Viral content has come a long way since kitten videos and epic fails. That isn't to say those topics aren't still staples of Internet success, but the stories that were most popular in 2013 showed that we're willing to think a little bit deeper than squee and slapstick humor. In fact, looking back at some of HuffPost's most shared stories of the past 12 months tells us a lot about ourselves and the things we love enough to tell our friends. The 13 story lines below show exactly what it took to break the Internet in 2013:
1. We loved to be reminded that our lives on social media are pretty annoying.
We might as well start where most viral stories do -- on Facebook. The blog Wait But Why documented the most annoying Facebook behavior, which readers promptly passed around on the social network, likely pretending that they weren't guilty themselves. Blogger Ashley Hesseltine also got a little more specific, calling out annoying couples around the world who make their big engagement announcements on Facebook.
2. So we turned to those same networks to share our amazement at real-life talent...
Our digital lives are filled with banalities, and we only rarely witness impressive feats of excellence in our real lives, which makes the Internet a great place to remind us that many humans are pretty damn good at what they do best. A capella performances were a clear standout, like this one by Florida State's AcaBelles, which capitalized on the smash-hit success of Lorde's "Royals."
Pentatonix also harmonized and beat-boxed their way to viral success with their rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," while The Piano Guys did a nontraditional yet hugely popular version of "Angels We Have Heard On High."
3. And to admire the strongest displays of human resilience.
Deborah Cohan simultaneously uplifted us and made us all look like a bunch of wimps this year when she and her doctors launched into a flash mob dance in the operating room just moments before she underwent a double mastectomy.
While many would be deathly afraid of the procedure she was about to undergo, Cohan -- and her medical team -- danced with genuine delight as Beyonce's "Get Me Bodied" played in the room. Her display of bravery gained worldwide attention and praise. You can track Cohan's recovery here.
4. We understood that there are some people who deserve to be pointed and laughed at...
When a filmmaker launched a campaign to give a figurative groin-kick to Abercrombie & Fitch, the Internet said "yes, please," giving nearly 1.3 million Facebook "likes" to our article on the push. In his video, Greg Karber explained his plan to give A&F clothes to the homeless community as a response to the company CEO's super douchey comments about their products only being meant for cool, skinny, good-looking people.
5. And others who simply deserve to be recognized.
We got an intimate look at people whose bodies might not reflect traditional views of beauty this year, when Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled, launched this project to replace typical mannequins with molds of people with disabilities.
Introverts also got their time in the spotlight, with the success of "23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert," a post that busted some misconceptions about introversion and likely led many to reconsider their personality type. And Dégagé Ministries provided this powerful examination of homelessness, when they gave a homeless veteran a makeover and showed his stark transformation.
6. We had our faith in humanity restored, repeatedly.
Random acts of kindness have a tendency to go viral, even when they don't promise to "restore your faith in humanity." A few such stories resonated particularly strongly this year. This "single guy" at a restaurant made us tear up when his server explained how he'd picked up the tab of a pair of strangers seated next to him after overhearing them emotionally discuss a medical diagnosis. People were also moved by this photo of a young man sleeping undisturbed on the shoulder of an older stranger on the New York subway, and by this middle school football team, which created a special play to allow their teammate with disabilities to score his first touchdown.
7. We received advice on living better lives.
Self-help is always popular, and 2013 was no different. People got some tips on basic day-to-day living with "The Habits Of Supremely Happy People," a series of suggestions that pretty much anyone can apply to their lives. Blogger Kate Bartolotta also chipped in her own two cents on being happy in the satirically titled, "How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps."
We switched from "do" to "don't do" in "23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing," a story about some basic behaviors that many women find themselves doing on a daily basis, and should feel empowered to stop.
And for those who simply want an articulate, philosophical reason to live life to the fullest, just check out this video from filmmaker Jason Silva.
8. And hilarious commentary on the things we put ourselves through willingly.
Apparently a lot of people can commiserate with a nightmare experience at Whole Foods, which, for comedian Kelly Maclean, happened during a rather typical visit to the store. In her yuppy anecdote that struck far too close to home for many of us, Maclean made us all wonder why we continue to make regular visits to the "land of hemp milk and honey."
9. We were obsessed with love and marriage...
Aren't we always? We were particularly wowed this year when a Chicago Bulls cheerleader got the surprise of a lifetime in the form of a wedding proposal in the middle of an on-court performance.
We also couldn't help but smile when this recently married couple totally nailed the iconic routine from "Dirty Dancing" at their wedding party.
10. And with those little bundles of joy and noise that sometimes show up as a result.
Babies are a constant source of joy, even when they're not so happy themselves. While we'll never know for sure if this baby was actually crying at her mother's singing -- it could have been gas -- we were all happy to believe that she was.
But most of us know that babies are more than just constant sources of "awwww." For anyone not clear on just how challenging it is to be a parent, this standup routine from comedian Michael McIntyre should help set the record straight.
11. We remembered that it's perfectly acceptable to be who you are.
2013 was a big year for LGBT rights and acceptance, and this grandfather's epic smack-down of his intolerant daughter who'd kicked her gay son out of the house showed us both how far we've come, and how far there is left to go.
12. And we laughed at lies and half-truths...
With all of the fear-based opposition to marijuana out there, it's worth remembering that this GIF still accurately shows all of the people who have died after overdosing on the drug.
13. And because this one little girl really just didn't give a @#$%.
Who needs a routine when the beat of your own drum is this badass. We could all take a some notes from this tutu-wearing tyke.
And now for some more traditional viral bait:
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