What Did Being Online Look Like for You in 2022?

Can you name these people? Photo-Illustration: Rowena Lloyd and Susanna Hayward; Photos: Courtesy of The Try Guys/YouTube, @trishlikefish88/TikTok and Spotify/YouTube

In 2022, when Saturday Night Live is writing sketches about the Try Guys and TikTok users are paying to attend concerts to sing 15 seconds of a viral song, what does it actually mean to be “extremely online”? We’re all citizens of the internet now, just to varying degrees — and while some of us are better than others at navigating the latest online spectacles, possessing that sort of web fluency can no longer be characterized as chaotic, messy, hellish, or deranged. Being online is all of those things and much more; we have our bespoke “For You” pages and specific spoon-fed content meant to appeal to our interests. That’s how it’s possible for someone to scroll TikTok daily and still be unfamiliar with “womblands.” (Oh, what luck.)

This is what makes capturing a year on the internet in an end-of-year post uniquely challenging. Who am I to say what online drama you missed this year or what being online looked like for you? I’ve spent the past year writing about the internet for my newsletter Embedded, trying to make sense of the ways our relationship with the internet is changing. The project entailed keeping tabs on the minutiae of internet culture as they developed, from the things that make front-page news to the detailed Reddit takes, deciding what’s worth further examination and what’s just the “weird thing that happened that day.”

An attempt to recap everything that happened online in 2022 would yield a list that lasts us until 2024. Instead, I’ve created a system to organize the moments that actually mattered to people who used the internet this year. Knowledge of an item on this list earns points based on just how online you had to be to have witnessed it. Here, how the scoring stacks up:

1 point: Do you remember the Slap? Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s trial? Of course you do. Your parents, camp friends, and former boss remember them too. They were huge stories, and while you might have read about or seen them memed online, they didn’t start there. Those moments, along with Don’t Worry Darling and anything involving Ye, are not really online stories, so they don’t appear below. This is us acknowledging them. No entry gets one point in this post. Now that we’re on the same page, we’ll move on.

2 points: Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie probably haven’t heard of it, but you could still explain it to a Victorian child if given five minutes and some props.

3 points: An increasingly niche topic that was probably fed to you on your “For You” page, Twitter feed, or YouTube recommendations.

4 points: A wormhole topic or event that requires intentional research or involvement in a specific fandom to understand. Maybe one of your friends is also on this journey, so you side-channel outside the group chat to not bother everyone else.

5 points: Layered drama that is borderline inscrutable. There’s no hope of explaining these stories to someone who doesn’t possess at least a level-three grasp of the internet.

For each moment you remember witnessing, you earn the corresponding number of points. Add them all up at the end to see just how online you were in 2022.

The case of the missing Apes (January)

2022 was bookended by perhaps the two most notable events in crypto history: It ended with the collapse of hedge FTX and arrest of CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (not an online story), and started with the equally thrilling theft of all of Twitter user @toddkramer1’s apes (clearly an online story).

“I been hacked. all my apes gone. this just sold please help me,” he tweeted (and later deleted) in desperation after realizing a hacker had absconded with a bunch of NFTs he had purchased from the Bored Ape Yacht Club totaling around $2.2 million. While this tweet was technically posted December 30, 2021, the Schadenfreude of watching an NFT enthusiast learn firsthand just how much of a waste of time and money a bunch of cartoon apes are lasted well into January in the form of memes. Currently, @toddkramer1 is still tweeting about NFTs.

Photo: Twitter/Screenshot

4 points: No one should hear the sentence “I been hacked. all my apes gone” and understand it.

West Elm Caleb: TikTok’s ex (January)

Notes of Couch Guy and tannins of that actual West Elm couch everyone hates combined to give us West Elm Caleb, a 25-year-old serial NYC ghoster–cum–West Elm employee who got absolutely wrung out on TikTok by the women he’s wronged. But this saga was more notable as an example of TikTok’s tendency to true-crime-ify everything. Across the world, people were finding and posting pictures of Caleb and baselessly diagnosing him with personality disorders in the Instagram comments of his employer as justification for a consequence that greatly outweighed his crimes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we then had to reach a bunch of think pieces about it!

