The “me at the beginning of 2016 / me at the end of 2016” meme—aka the “my life is crap now” meme—has invaded Twitter for the past several weeks. People on social media have been using images from pop culture and news to compare their lives at the start of the year with their now broken, charred remains.
2016 was an apocalyptic mess, and it would seem appropriate, even normal, for many to think they were better off at the start. But just for fun, let’s briefly revisit this train wreck. The deaths of David Bowie and Carrie Fisher have bookended a long line of celebrity and musician deaths. It feels more inevitable than ever that humans will be annihilated from the planet due to global warming. And after months of racist and irrational tweets by the president-elect and future Nazi-in-chief, Americans are mentally spent. Thankfully, the Gregorian calendar dictates we must turn the page on 2016 and snuff out this dumpster fire in time to start a fresh new one.
Before we bid farewell to this overplayed meme forever, though, let’s look back on the best of the best, the ones that got it right. We’ve filtered out the overused ones—most of us have seen the meme of a young, clean-shaven Leo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet compared with The Revenant Leo sporting a scarred face and a beard he probably kept his breakfast in. Those things are just makeup and the cruel effects of time and aging. We’re also going to stay away from those that call attention to celebrity meltdowns. Let’s try to keep it clean.
Here are the 10 best “me at the beginning of 2016 / me at the end of 2016” memes.
1. The bottom of the barrel.
Life in 2016 can be described in so many ways—a dumpster fire, a train wreck, the coming apocalypse. But if we’re really being honest, life hasn’t been good since before the internet, and anyone who remembers those halcyon days might doubt they even existed at all. Soon, all we’ll be left with is “life used to be bad, and now it’s worse.” So we might as well embrace these pictures of toilets lined up like a cemetery, which are then destroyed them and put into a big pile. Hold on, he’s referring specifically to Twitter here….
2. “Funny how? What’s funny about it?”
New Year’s resolutions can represent shiny and golden days ahead for many. Unfortunately, a fair amount of these resolutions never materialize. We’re only human. Joe Pesci is here to illustrate how our dreams become dashed by December. Just like that, a little sparkle in your smile can turn into an inferno on your head.
3. 2016 has lasted about 84 years.
This one falls under the “I’ve aged about 50 years in one year” variety of the meme. And really, what’s a better metaphor for surviving 2016 than seeing the hopeful, bright face of Rose Dawson on board the doomed Titanic, compared with the elderly and remorseful Rose, who, c’mon, could have moved over for Jack. My heart actually might not go on.
4. We’re all Jerry Lewis.
Jerry Lewis’ recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter defines everything that’s wrong with 2016. Sure, Lewis is notoriously difficult to interview, but this year it seems all that’s left of the comedian is a hard, crusty shell who complains about too much equipment in his house. Pitting Lewis’ tired face against an early image of him popping through a paper map with the whitest of smiles is classic.
5. It really, really hasn’t been easy being Kermit.
Kermit has been put through the ringer this year in terms of the internet’s MemeWorld. He’s usually found sipping tea like idgaf or spotted talking to an Obi-wan-type person seeking divine guidance. Most recently he’s been found miniaturized and unable to get out of bed. But the best example of Kermit in 2016 is the frog running joyfully through a meadow of flowers, who is later found holding his knees for sweet comfort.
6. Do you prefer 2016 mashed or fried?
What is it about finding faces in food that people relate to so well? Does it have something to do with the whole “Jesus in my toast” craze? Either way, this picture of a pleasant russet potato turned into a cranky old pile of mashed potatoes with Brussels-sprout eyes and an onion frown is how we all feel right now.
7. Why does it have to be Nazis?
Indiana Jones movies always start out so quaint. Dr. Jones is seen in a tweed suit, teaching archaeology to a classroom of lovesick girls. Before you know it, Indy’s clothes are shredded, he hasn’t showered in days, and he’s beating up a Nazi. That’s 2016 for you. While we’re at it, can we bring him to life now? We could really use him.
8. A Nice Trip to the Forest
Memes that reference TV shows are built upon recognition. They assume you watch the show and get the joke. That doesn’t always work, though. As I don’t watch Game of Thrones (gasp!), any memes that reference it make no sense to me. However, this reference to the X-Files feels universal. In this episode, Fox Mulder invites Dana Scully to the forest, and allegedly says, “it’ll be a nice trip.” This “nice trip” left the two scratched up, burned, and possibly bald. Mulder regrets the error.
9. Kanye doesn’t care about black people
File this one under “Nothing means anything anymore.” Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? More than 1,200 people died. Failing floodgates and poor response times from FEMA contributed greatly to the disaster. West appeared at a Katrina benefit with Mike Myers on TV that year and (said Bush didn’t care about black people. West was right of course. Fast-forward to 2016. West recently met with president-elect Trump, ( who says he loves “the blacks” and once claimed he’d get 95 percent of the black vote. He didn’t. It’s safe to say most people aren’t fooled by the orange-haired white supremacist, but it seems we put too much faith in West’s ability to stand up for minorities. West in 2020?
10. Wocka Wocka Wocka—It’s Fozzie Bear vs a grizzly, 2016
Everyone loves Fozzie Bear. The Muppet Show’s caniform standup comic caught a lot of flack from Statler and Waldorf, but mostly took things in stride. Fozzie may have been full of cheesy jokes in January, but he’s now devolved into a big, smelly ball of fur that may just rip your head off.