeezed in some of the world’s biggest stars for what is now an iconic selfie. Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'O, Peter Nyong'O and Angelina Jole in one frame? What could possibly be better?

Social Media

Situation Room (2011)

The Situation Room is a tense photograph taken by the White House photographer Pete Souza on May 1, 2011. The iconic photo features Barack Obama, Joe Biden and America’s National Security Team—receiving live updates from Operation Neptune Spear, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Purple Lipstick (2017)

Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan defied beauty norms at Cannes Film Festival 2016 when she sported purple lipstick to finish off her couture look. Her bold decision stunned everyone as controversies sparked and debates ensued with regard to her choice of colour.

Social Media

The Grumpy Cat (2012)

Allow us to break this to you. The @realgrumpycat now has a massive following of 2.4 million! Tardar Sauce, notoriously known as the grumpy cat, was an American internet celebrity cat who went viral for her noticeable dissatisfied, grumpy face. When the owner posted a photo of Tardar in 2012, netizens found themselves drowning in a pool of cynical memes (with absolutely no regret).

Social Media

McKayla Maroney (2012)

McKayla Rose Maroney is an American retired artistic gymnast, singer and actress. She went viral during the 2012 Olympics in London wherein she was clearly ‘not impressed’. The gymnast rose to fame when she was photographed accepting her silver medal but really, her expression says it all (which later became meme material).

Bernie Sanders (2021)

One of the most endearing images from Joe Biden’s 2021 Presidential Inauguration didn’t include him at all. Meet US Senator Bernie Sanders who set the internet ablaze with his oversized mittens, practical brown coat and maintaining social distance by sitting on a faraway chair. Now we’ve seen him making waves on the internet in a myriad of unconventional settings and honestly, we wish it never ends.

The Distracted Boyfriend (2017)

Depicting different forms of disloyalty, the distracted boyfriend image went viral in 2017 with multiple humorous spin-offs breaking the internet. The internet meme was based on a stock photograph which was shot by the Spanish photographer Antonio Guillem in 2015.

Beyonce’s Pregnancy Announcement (2017)

Social media exploded. Queen B was trending on Twitter. The photograph was being covered and reposted by every media outlet. And yeah, fans were running wild. Beyonce broke the internet when she announced her pregnancy with Jay Z in the best possible way. The pop sensation donned a green veil, a brown and blue lingerie set, and looked like a regal goddess surrounded by flowers.

Four More Years (2012)

Moments after winning the re-election in 2012, Obama’s ‘Four More Years’ photo made history by being the most retweeted image the same year. The intimate photo featured the former President with the First Lady, Michelle Obama as the two embraced each other with a hug.

Photographs: Instagram