2 points: Known mostly by avid readers of said think pieces and viewers of The Daily Show.

r/AntiWork takes a sick day (January)

The r/AntiWork sub-Reddit gained unprecedented popularity during the pandemic, reaching close to 2 million users as more and more people began to rethink their relationships with work. The online movement earned praise from the New York Times and Slate for encouraging workers to demand better conditions — until one Fox News interview sent it tumbling.

Sub-Reddit moderator Doreen Ford appeared on Jesse Watters Primetime, which was widely regarded as a disappointment. Many members of the community felt Ford, who worked 25 hours a week as a dog walker, was not an accurate representation of the movement. Others took issue with her decision to go on Fox News at all. Things got worse when moderators began removing content related to the interview from the page and banning users attempting to speak out. After locking the sub-Reddit to regroup, the remaining moderators ultimately removed Ford from her duties. Despite this, the group appears to have recovered, now sitting at 2.3 million members.

3 points: This would have been a 5 until it hit Fox News.

Poetry gets slammed (February)

Violence is never the answer, but unfortunately poetry isn’t, either. Actress AnnaLynne McCord learned that the hard way when her poem “Dear Mister President Vladimir Putin, I am so sorry I was not your mother” failed to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It did, however, allow for a days-long roasting and expose the way none of us really knows the right way to behave on social media when the world is in crisis. Thanks to McCord, though, we now know the wrong way.

3 points: This made waves only on Twitter, which just 23 percent of American adults say they use — and that stat is from before the Elon era.

Julia Fox’s musings (February–March)

Julia Fox’s ten-second sound bite acknowledging she “was Josh Safdie’s muse when he wrote Unkah Gehhmmss” immediately became a viral TikTok sound used in over 50,000 videos. But she didn’t stop there! A month later, she achieved virality yet again on the Vanity Fair Oscars-party red carpet, telling a reporter, “I actually did it myself … yeah,” in regards to her eye makeup. That, plus her later claiming she dated Kanye only to get him “off Kim’s case,” further solidified the welcome dissociative nature of the Julia Foxaissance.

3 points: Despite hearing her voice in every other TikTok video, if I showed a picture of her to my parents, they’d think something had happened to Keira Knightley.

Lost in womblands (March)

After two internet microcelebrities broke up, public TikTok drama took over. TikToker Chelsea Hart, who uses they/them pronouns, accused fellow creator Lance Tsosie of mistreating them during their relationship, which they claimed, in since-deleted videos, included unclear consent boundaries and an alleged pregnancy. However, gaps in Hart’s story — and the racial dynamics between Hart, who is white, and Tsosie, who is Native American — meant the breakup became a spectacle, exacerbated by the participants’ reliance on TikTok as a means of exacting public justice for personal wounds. In the process, Hart made a video that used the words “I have an ache that lives deep in my womb, Lance.” It was misheard as “womblands,” and thus, thanks to TikTok lip syncs and remixes, a meme was born.

5 points: At its height, womblands had accrued multiple Reddit threads and TikTok drama accounts dedicated to parsing the various back-and-forths of the saga. Now almost all primary evidence has been deleted. It’s already reached IYKYK status — and if you do know, then congrats: You just got five well-earned points.

Lambdabasted (March)

Heated debates and online dustups are a staple of the behemoth that is Author Twitter, but some users play more actively than others. One year after telling Goodreads reviewers who gave her book four stars to “grow up,” author Lauren Hough’s staunch and at times aggressive Twitter defense of Sandra Newman’s novel The Men, which many trans people and activists took issue with for its approach to gender, resulted in Lambda Literary pulling her nomination for an award.

Hough denied exhibiting transphobia and accused Lamba of “character assassination” to the Times. This incident’s inclusion is less about the validity of Lambda Literary’s decision and more about noting the increasing collision of even these niche online cultures with real-world circumstances.

4 points: Stumbling into Author Twitter always feels like this scene from Community.

The veins remain! (April)

Great googly moogly: Twitter jester @JUNIPER manufactured a full right-wing panic by tweeting out a doctored headline that claimed Snickers were “officially caving” and removing the “renowned dick vein” from the candy bar at the behest of “woke mobs.” The tweet received more than 16,000 retweets, forcing Snickers to assure customers, “THE VEINS REMAIN!”

