Photo: @shehryar_taseer
Photo: @shehryar_taseer

#10YearChallenge: The meme game that’s taking the Internet by storm

The idea evidently behind #10YearChallenge is to give the world a a glimpse of what you used to look like, perhaps because the friends you have today didn't even know you 10 years ago

Did your best friend just post a photo of her/him on social media, showing what they were in 2009 and what they are now? You’re probably wondering why they suddenly want people to know what they looked like 10 years ago.

Perhaps the first social media fad of 2019, the #10YearChallenge is taking the Internet by storm. And it’s not really a challenge. What you have to do is post two photos of yourself side-by-side -- showing what you looked like in 2009 and what you look like now.

Why?

That’s probably answered by two other names that the challenge is going by -- #HowHardDidAgeingHitYou and #GlowUp. The idea evidently is to give the world a a glimpse of what you used to look like, perhaps because the friends you have today didn’t even know you 10 years ago.

According to TweetBinder.com (a website that allows you to track tweets on a hashtag for free), the potential reach of #10YearChallenge is over 6 million, meaning it would have been viewed by that many people.

Similarly, Google Trends also shows that the interest in the 10 Year Challenge has been growing steeply worldwide since January 14. India seems to have picked up the trend from January 15, but it is on a steep rise here as well, according to Google Trends.

Who started it?

Unlike earlier trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge etc. the origin of the 10YearChallenge isn’t quite clear just yet. However, it’s certainly been fueled by a lot of celebrity inputs. American actress Reese Witherspoon posted a #10YearChallenge photos of herself on Twitter, showing how she has aged.

Others, like comedian Amy Schumer made pranks, posting a photo of Charlize Theron from the movie monster, alongside a picture of herself during her pregnancy. Schumer has been documenting her pregnancy through self deprecating photos for a while.

Indian celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Sonam Kapoor, Vishal Dadlani, Bipasha Basu etc. have also posted photos of themselves as part of the challenge.

An ulterior motive?

While the challenge seems to be just another fad on the Internet, a Wired reporter’s tweet explored another theory. In her tweet, she suggested that all the photos of people 10 years apart could be used to train facial recognition algorithms and it’s possible that

Facebook started the fad for just that purpose.

Of course, as Wired itself pointed out, the social media giant already has millions of profile pictures to look at for that.

Beyond your own photos

The challenge is so viral that it has now transcended just posting people’s own photos. You can find parodies of the 10YearChallenge on the Internet, with people posting photos of empty wallets with 2009 and 2019 tags on them. Others have used the hashtag to promote causes, like melting polar ice caps, by posting photos of them from 2009 and today.

It seems to be early days right now for the 10 year challenge, so there’s not much data to suggest its popularity. But take a look at your social feed and you should have a decent idea.

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