Beychella is just the latest big event to 'break the internet'

From the Ice Bucket Challenge to the color-changing dress to Kim Kardashian oiled up and nude, the internet just keeps breaking.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
3 min read
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Singer Beyonce's rousing reunion with Destiny's Child at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California over the weekend made headlines from California to Kalamazoo. And it wasn't long until the performance, now being dubbed #Beychella, was accused of breaking the internet.

Now you can break your diet, you can break the law, but you can't really break the internet, despite what the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph movie title claims.

Still, whenever there's a huge news event or viral photo or meme that seems to be everywhere, you'll hear that it "broke the internet," which strangely seems to bounce back just in time to break again over the next big event.

Internet-breaking topics actually go back to before the term "broke the internet." Some say news of singer Michael Jackson's sudden death in 2009 was an early internet-breaker, and as an old person who was sitting at her desk at a website in 1998, I can tell you the release of the Starr Report online pretty much stopped all work for an entire day. If we'd known to say it broke the internet back then, we probably would have.

Here's an inevitably incomplete list of just some of the events that have been accused of breaking the internet. 


Ellen's Oscar selfie
At the Academy Awards in March 2014, host Ellen DeGeneres crammed a host of celebs, from Brad Pitt to Meryl Streep to Bradley Cooper to Jennifer Lawrence, into a selfie-heard-round-the-world. Peter Nyong'o, brother of actress Lupita Nyong'o, who was attending the Oscars with his sister, also made the shot.

The Ice Bucket Challenge
In the summer of 2014, people were dumping buckets of ice water over their heads, challenging others to do the same, and filming the result for YouTube. While it might seem like just an extreme reaction to the heat of summer, it was all for a good cause -- those doing the dumping were collecting donations to fight ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known commonly in the US as Lou Gehrig's disease. Everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey took the plunge.

Kim Kardashian's Paper magazine cover photo
This is the only Kardashian moment you'll find on this list, and it's only here because it was one of the earliest uses of the hashtag #breaktheinternet.


A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on


The Dress
Maybe the most unlikely item to ever supposedly break the internet was a simple lacy dress, that was either white and gold or blue and black depending on how your eyes perceived the photo. Those who saw it one way simply couldn't comprehend that anyone saw anything different, scientific explanations be damned.

Pizza Rat
A gutsy New York rodent decided he was going to have this piece of dropped pizza or die trying, teaching many a lesson about determination. And then he abandons it, which maybe teaches an even more important lesson. Give up!

Pizza Rat

Let's hope Pizza Rat is well-fed, wherever he is.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Llamas on the loose
Save the drama for your ... llama? In 2015, a pair of llamas hightailed it around Sun City, Arizona, and the resulting memes were beautiful. (They were safely corralled in the end.)


Best-picture flub
And the Oscar goes to ... not you. In the most embarrassing mistake ever made by the Academy Awards, the final award of the 2017 ceremony was briefly given to the wrong movie. Actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and thus read out "La La Land" as the winner, only to later discover "Moonlight" actually won the prize. Nothing gold can stay.

In March 2017, Professor Robert Kelly's two kids decided to visit him while he was giving a live BBC interview, earning him the title BBC Dad and the resulting video 27 million views.

April the giraffe gives birth
Jordan Patch, the owner of Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, had no idea what he was in for when he put a camera in the pen of his pregnant giraffe April in February 2017. April didn't give birth till her namesake month, so for weeks people from all over the world tuned in to watch the mama gestate. 500,000 people watched the baby boy, later named Tajiri, emerge hooves-first and safely slide six feet to the ground.

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