8 Things That Broke the Internet in 2014 (for a Minute)

Because we have a collective insatiable maw that needs to be constantly fed new information, it's impossible to remember everything that had us talking in 2014. That was especially true in the second half of the year, when a handful of legitimately important stories managed to distract us from the usual pettiness we focus so much time and energy on. That doesn't mean those things didn't happen, though! The following headline-grabbers held our interest long enough to at least garner a meme or hashtag before we moved on ...

#8. The Red Eye of Bob Costas

Jens Gade/iStock/Getty Images

The Sochi Olympics promised to be a disaster of epic proportions. Leading up to the games, there were accusations of massive corruption, serious concerns about human rights and the treatment of LGBT people, as well as daily reports of construction SNAFUs.

BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg AP
This is a problem.

Everyone loves a train wreck, though, so not surprisingly the world waited with bated breath to see what new strain of calamity would befall the actual events. Who knew the most intense drama would be the battle between NBC's prime-time host Bob Costas and a gross eye infection? With what seemed to be an iron grip on his hosting chair, Costas subjected viewers to nightly appearances by his inflamed peeper. When both eyes began to ooze and glow red, Costas, who has hosted the prime-time Olympics broadcast for NBC since 1988, apparently while wearing the same pair of dusty contact lenses the entire time, finally relinquished his position and took a six-day leave of absence.

TODAY; NBC Olympics
I'll take the inflamed eyes of Costas over Lauer's beady ones any day.

By the time Costas stepped aside to let Matt Lauer cover what was turning out to be a lackluster sporting event, his red eyes had taken on a life of their own and had become the talk of the games.

Postscript

Costas appears to have made a full recovery. But the interest in his ocular misadventures didn't end with the closing ceremonies. Post-Olympics, there was speculation that the eye infection was caused by botched Botox injections. It's a claim NBC denies.

#7. The Potato Salad Kickstarter

Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images

According to Zack Brown, his using Kickstarter to raise $10 for a potato salad was meant to be a joke among friends. While the humorous aspect of the endeavor may have been a bit thin, the success was not. What started out as at best a mediocre gag, turned into a full-blown international news story and ultimately raked in over $55,000.

Wiktory/iStock/Getty Images
Which is odd, considering potato salad is disgusting.

Nearly 7,000 people from 20 different countries donated and helped make the potato salad Kickstarter the fourth-most-viewed page on the crowdfunding site. But it wasn't without detractors. Some complained that it took away from more deserving projects, while others credited it with being the "Harbinger of the fall of the Ironic Empire."

Kickstarter is where the world goes to invest in useless junk. So it's not quite clear why the Internet lost its collective mind over the success of the potato salad campaign. What many seem to forget is that 90 percent of Kickstarter projects are garbage, and the rest are big companies cashing in on easy financing. Yes, I'm looking at you Zach Braff. At least potato salad is (barely) edible. And it's not the stupidest thing ever funded on the site. A staggering $67,000 was raised for a statue of RoboCop in Detroit:

Kickstarter

And over $12,000 was raised to create ...

Kickstarter

... an inflatable sculpture of Lionel Richie's Head. Also, sorry, I was reading from the list of the best things Kickstarter has ever done just now. I promise most of it really is stupid, though.

Postscript

Turns out Zack Brown is a pretty good guy. Instead of taking his windfall and laughing his irony-busting hump all the way to the bank, he decided to do some good. Kickstarter doesn't allow campaigners to give their funds directly to charity, so Brown funded a concert event with proceeds going to nonprofits fighting hunger in Central Ohio. That's so much better than fighting it with $55,000 worth of potato salad.

#6. Alec Baldwin Retires From Public Life

wikipedia

After a string of epic public meltdowns, Alec Baldwin decided that 2014 was the year he'd say good-bye to the haters for good. In a long-winded letter published in New York Magazine, Baldwin announced his retirement from public life. Dramatically titled "Alec Baldwin: Good-Bye, Public Life," the letter was not only a farewell but also an eff you to the many people and things Alec felt slighted by, including but not limited to: Anderson Cooper, Shia LaBeouf (join the club), Andrew Sullivan, Harvey Levin, Rachel Maddow, TMZ, MSNBC, and New York City itself.

Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Stop being a jerk, New York City.

The rambling 5,000-word essay is a lot to chew on, but if you make it to the end, you'll find that Baldwin promises: "I'm aware that it's ironic that I'm making this case in the media -- but this is the last time I'm going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again." That's a pretty strong gauntlet to throw down for someone who seems to thrive on constant attention and is married to someone who incessantly posts self-indulgent yoga poses on her public Instagram account.

Instagram
Yoga is healthy, this dinner won't be.

Postscript

By November of this year Baldwin seemed to be not only ready to return to public life but willing and overly eager to completely embrace it. He and wife Hilaria invited gossipy TV show Extra to follow them on their family vacation in Rome, Italy. While Alec spent time parading his baby daughter around for the paparazzi, Hilaria struck more "yoga" poses for the cameras and anyone else who happened to be passing by. That was fast!

#5. US Airways Twitter Disaster

Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

It's a sad but true fact that 2014 may go down as the year of the disappearing plane. It's looking more and more likely we will never find out what happened to Flight MH370, and that's just one of the many high-profile and completely tragic aviation calamities that dominated headlines this year.

Not every airline disaster was a sad one, though. Take that time US Airways tweeted a very graphic photo in response to a customer complaint about their service, for example.

The image of a woman with a plane lodged in her nether regions accompanying the reply, "We welcome feedback. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow up," was not only shocking, it pretty much negated what we imagine was the intended sentiment. The EXTREMELY NSFW tweet was left up for nearly an hour, which is basically an eternity in Internet time. After it was finally pulled, US Airways offered a profuse apology via Twitter ... sans image of any sort.

Postscript

Undoubtedly the most graphic social media gaff of the year, we assumed heads rolled back at the corporate office. So what happened to the employee who tweeted that epic fail? According to US Airways, nothing. They explained that it wouldn't be fair to fire someone for an "honest mistake," which is pretty cool considering most companies are looking for an easy scapegoat.

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