The best internet moments of 2024, from the rise of Chappell Roan to AI fails


Taylor Swift, Chappell Roan, and Zendaya pop out of a laptop screen.

The internet moves fast, and we keep up with it, so you don’t have to. In this list, we sift through the metaphorical cream that rises to the top of the cultural cesspool we call the World Wide Web, recapping the tech flubs, film faves, and charming catchphrases that have defined 2024 so far.


The three leads characters of Challengers — Art, Tashi, and Patrick — in a scene from the movie.

Credit: Amazon MGM Studios, Warner Bros. Pictures

The sizzling tensions of Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers inspired memes, breathless text posts, and horny fan edits of the three lead characters. Many of these edits used clips from the movie shot surreptitiously on mobile phones in dark theaters nationwide. As Mashable’s Elena Cavender noted, pirated clips are looked down on in some fan circles. Still, the online frenzy around Challengers made them fair game for fan editors who knew the people needed their tennis fantasy fix ASAP.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, The Tortured Poet’s Department, and Travis Kelce

Taylor Swift playing a rhinestoned guitar, mid-concert.

Credit: Shirlaine Forrest/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

For the past year, we’ve seen so much Taylor Swift on our feeds that she has become the moment. Her Eras Tour and relationship with footballer Travis Kelce — both the talk of 2023 — remained top of mind in 2024 as Swift played stadiums worldwide and managed to make it to her beau’s Super Bowl game on time. Then came the release of The Tortured Poet’s Department, a project fans expected would tear into her breakup with long-time partner Joe Alwyn. Instead, it seemed to primarily focus on her subsequent relationships with Matt Healy and Kelce, which sent listeners straight to their keyboards to discuss it all.

Pro-Palestine campus protests

A Columbia University graduate carries a "Ceasefire Now" banner across the stage at graduation.

Credit: Fatih Akta/Anadolu via Getty Images

Across the country, college students protesting the war in Gaza demanded that their universities divest from financial support of Israel. These protests, which included on-campus encampments and demonstrations, drew varied reactions from law enforcement. The Guardian reported that though “fewer than 20” of the 533 campus demonstrations nationwide between April 18 and May 3 resulted in any serious interpersonal violence or property damage, there were at least 70 instances of forceful police intervention. One of those, at Columbia University, led to calls for President Minouche Shafik to step down after she allowed the NYPD to enter the Columbia campus and remove protestors.

“Would you rather be alone in the woods with a man or a bear?”

This simple question, first shared on TikTok, opened a dialogue about gender-based sexual and physical violence: If left alone in the woods, would you feel safer being there with a man or a bear? Women answered, overwhelmingly: the bear, adding comments like, “The worst thing the bear can do is kill me.”

Zendaya’s Dune: Part Two red carpet style

Zendaya in a Mugler chrome bodysuit against sand dunes and an orange sky.

Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Zendaya and her longtime stylist, Law Roach, delivered incredible looks for the Dune: Part Two press tour, including a matching jumpsuit moment with co-star Timothée Chalamet. But the ‘fit that topped them all was a vintage Mugler chrome bodysuit with revealing cutouts.

Tween girls at Sephora

For about a month between January and February of this year, the internet had a lot to say about tween girls shopping at Sephora. TikTok videos purported to show display cases at the makeup store wrecked by overeager young women. However, the larger conversation revolved around whether young girls should be in the store at all — and if the products they love from brands like Drunk Elephant, Glow Recipe, and Charlotte Tilbury are suitable for young skin.

We chatted with actual teens and their parents about the hubbub.

TikTok “ban”

The TikTok logo on a smashed mobile phone screen, behind it the American flag is visible.

Credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After years of threats by the U.S. government, a TikTok “ban” is finally underway. “Ban” is a bit of a misnomer since the social media app could have up to 12 months to find a buyer before it is no longer distributed in the U.S. App Store. The move could have enormous implications for creators who create primarily for TikTok, and the bill may face a long uphill battle in the U.S. court system.

“Who TF Did I Marry?”

“Who TF Did I Marry?” is an 8-hour video series that made creator Reesa Teesa the talk of the internet throughout February and March. The 52-part saga, posted to TikTok, details Teesa’s marriage to a “pathological liar” and “narcissist” whom she calls Legion. The New York Times dubbed the series a harbinger of “TikTok’s Midlife Crisis Era,” and Mashable’s Tim Marcin noted that people listened to it the same way they would a podcast.

Chappell Roan’s star-making ascent

Chappell Roan, with wild red curly hair, wearing an "EAT ME" shirt and holding a mic on stage at Coachella.

Credit: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The slow and steady rise of singer Chappell Roan was supercharged this year by her performances at Coachella, where her whimsical outfits, undeniable stage presence, and progressive pop proved to be a powerful combination. Her festival stages boosted her streaming numbers enough to earn her her first entry on the Billboard 100 with “Good Luck, Babe!”

The rise (and fail) of AI

The meteoric rise of OpenAI in 2023 has upended content across the web in 2024. We’re seeing the application of artificial intelligence across almost every major platform to varying degrees of effectiveness. In April, a screenshot of Google’s AI tool recommending readers put “glue on pizza” raised eyebrows and set tongues wagging on X. It was one of the most powerful indications that AI may not be ready for prime time and may misinform users across the internet.

The Willy Wonka Experience

An event in Glasgow billed as an immersive, experiential walk through Willy Wonka’s factory for families turned out to be more weird than wonderful. Customers paying more than $40 a ticket were treated to one bouncy castle, no chocolate, a single oompa loompa, and the “The Unknown,” a creepy new villain who “lives in the walls.” Guests were reimbursed, but the event’s fallout played out online as sleuths delighted in its sloppy AI-generated marketing and actors hired by the production shared their takes on the disaster. 

Stanley cups and the dangers of overconsumption

A shelf of Stanley tumblers in pastel colors.

Credit: Matt Fowler KC via Shutterstock

The Stanley tumbler, a 40-ounce reusable stainless steel cup, is portable and durable and should reduce reliance on single-use plastics. Instead, it became a symbol of overconsumption early this year when people began sharing their enormous Stanley Cup collections, and videos surfaced of Stanley-seekers outrunning each other to nab a limited-edition Valentine’s Day colorway.

Mashable’s Christianna Silva broke down the FOMO, opining that “the frenzy for the tumblers points to a sensation becoming all too popular on TikTok: The app makes us feel insecure and uncertain of ourselves, and those very insecurities and uncertainties are being exploited for spending power.”

Jett and Pookie

Jett Puckett has a special nickname for his wife, Campbell. To him, she is “Pookie,” and she always looks “absolutely fire.” The couple’s TikTok content, featuring their date night outfits and weekend outings, delighted viewers who especially loved listening to Jett wax poetic about Pookie’s appearance. Mashable’s Tim Marcin summed up the duo’s simple appeal: “Pookie is dressed up, and Jett compliments Pookie.”

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