The Year Observed

The 13 Most Internet Things of 2013

Drake hands and Pornhub and doge, oh my.

While some people may have spent 2013 paying attention to current events, fashion or culture, we at Betabeat spent the past 12 months absorbing dumb Internet things, as always. What makes a thing an Internet thing? It has to be something that wouldn’t have occurred pre-Internet, and it has to be absurd.

Ylvis’s “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say),” for example, is not an Internet thing. It may have gone viral on the Internet, but it’s easy to imagine it existing in a pre-digital age as an SNL hit or a “funny” music video parody on MTV. Plus it’s annoying.

Internet things must be weirder and beholden to the Internet for their very existence. Here are our top 13.

13. The Beyoncé Super Bowl photos that redefined flawless

Beyoncé performed at the Super Bowl, people gushed about her immense perfection as usual — and some photogs took really unflattering pictures of her. Her publicist emailed BuzzFeed to ask them to take a few down from their resultant listicle.

BuzzFeed channeled its inner hater for once and made a new post: “The ‘Unflattering’ Photos Beyoncé’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See.” This was a rallying cry for whoever makes memes. The Internet responded thusly:

beyonce flies away

12. Goats yelling like humans

Self-explanatory. We don’t even want to know how many times we watched this.

11. Michael Shannon reads deranged sorority girl’s email

The email itself was wonderfully Internet enough, then College Humor went and added everyone’s favorite twisted 1920s prohibition enforcer. As is the case with most of the things on our list, this resulted in a mashup everybody loved, even though no one had particularly asked for it.

10. @tofu_product takes on the flavor of Twitter

This automated (we think?) account takes stock of your tweets and responds to you with a string of words taken from your Twitter feed. For narcissistic millennials who spend their days cultivating fake identities via social media, a tweet from @tofu_product can be sadly thrilling and gratifying.

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 15.19.58

9. The Sound of Music Live! breaks Twitter

Yes, this is actually a TV event. But such a WTF event never would have occurred without NBC’s knowledge that Twitter would take the concept and run with it.

It’s impossible to quantify just how much of a ratings boost The Sound of Music Live! got from Twitter. One thing is for sure, though: we’ll take this genre of Twitter-TV synergy over watching a news anchor read through random tweets any day.

Honorable mention goes to @DiGiornoPizza for using #TheSoundofMusicLive for shameless/absurd pizza promos.

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 15.33.06

8. Pornhub comments on stock photos

What’s not to love? And kudos to whatever web developer opted to give Pornhub’s, er, users the opportunity to put in their two cents under each and every video.

pornhub The 13 Most Internet Things of 2013

7. Teen Rickrolls Vine, feels bad about it

Vine was invented this year, which was an Internet thing in and of itself. But things really got Internetty when one spotty youth hacked the new network and, not knowing what else to do, uploaded Rick Astley’s greatest (only?) hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” in its entirety, thereby shattering Vine’s six-second-only rule.

After he got caught, he unleashed an act of contrition on Twitter and his blog and said he was “mortified” to have “ruined some poor engineer’s day.” Everyone else thought it was hilarious.

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

6. This Upworthy headline will make you wonder why you’re alive

It was a banner year for maudlin, uplifting blog posts that exist only as a way for people to demonstrate that they’re better than you. The worst offenders are ViralNova and Upworthy, whose cringe-inducing headlines gave new meaning to the word crass. Every single post is designed for maximum viral lift.

We’re pretty sure the only reason people click on this crap is to get the URL and promptly post “Not An Exaggeration: This Video Can Actually Help You Save Someone’s Life One Day” or “What Happened Seconds After They Took This ‘Selfie’ Is Horrifying. There Are No Words.” on their own wall. This headline, for example, comes from a listicle about a squirrel. A SQUIRREL.

Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 10.15.15

5. @keelayjams’s entire Vine feed

Vine mainly consists of loudmouthed 20something cornballs showing off their improv skills. But one account, that of @keelayjams, is different. This Vine user takes pop culture artifacts like Monster energy drinks, Motorola Razr phones, and ’90s sitcom characters, and mashes them together for absurd results. He’s probably the only Vine celeb you wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch in public.

4. Brands going HAM on Twitter

2013 was the year of giant corporations finally learning how to #leverage #socialmedia for #capital #gains in a way that was hard to ignore. Is this a good thing? Meh. We’re going to have to look at ads in our social media feeds either way. At least watching brands take risks is more entertaining — especially when they flop — than the misguided, boring, hashtag-laden tweets of the past.

Remember this gem?

Someone lost their job.

Ouch.

3. Pinterest user attributes Hitler quotes to Taylor Swift

Few Pinterest and Instagram tropes are more grating than the inspirational quote. One Pinterest user, though, skewered inspirational-quote-pushers perfectly when she created share-able images of Taylor Swift with daintily-fonted quotes trumpeting individuality. They got tons of pins from users who didn’t realize the quotes they were reading actually came from Adolf Hitler.

taylor swift hitler

2. Starbucks Drake hands

This Internet thing has a lengthy back story — which, arguably, makes it all the more Internet. It’s a meme that started when a barista hit on a model. She gave him her number and instead of texting her like a normal person, he opted to make a video of his face with a Drake song playing in the background. Midway through the clip, he silently runs his hand across his face for no apparent reason.

She uploaded it to Instagram, and the Internet went wild.

1. Doge

The general consensus is that doge won the Internet this year. Although it’s become passé rather quickly, we have to agree. After all, it has its own digital currency now, which has morphed into an Internet thing in its own right. 2014 Internet things, you have big shoes to fill.

36e The 13 Most Internet Things of 2013

the year observed

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com