Reddit shared today that its most upvoted post of 2020 was a picture from 1989 posted by Rick Astley, the living meme himself. Reddit’s Year in Review blogs can be a good insight into broader internet culture, and the site’s listing of the most popular topics of conversations certainly included the largest issue of the year: “COVID-19” was mentioned over 50.2 million times. But they also include other forms of virality as well.
Rick Astley is known for the single “Never Gonna Give You Up” from 1987, which was already a number one worldwide hit even before the music video for the song was used to create the rickrolling meme. Rickrolls were all the rage during the early 2000s web, and based on the interactions this r/pics post has received, even people who only know Astley as the guy who surprises you by singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” seem to have feelings about the artist.
Following Astley’s, the second most upvoted post from 2020 was a short “story” posted in r/memes, progressively dunking on a flat-earther’s changing YouTube video titles. It’s not as immediately nostalgic as a photo from the 80’s, but I think you’ll agree that clowning on people has a similar timeless quality.
The confirmation of Astley’s continued viral status comes not long after Reddit finally revealed that 52 million users visit its site daily and that the number is growing. That’s less than other social platforms — there’s a measly 406,000 upvotes on the Astley photo and 292,000 on the flat-earth meme — but the fact these were the posts active users wanted to push up the Reddit charts reflects an internet population looking for distraction from a bad year. It seems some people are feeling a bit nostalgic for a simpler time, online and off.