The 6 most memorable viral stories of 2021

It’s been another stressful year for the world as we struggle out of the pandemic, but in among the bad times have been moments of light relief. 

The internet is still a gold mine for remarkable events, and with most of the global population online these days, it’s easy for popular stories to go viral very quickly. Here are six of 2021’s most talked-about moments.

Donald Trump banned from social media

There are many ways to get banned from online platforms these days. Moderators kick abusive posters of internet forums, while it’s even possible to for gamblers to ban themselves from sports betting sites or online casinos if their betting gets out of hand. However, 2021 saw a new way to get digitally banned – a president inciting a riot. 

As President-elect Joe Biden edged closer to being sworn in as the nation’s new Commander-in-Chief, a huge mob of people stormed the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Staff members and officials reporting being in fear of their lives as the mob turned violent. 

The scenes were scary enough for social media giant Twitter to take the drastic step of permanently banning Donald Trump – the man they believed incited many of his followers to attend the assault on US democracy. It was the first time they had ever taken such action and it might well be the last. 

The Suez Canal jam

As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to bring international trade to a standstill, how about the most expensive Suez Canal blockage in history? The vital waterway struggles to cope with cargo traffic at the best of times, so when the giant vessel Ever Given got stuck in March, the world started to fear the worst.

Just how could they get the 400-metre behemoth free from the side of the canal? The longer the blockage went on for, the more costly it became to the global economy. One estimate put it at $3 billion a day, which over the six-day logjam gives us a total cost of $18 billion.

Also, the longer the crisis went on, the more memes started to appear. Twitter was awash with them, including one of a comically under-sized digger trying to dislodge the Evergreen, which was about 100 times bigger.

Bernie Sanders’ mittens

A 79-year-old wearing a pair of gloves on a freezing cold Washington day isn’t normally something that would make the headlines. But when that 79-year-old is Bernie Sanders, he’s wearing some knitted mittens, AND he looks furious, then it’s a little different.

It didn’t take long for the internet to start having fun. First came the photoshops of Bernie in various locations, including a Muhammed Ali fight and a Forrest Gump scene. Then, to top it all off, a meme site created a feature that allowed people to put the image anywhere on Google Street View. Bernie Sanders was now the name on everyone’s lips, but perhaps not in the way he would have wanted.

UFO spottings announced

UFOs have fascinated the public for many decades now, with thousands of reported sightings each year. Most are simple mistakes, maybe an aeroplane or a bird that the viewer might have seen in poor light. 

Some sightings, though, can’t be explained. And when the confused witnesses are US military personnel, then you know it must be strange.

The footage released during the past year dates back from around 2004, when the US Navy was training off the coast of California. It shows a black saucer-shaped object hovering above the ocean before plunging suddenly into the water. The navy sent a submarine below the waves to search for this strange craft, but nothing was found. 

The Pentagon released the video last year as part of an ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ (UAP) package, with the statement that the objects in the footage remain unknown. The package revived public interest in UFOs and quickly went viral on social media around the world. 

The ‘fake arm’ anti-vaxxer

Vaccines have helped reverse the tide of the pandemic in the countries with the resources to buy and distribute them. Virtually every top scientist believes that the shots are the only way we can get the virus under control. 

Yet there are still people who are determined to avoid protecting themselves. One incident saw a 50-year-old Italian go more extreme measures than most: he fitted himself with a prosthetic arm to take the shot, rather than his own skin. His plan was to get the COVID pass so that he could attend more public events. 

He was caught out when the nurse giving the dose noticed that the arm seemed to look a little strange. When it became clear that it was fake, he was reported to the authorities. Maybe the anti-vaxxer thought it was an ‘armless joke…

Bear cubs swimming during heatwave

The internet can be a complex place, but sometimes all it takes is a few cute animal photos to win everyone over. 

Canada experienced some of its hottest temperatures in decades over the summer. Yet talk of climate change aside, it did produce one sweet moment when residents in British Columbia took some snaps of a family of bears cooling off in their swimming pool. The cubs played with each other in the water as the mother bear dipped her paws in to keep cool. 

Maybe animal photos are the key to diffusing Twitter arguments?

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