A cat with sunglasses on TikTok. A mom and dad fan-girling over their teenage daughter's singing skills. A hashtag showcasing just how hard young Nigerians are willing to work for their future.
In a year of gloom and doom, disasters and disease, these are the sweet online moments from around the world that brightened up 2019.
More and more, social media bridges the gaps between different countries, cultures and languages: A study from the Pew Research Center found that social media and Internet use in developing countries rose from 42% of adults in those countries in 2013 to 64% in 2017.
And this year, Chinese video platform TikTok became a huge player in that growth, giving users opportunities to make short clips of themselves dancing, lip syncing or even recreating popular movie scenes. In November, the app surpassed 1.5 billion downloads on the App Store and Google Play, ranking above both Facebook and Instagram.
These viral posts may not necessarily be the ones with the highest views or like counts, but they're the trending moments that caught the attention of people around the world in the midst of the never-ending news and meme cycles.
Chinese video platform TikTok was downloaded more than one billion times in 2018 — and the memes kept growing and growing as the app celebrated its first anniversary in August of this year. In Mexico, this video played off the popular "and I can put it in a bun" meme, often showing animals with their ears coiffed up in scrunchies or other hair accessories, emulating a top-bun hairstyle. Although some creatures object, this cat seemed cool with it.
Space is hard. We commend @ISRO’s attempt to land their #Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole. You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together. https://t.co/pKzzo9FDLL— NASA (@NASA) September 7, 2019
After India's Chandrayaan-2 space probe failed to land on the Moon's South Pole in September, the India Space Research Organisation posted a tweet acknowledging how complex their initial goal turned out to be. In response, NASA applauded the attempt — and Twitter users loved the gesture of solidarity.
When a group of students in Malaysia started recording a video project for chemistry class, they had an unexpected guest star: a pig-tailed macaque monkey. The clip shows the girls running away from the camera as the monkey scatters their project materials. But not to worry — they did eventually finish their video about crystallized snowflakes and shared the end product in the Twitter thread.
My name is Hammad Rabiu, The CEO of SacréBleu, i sell ready-to-wear Kaftans & Babban rigas at a very affordable price, I sell Jallabas, Caps, Links, perfumes & watches, i also make birthday & anniversary packages.— Ham $. (@its_hammadrabiu) March 14, 2019
We make deliveries all across Nigeria & Outside. #ThisIsMyHustle pic.twitter.com/mmvXXHwzER
In Nigeria, the entrepreneurial spirit of young people picked up steam in the form of #ThisIsMyHustle — a hashtag encouraging Twitter users to share their small businesses and side gigs. Computer engineers, bakers and artists all joined in on the trend, which earned a heartfelt tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari's personal assistant, Bashir Ahmad.
He wrote: "Spent over an hour reading every tweet under #ThisIsMyHustle hashtag, every single tweet made me happy genuinely, that's so pure hustle, guys I am super proud of you all, with such your hustle you're taking Nigeria to the #NextLevel. Allah ya bunkasa kasuwancin ku."
When I said my parents were supportive, I wasn’t kidding 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/TZ0krYWTTG— Brìanna Rubia (@rubiabrianna) January 13, 2019
Back in January, when 18-year-old Samantha Rubia started practicing her nighttime vocal exercises, her parents barged in to show their support — and her sister Brianna thought the scene was so cute, she filmed it and shared it on Twitter.
"This is almost a routine for my family; my sister doing a Disney song or two and my dad or mom walking in to nod and encourage her," she says. "They'd do the exact same thing whenever I studied or played the guitar, and so I realized how cutely supportive my parents were in everything we did and I decided to record it."
Some Uber drivers do the most to make their rides stand out, from supplying phone chargers to offering free snacks. But Menzi Mngoma from South Africa has his own style.
In July, a video of the 27-year-old perfectly serenading a passenger with an opera aria exploded on Facebook. The clip — less than a minute — landed Mngoma with several interviews, the release of his first single and high praise from The Guardian's opera critic.
On TikTok, a hungry teenager gives a hilarious — but sweet — bilingual tutorial on how to make traditional Venezuelan arepas, a dish made from maize dough and usually stuffed with meat and cheese. Before helping himself to a plate, he shares with the person who likely passed down the lesson — his hungry mom.