This is what a dick-vein-less Snickers looks like, by the way:

3 points: Snopes had to do a whole thing about this.

WWMMTD? (What would Mormon MomTok do?) (May)

One of the marvels of social media is that kids will be able to look back and get front-row seats to their parents’ lives — and boy will the lucky children of a clique of Utah Mormon moms of TikTok get an eyeful. When 28-year-old Taylor Frankie Paul announced to her 3.5 million TikTok followers that she and her husband, Tate Paul, were getting a divorce, she decided to take everyone in her community down with her by revealing it was because she fell in love with another man in a group of couples with whom they were “soft-swinging.” Many Mormon MomTokers associated with Paul rushed to deny their involvement, but how can you fake chemistry like this?

3 points: Mormon, MomTok, and soft-swinging are three words that are irresistible to the algorithm. Even if you didn’t think you cared, TikTok was determined to make you.

Live from New York, it’s Jake Novak (June)

Disappointment rippled through the comedy world when Saturday Night Live announced new cast members and actor-musician Jake Novak was not on the list. Novak went viral for an extremely earnest song he performed on TikTok about his desire to be on the variety sketch show. It was promptly torn apart by all of TikTok for committing the cardinal sin of “being cringe.”

“It has caused serious emotional distress for not just me but for my friends and co-workers who had nothing to do with any of this,” Novak told Vulture seven weeks after the initial video, his only public comments about the backlash. He still hasn’t returned to social media.

4 points: In good news for Novak, none of this spectacle mattered outside the specific side of TikTok that, in bad news for Novak, was still powerful enough to make his life temporarily hell.

Influencer indigestion (June)

Brands like Daily Harvest are best known for appearing in Instagram feeds thanks to the valiant work of influencers — some of whom later end up in the emergency room. A number of endorsers fell ill with intense stomach pain after consuming the brand’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles flavor; naturally, they then posted about their symptoms. While outsourcing promotion to influencers is common practice, social-media users were frustrated that the brand also seemed content to let online creators raise awareness about the illnesses, as well. In a press release addressing the complaints, Daily Harvest said a “small number of customers” had reported “gastrointestinal discomfort” and, six days later, revealed it had received “470 reports of illness or adverse reactions.” Insider reported that more than 220 people retained legal counsel to pursue claims against the brand.

4 points: Thankfully, “French Lentil + Leek Crumbles” sounds really bad — otherwise more people might have been affected!

Not-so-funny girl (July)

In an incredible instance of “life imitates Glee,” Lea Michele’s lifelong dream of playing the role of Fanny Brice on Broadway came true — and no one was more excited than TikTok. Try as we did to root for Beanie Feldstein, who kicked off the show’s revival in April, Vulture wrote that “song after song, Feldstein’s voice lets her down.” Rumors of Feldstein’s replacement began circulating, and when Michele was finally announced as her successor (after a series of cryptic Instagram statements from Feldstein), the internet couldn’t help but celebrate. That celebration continued all the way to December, when the show brought in a record gross of $2 million across eight shows in one week.

2 points: This story brought together Broadway nerds, Glee nerds, Lea Michele fans, Lea Michele haters, and everyone who’s been wondering if she could read because the spotlight eventually forced her to acknowledge (but not explicitly deny!) the long-running internet rumor.

Tickle me pink (July)

“Sorry, millennial pink is over.” — the FDA, if it had ever been approached about a TikTok-viral condiment called “Pink Sauce.”

Created by Chef Pii, the mixture of dragon fruit, honey, chili, and garlic gained millions of views for its shocking color but began to fall out of favor when customers who ordered it noticed things such as a rotten smell and inaccuracies on the label.

“What do you mean, FDA approved?” Pii said in an Instagram Live when asked about the sauce’s safety. “I don’t sell medical products. The Pink Sauce is not a medical product. The Pink Sauce don’t contribute to your health.”

Well, asked and answered, I guess!

3 points: With millions of views across TikTok and even a (suspiciously deleted) appearance on Karamo Brown’s talk show, this star burned fast and bright. Seriously — is something in that sauce burning?

