With every year that passes, our species is less and less capable of paying attention to anything; we're even skimming our Twitter feed now. Look at you: Obscure Bosnian shame-porn open in one window, trolling your high school crush's Facebook page in another; you're goddamn busy. You don't have time to read 140 entire characters that sum up the cultural zeitgeist in society -- what is this, a George R.R. Martin novel? But before you tab away, make sure to catch these terse, grammatically incorrect, occasionally brilliant tweets that best encapsulated 2012. Check this out: No text speak, and every one of these sentences was exactly 140 characters; it's not that hard ... disestablishmentarianism.
The good news is that all of your favorite entertainers have Twitter accounts. The bad news is that none of them feel the need to create actual tweets worth reading -- even the Internet-savvy greats like Louis C.K. use their accounts almost exclusively to remind us to buy tickets or tune in to their shows. Some others have embraced the short-form comedy format to try out jokes or post random thoughts, but that's usually about as good as it gets.
But then you have stand-up comedian Neil Hamburger's Twitter. Neil seems to follow the accounts of every corporate Twitter page out there, all of which post mindless, vapid questions encouraging customers to reply, as if engaging the kids on this "social media" thing will somehow create a new generation of Kentucky Fried Chicken customers. Well, Neil Hamburger has devoted his life to replying to all of their questions:
But what I can't take my eyes off of are the Taco Bell vomit tweets. Neil has apparently figured out that if you search Twitter for Taco Bell you find mostly people complaining that they got horrible food poisoning from it. And he goes through and meticulously retweets all of them. Hundreds and hundreds of "HOLY SHIT TACO BELL JUST GAVE ME EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA" posts:
And it goes on, and on, and on. And I CAN'T STOP READING THEM.
The 2012 Olympics was the most viewed television event of the year. Also, of any year. In a world that was supposed to be getting more ADD and divided, the Olympics showed what Super Bowls and the assassination of Osama bin Laden had only hinted at. When everyone is watching the same thing, the Internet is more fun, and watching the same thing is more fun with the Internet. Case in point: Samuel L. Jackson's work as the unofficial, uncensored color commentator of this year's games. We might have been watching everything on tape delay, but it didn't matter, because Jules Winnfield was watching it on tape delay with us.
Not a fan of wildly partisan complaints about Canadian dives being "ALL Fucked Up!" or phrases like "dusting ass"? Just tune in to one of your other favorite celebrities, or writers, or exclaimers. Although, if you aren't already making plans to incorporate "dusting ass" into your vocabulary, there may be something very wrong with you.
I don't want to get down on BuzzFeed here. They are nice people and they like nice things and I've wasted time on their website just like anyone else who is intimidated by reading. And I'm not bringing BuzzFeed up because of pieces like 15 Photos of Cheese Sticks and That's It, or 9 GIFs of Cats High-Fiving Other GIFs. After all, every site's got their schtick. We can't throw stones, especially after our award-winning expose, 5 Bafflingly Mind-Blowing Things That Can't (But Won't). No, I'm bringing up BuzzFeed because of a problem we are currently facing: the end of nostalgia.
The Internet loves a good reminder of things past, and BuzzFeed is proof of that. They are pretty '90s-obsessed over there, and for good reason. Most of their staff grew up during the '90s, and most of their audience did as well. I did. Maybe you did. So when they make a post about slap bracelets, I first think "Why yes. I do remember slap bracelets. Please, go on." But that's where it stops. There is no additional observation about slap bracelets. There is no interesting or funny twist on the concept of slap bracelets. It's just a picture of a slap bracelet. It's the same trick the Epic Movie guys pull: Thing Recognition, which is stating that a thing exists, or used to exist, and banking on an audience's recognition to do the rest of the work for you.
"Not only did Britney Spears once shave her head, but Little Miss Sunshine is also a thing. Wow, I just nailed it. I nailed that joke."
- writer of Meet the Spartans
I remember a time when I thought that starting sentences with "I remember a time when" meant that a person was getting old and out of touch, but I'm going to use it anyway. I remember a time when I would have a flash of something from my childhood. Maybe an image of a TV show or an old toy. That time was before the Internet, and all I had was the memory. Until one day when I walked by a garage sale and something caught my eye. A toy. A familiar toy that, oh my God holy shit, was the one from my childhood! "Oh my shit," I would exclaim to whomever was nearby and confused, "Do you remember these things? Wow. These were great. Oh, wow. Cool. I thought I'd never see these again. I barely remembered what they looked like, but now here they are! Ah, memories ..."
That time is done, though. I will probably never experience another moment like that in my life. Because now I have the Internet, and anything I can remember I can see if I just log enough time Googling for it. Nerfuls? Yep. Starcom? Yep. Easy. No memories needed, no "Oh my shit!" moment received. Just a picture to remind you of what a relatively recent decade was like.
Cracked delivers far more fun animal facts, and you don't have to talk your parents into whipping out the credit card.
Again, I don't want to be all down on BuzzFeed. They don't do only this. They also have a very thorough political blog and, again, are very nice people. But they also lifted up 2012 and made it the year of '90s nostalgia. There was a noticeable spike in posts about Mr. Feeny and the Aggro Crag. The '90s are the last decade Before Internet (which is to say, before good Internet), so I think it is the most precious to a lot of people. But the thing about nostalgia, and the past, and the '90s specifically, is that it's all finite. Next year, you can't just keep remembering about how much you loved Hocus Pocus, or how you remember that Tamagotchis were a thing, because you already spent all of this year remembering those things. We fucking know by now. The Internet's speed and vastness has allowed us to pack a decade's worth of nostalgia into a single year, and we're reaching a boiling point of remembering things from less than twenty years ago. Please take the pot off the goddamn stove and cook something new.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, platform diver Tom Daley barely missed out on medaling, and within minutes of his final dive, he received the tweet above from a 17-year-old kid. To give a little more context, Tom Daley's father had died of brain cancer a year earlier. Rileyy_69 went on to tell Daley that he wanted to find him and drown him in a pool.
Now, social media has been a lawless wasteland since its inception. At some point, we all just accepted that it would be full of trolls and other online equivalents of the bad guy from Lethal Weapon 2 discharging his weapon in all directions while shouting "Diplomatic immunity!" Except this time, Tom Daley refused to just let it go. Instead, he contacted police about the offending posts and the cops tracked down the 17-year-old kid and arrested him. To be clear, a teenager wrote some mean things to a stranger on Twitter and then got arrested for it. Whether or not this was a result of the hyper-security surrounding the Olympics, this year marks the first time, as far as I know, that someone has faced criminal consequences just for being a dick online.
Fred Duval / Getty
Daley, meanwhile, went on to a successful career of having perpetual bed head.
I would hope that this would make people think twice before spilling clumsy, misspelled abuse across comment sections or inviting strangers to kill themselves. It certainly worked for the 17-year-old, who accepted full responsibility for his actions and apologized profusely for any pain he ca- oh no, wait. He did none of that. In an interview with The Daily Mail, he remained stubbornly unrepentant, complaining "I shouldn't be victimized -- and I hope he loses the next competition that he is in." He has since gained tens of thousands of Twitter followers.