Missing Malaysian Airline Flight
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur and was never seen again. Despite multiple major searches for the plane in the days, months, and years after its disappearance, no one has been able to find anything more than a few stray pieces of debris. At this point, we’re not even entirely sure what could have caused the plane to crash (assuming that it did), making this disappearance one of the biggest mysteries not only of this decade but of all time.
The Release of the iPad
It feels like it’s been around forever, but in reality, the first Apple iPad was only released in April 2010. By the beginning of May, more than a million iPads had already been sold—a benchmark it took the iPhone twice as long to accomplish a few years earlier. These days, the iPad is currently the best-selling tablet on the market.
Oh, if only we could forget planking forever. This bizarre fad that involved lying facedown like a plank in unusual locations has actually been a thing for decades, but it only really took off in the public’s mind in 2010 and 2011. Despite the potential for danger, planking has only been tied to one death in Australia in 2011.
The End of the Harry Potter Franchise
In July 2011, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise came to an end. The last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, marked the end of an era. After a decade of film adaptations, Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson retired from the world of wizardry. Although the original series came to a close, HP fans have rejoiced in Rowling’s more recent endeavors. The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel to the Harry Potter series, was released in 2016. And in that same year, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made its Broadway debut! It’s no surprise that both have been extremely successful.
“The Dress” Debate
If you were on social media in 2015, it’s likely you remember arguing with friends and family over the color of “the dress.” The photograph went viral on Tumblr and caused quite the disagreement. Was the dress white and gold? Or was it blue and black? Scientists decided to weigh in on the debate and concluded that the photo was merely an optical illusion. Due to color perception, many saw the dress as white and gold—when in reality it was truly blue and black. Honestly, we’re still not convinced...
Leonardo DiCaprio Finally Winning an Oscar
After 27 years in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio was long overdue for an Oscar. In 2016, the Academy finally awarded him the best actor Oscar for his performance in The Revenant. He was previously nominated for his acting roles in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street, but was repeatedly snubbed. Thankfully, we can now breathe a sigh of relief—DiCaprio has received his precious Academy Award. All is right in the world.
“Gangnam Style” has more than 3 billion views on YouTube, but you probably haven’t listened to it for years. When this song by South Korean musician Psy was released in July of 2012, it was everywhere. And we mean everywhere—including sporting events, TV, and more! But like most major fads, its hype eventually died down, and it was replaced by the next big thing. By pop culture standards, it’s basically ancient history at this point.
The Royal Wedding of William and Kate
If you didn’t stay up until three in the morning to watch Will and Kate’s wedding on April 29, 2011, you at least knew someone who did. America was obsessed with their love affair from day one; it was the biggest British event that America cared about since Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981. It was such a big deal, in fact, that it was deemed a national holiday in the U.K. Literally everyone was given the day off to celebrate their marriage. Oh, and fun fact: The whole extravaganza cost around $34 million.
2010 Haiti Earthquake
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, just 16 miles outside its capital of Port-au-Prince. Death toll estimates range between 200,000 and 250,000, making it the deadliest disaster of the 2010s. Even almost 10 years later, it’s reported that millions of Haitians are still in need of humanitarian aid due to the 2010 earthquake.
Remember when clowns began showing up out of nowhere in 2017? Pretty much everyone forgot in the following year, but it was hard to forget that scary-looking grinning face looking up at us from the porch camera. Thankfully, this terrifying trend fell out of favor, although some people tried to get it started back up in 2018.
Farmville and Facebook Games
It’s hard to forget the days when Facebook “friends” (no one has 600 friends) would send Farmville or Facebook game requests. It clogged up the notifications bar. Most of us had to suffer with it around 2015. Then, Facebook gave us the ability to turn off notifications for certain games, and suddenly, our notifications bar was clear.
The First Avengers Movie Premiered
Can you believe the first Avengers movie actually came out this decade? It seems like so long ago that the original Avengers—Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—first teamed up to save the world, but the first of the four films premiered May 4, 2012. It went on to gross more than $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2012 and the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
Ice Bucket Challenge
Did you ever do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Or were you challenged to do it? You can probably remember your social media feeds being filled with videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. No one’s really sure how it went viral, but suddenly everyone was doing it. According to the ALS Association, over the course of summer 2014, the ice bucket challenge raised a total of $115 million for ALS awareness and research.
Zombie Warning in FL
Florida is known for having crazy things happen—but zombies? Residents of Lake Worth, FL received a text alert that warned residents of an incoming zombie attack. A total of 7,880 customers were sent this message starting at 1:41 AM. The warning stated the alert was for Lake Worth and Terminus—a reference to The Walking Dead. Apparently, officials never figured out who it was.
Game of Thrones Premiered
If it feels like your Sunday nights have been devoted to Game of Thrones for the past decade, it’s because that’s pretty much been the case. The world was introduced to the Starks, the Targaryans, and the Lannisters when GOT premiered on April 17, 2011. It quickly gained a cult following and ended up scoring more Emmy nominations than any other series in TV history, which is impressive on its own—but it also opened the door for other sci-fi and fantasy shows, like The Handmaid’s Tale, to gain serious recognition by the Academy.