Burned Bridgertons (July)

In 2021, artists Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear produced a series of TikTok songs meant to re-create the plot of season one of Netflix’s Bridgerton as a musical. The TikToks went super-viral, turning into a trend that Netflix initially tweeted it was “absolutely blown away” by. The subsequent 15-track album won a Grammy, but a live concert of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, put on at the Kennedy Center, resulted in a lawsuit from the streaming giant that accused the pair of profiting off Netflix’s IP without permission. Netflix later settled the lawsuit, but this does not bode well for Ratatouille.

3 points: While Bridgerton the TV show broke Netflix records upon the release of its second season, the words “viral TikTok musical” are only for a very specific person’s algorithm.

Private jets go public (August)

Thanks to the hard work of accounts like @CelebJets — now kicked off Twitter as part of Elon Musk’s private-jet-tracker purge — digital-marketing agency Yard revealed the ten celebrities who it claims have accrued the most carbon-dioxide emissions from their private jets. Taylor Swift did as she always does and took the No. 1 spot on the chart, but with a reported 170 flights producing 8,293.54 tons of emissions so far in 2022, this is not a time to celebrate outranking Jay-Z. The memes rolled in over the next week. While a rep for Swift issued a statement saying that actually the singer’s jet is regularly loaned out to other individuals who also contributed to those emissions, Swift later admitted, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” At least that’s one way to interpret the lyrics to “Anti-Hero.”

3 points: Despite it involving literally the most famous celebrity in the world, this is a 3 because, like most climate-change-related news, ultimately no one cared.

Mardoll unmasked (August)

Oh, you can only recall one deeply layered, impossibly niche Author Twitter controversy from this year? Sounds like you aren’t very online. Ana Mardoll, a YA author responsible for certain Twitter-poisoned social-justice scolding like “telling people to read is ableist,” was later revealed by Kiwi Farms (remember that name for later) to be an employee of defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The hypocrisy of a frequent Twitter social-justice main character working for a company accused of complicity in war crimes was delicious meme fodder for many, while others cautioned against celebrating any kind of doxxing and extended their sympathy to Mardoll. Mardoll’s arc illustrated how, over the past 15 years, Twitter personalities have built large followings based solely on their known online personas — which is to say, they may be built on an uncertain foundation.

Most evidence of this has been deleted, but screenshots are preserved here.

5 points: A Victorian child would rather go back to work in the factory than listen to you try to explain this.

Let’s go, TikTok lesbians (August)

Four couples, four breakups, one Jojo Siwa — let’s go. August on TikTok was referred to as the “Lesbian Breakup Apocalypse” as prominent couples Sedona Prince and Rylee LeGlue, Alissa Carrington and Samantha Miani, Avery Cyrus and Soph Mosca, and Jojo Siwa and Kylie Prew split within weeks of one another. Tracking the clues and allegations of these splits proved to be a full-time job for outside observers. With the exception of Siwa, what was most notable about the members of these couples was that their fame on the app was primarily because of their relationships — a bizarre dynamic to navigate when those relationships end.

Cyrus and Siwa overcame that challenge by merging worlds and making content together. Naturally, a month later, they were dating … only to break up in December for what might be Lesbian Breakup Apocalypse 2.0.

There’s also a whole musical element to this that I honestly don’t have the time or space to get into, but it’s all explained here:

3 points: How am I, a straight woman who has been in a relationship for four years, able to explain this? Because places like “Page Six” started covering it.

Thrust into the spotlight (September)

The first 20 seconds of “Cbat,” a 2011 song from Scottish DJ Hudson Mohawke, sound like the intro to any other electronic song. But then the jarring, dissonant main melody “hits you like a roided freight train,” in the words of YouTube commenter Goku _Dunker_420. This relatively unknown song rose to prominence this year thanks to Reddit, when user TylerLife lamented that, while the song was part of his sex playlist — and integral to the rhythm of his thrusts — his girlfriend hated it. After listening, it’s really hard not to side with the GF. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for Mohawke, the virality of this Reddit post earned the song millions of views on YouTube and caused it to become a trending sound on TikTok.

