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The top internet stories that shaped the year

A look at the most talked-about internet stories this year

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wears mittens.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wears mittens as he attends President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Associated Press

The internet was where the world interacted and shared stories in 2021.

In truth, 2021 saw a massive shift for people online. The coronavirus pandemic’s beginning in 2020 made people move online, but 2021 showed the ramifications of all of that, giving us more stories to follow on the internet.

With so many people online, the popular moments of the year shifted there, too. People were still restricted from going into certain indoor spaces and specific events were still held off. But there are almost no rules on the internet, giving people free licenses to enjoy fun stories.

The vaccines arrive

One of the biggest stories of 2021 was the mass release of the COVID-19 vaccines. People across the country started to receive their vaccine jabs, protecting themselves from the coronavirus. You could catch plenty of selfies on the internet of people getting their shots. And though we’re still not out of the pandemic, the virus outbreak in 2020 meant something different than it does now in 2021.

Bones or no bones?

A TikTok trend developed toward the end of the year, and it asked a a simple question — is today a bones or no-bones day? This began when TikTok user Jonathan Graziano, who has a pug named Noodle, propped up his puppy to see if he will stand or not stand. If the dog flops down like a noodle, then it’s a no-bones day. The difference? A bones day means you have to work hard. A no bones day means you don’t have to care.

Bernie Sanders and the inauguration mittens

The Bernie Sanders meme still exists today. During President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was photographed sitting in a winter coat with mittens. The photo became an instant internet meme that will still pop up now and again online.

The police officer who looked like The Rock

Who can forget Alabama Patrol Lt. Eric Fields of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, who looked just like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Social media blew up when photos of Feilds showed up online, showing the two studs were eerily similar to each other.

Facebook becomes Meta

The company Facebook reorganized under the new name Meta, uniting all of the Facebook brands under one parent company. But this was only the beginning, as Meta revealed its plan was to build a new community in the metaverse, which is a virtual or alternate reality world inside the internet. Ugh. My head hurts. Anyway, this was also one of the biggest internet stories of the year because it dealt with the changing nature of the internet.

Dogecoin and the rise of meme coins

It would be hard to mention the top stories of the internet in 2021 without mentioning the rise of cryptocurrency — specifically the meme-based crypto tokens like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu coin. Both of these cryptocurrencies rose as memes before they became real coins with real values. In fact, the hype over these coins reached a fever pitch when Elon Musk made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and mentioned Dogecoin.

Subway tuna sandwich isn’t ... tuna?

One of the weirder and unexpected 2021 stories surrounded Subway tuna sandwiches. Specifically, a lab test said it could not identify the species of a Subway tuna sandwich, as I wrote for the Deseret News. Literally, the study found there’s no tuna in the Subway’s tuna sandwich meat. This obviously broke a lot of people’s brains as they had to come to terms with the fact that the Subway tuna sandwich comes from an unknown origin.

They made a musical based on ‘Ratatouille’

Well, this is an example of the internet impacting real life. A TikTok trend based on Disney’s “Ratatouille” became a Broadway benefit concert with an all-star cast, including Titus Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) as Remy and Ashley Park (“Emily in Paris”) as Colette and Adam Lambert as Emile.