Marriage equality seems to be almost taken for granted today, but, in reality, it’s been barely five years since it became a legal option for the entire U.S. The landmark civil rights case Obergefell v. Hodges was argued in April, but it was the decision delivered on June 26, 2015 (coincidentally Pride Month) that solidified the right to marry for same-sex couples.
“The End of the World” aka The End of the Mayan Calendar
Throwback to when everyone was convinced the world would end on December 21, 2012—otherwise known as the 2012 Phenomenon. This theory stemmed from the end date of the Mayan calendar. Turns out they weren’t psychic; they just couldn’t plan for more than 5,126 years. And still, here we are...
Just as quickly as they dominated store shelves, fidget spinners have disappeared. It seemed like everyone was playing with fidget spinners...for about three months. According to Google Trends, they peaked in popularity around May 2017. By the holiday season of the same year, they were a has-been fad. We barely knew thee, fidget spinners!
Harambe the Gorilla
You probably remember those memes with Harambe the gorilla plastered all over Facebook, and he posthumously swept the internet in May 2016. Harambe was killed after a boy fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe became the spearhead of an ironic internet meme as his death sparked international grief and controversy.
Hamilton Came to Broadway
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve heard of the hit 2015 musical Hamilton. Following the titular founding father, Alexander Hamilton, this musical definitely didn’t throw away its shot as it became one of the largest musical sensations since Wicked—and it’s still thriving even four years later.
Do you remember the original Netflix plans? You could rent a certain number of DVDs and have access to online streaming content. Granted, the online library wasn’t anything like it is today. In 2011, Netflix announced it was separating the plans into streaming-only and DVD-only (to be called Qwikster). With separate pricing plans, this amounted to a 60% increase in subscription costs. The resulting stock drop and customer backlash seem like just a blip on the radar compared to Netflix’s success today.
Swipe Right for a Date
Online dating has been around for a while, but apps like Tinder and Hinge have taken hookup culture to a new level. Tinder was released in 2012, but it didn’t really reach mass appeal until 2014. Now dating is similar to a game: swipe right if you like, swipe left if you don’t. If you both like each other, then you match and start up a convo! Is it simple? Yes. Healthy? Probably not.
“Gangnam Style” wasn’t the only dance craze that swept the world. In 2013, “The Harlem Shake” became a meme sensation across the globe and everyone was doing it. Hundreds of thousands of 30-second Harlem Shake videos flooded the internet and some still resurface even at the end of the decade.
Birth of Instagram
On October 6, 2010, Instagram launched—and 25,000 users logged on. Nearly a decade later and the social media platform has more than one billion active users. If you were an original Instagrammer, it’s likely you remember the app’s initial logo and format. While the site has undergone lots of changes in the last 10 years, it remains more popular than ever. Celebrities, influencers, and bloggers are even able to use the app to make money! Talk about being Instagram-savvy.
What Does the Fox Say
Nowadays, the fox doesn’t say anything, but not so in 2013. “What Does the Fox Say” was a music video released by Ylvis. The video quickly went viral and people were quoting foxes everywhere, “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!” and “Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!” After a long few months, the trend phased out. Today, the video has almost 900 million views.
Tupac Performing at Coachella 15 Years After His Death
Tupac had a significant, lasting impact on our culture—in both life and death. The world still mourns his 1996 assassination, which is why Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre decided to bring him back from the dead in holographic form for a Coachella performance in 2012. Although Dre reportedly got permission from the deceased rapper’s mother, the hologram kind of creeped everyone out and raised the question: Are live shows with holograms of dead musicians the future? Eight years later, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case—and thank goodness.
The year 2012 is commonly associated with the 30-minute documentary Kony 2012. The purpose of the video was to bring light to Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord who recruited thousands of child soldiers. The video became a viral sensation, and America rallied together to help end the corruption. The majority of people owned a Kony 2012 tee, bracelet, or button, and many donated to the Invisible Children foundation. But the charity later received harsh criticism for its lack of financial transparency and filmmaking faux pas.
Grumpy Cat Became a Star
Originally named Tardar Sauce, this famous kitty with a very grumpy look became one of the most popular memes in the world. Sweet little Tardar Sauce was born with an underbite and feline dwarfism, which led to her notoriously grouchy appearance. She died in May of 2019, but her memory still lives on in memes and her Christmas movie, Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever.
False Missile Warning
Residents of Hawaii had a rough day early one morning in January 2018. A ballistic missile alert was sent over television, radio, and text. The message was terrifying enough, stating that there was a ballistic missile inbound, but it ended with “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Uh, what? Thirty-eight minutes after the text was sent, State officials blamed a miscommunication during a drill. That was a tense 38 minutes.
United Express Flight 3411
In 2017, there was an incident at Chicago O’Hare International Airport when a passenger was forcibly removed from United Express Flight 3411. The flight itself was overbooked, and they needed four seats for crew members. David Dao Duy Anh refused to give up his seat, and so security was called. The incident resulted in Dao being knocked unconscious and dragged out while bleeding.