“I’ve been putting on music for 16 years or something like that,” Mohawke told Insider. “If this becomes the defining point of my career, I’m going to be really annoyed.”

5 points: While this “melody” might be familiar to anyone who used TikTok this year, only the truly cursed know its origins.

Kiwi goes kaput (September)

Kiwi Farms, the online forum responsible for the unmasking of Mardoll, has long targeted internet users it deems worthy of mockery — often people who are trans, disabled, or mentally ill. At least one target of the site’s harassment has died by suicide. Following a campaign by trans Twitch streamer Keffals, who had faced repeated harassment from Kiwi Farms users, to get web host Cloudflare to drop the site as a client, the service did so on September 3, citing the forum’s threats to human life. Kiwi Farms then tried, and ultimately failed, to reestablish itself on a Russian domain.

The website quietly came back in October, but Keffals had stated total removal was never the goal. Rather, it was to firmly establish the site as a danger to the point that major web-hosting corporations would refuse to work with it, effectively kneecapping its long-term stability.

“Whether or not we are able to completely remove Kiwi Farms from the internet is irrelevant to the fact that the goals of our campaign have not only been achieved, but have achieved more than we could have ever expected,” Keffals wrote in a statement September 5.

4 points: While Kiwi Farms is part of the dark underbelly of the internet, Keffals’s campaign earned it some long-overdue mainstream attention from outlets such as the Washington Post and NPR.

Her Royal Highness, Malibu Barbie (September)

Has anyone ever seen Queen Elizabeth II and Trisha Paytas’s child, Malibu Barbie, in the same room? No, because the English monarch passed away September 8 and the controversial YouTube personality announced the birth of her daughter September 15, causing many to jokingly speculate that the royal had been reincarnated as Paytas’s first born. After trending below the queen on Twitter, Paytas took to TikTok with a video captioned “Storytime: i did NOT rebirth the Queen of England” to clear things up. Thanks!

5 points: I need a video of someone explaining to King Charles III who Paytas is.

Sunday morning, DMs are calling (September)

Instagram model Sumner Stroh took to TikTok to claim she had a yearlong affair with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, who is married to model Behati Prinsloo. At the time, Prinsloo was expecting their third child. One day, that child will not only read the alleged DMs from the singer (including the phrases “I may need to see the booty” and other embarrassingly thirsty sexts) but also see how they were memed into history. Makes soft-swinging Mormons seem not so bad, huh? Just kidding — it’s all terrible.

2 points: Fuckkkkkkkkk the day when this was all Twitter could talk about.

Influencer, indignant (September)

Despite Kim Kardashian getting flamed to Calabasas and back in March for telling Variety it seemed as if “nobody wants to work these days,” influencer Tara Lynn made similar comments on TikTok in September when talking about the app BeReal.

“This BeReal could go off at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., doesn’t matter — everyone’s in bed,” she said in the now-deleted video. “There is an alarming amount of people, every time that BeReal goes off, that are just in bed with the shades drawn.”

She added, “Why are you in bed? It seems like nobody wants to work. Get your fucking ass up and work!”

Unsurprisingly, a bunch of non-influencers didn’t appreciate being scolded about their work ethic from someone who, from their point of view, makes her living firing off a few 30-second videos a week. While Lynn has a penchant for sticking her foot in her mouth, in this case her comments revealed a larger frustration with, and misunderstanding of, influencers. This was only exacerbated when an old clip of beauty guru Mikayla Nogueira resurfaced that same month. “I literally just finished work, and it’s 5:19,” she said in a since-deleted 2021 video. “Try being an influencer for a day. Try it.” The backlash prompted her to take a step back from posting online content before returning in November.

4 points: Kim Kardashian did it better.

Try Guys on trial (September–October)

The extremely public implosion of former BuzzFeed YouTube collective the Try Guys should serve as a stark warning for Wife Guys everywhere. After one of their members, Ned Fulmer, was caught by fans cheating on his wife with his co-worker, the Try Guys sub-Reddit was abuzz with speculation long before the titular Guys made a statement confirming the suspicions. Fulmer has since departed the group and has been covertly — and not-so-covertly — edited out of the remaining videos he filmed. The situation even made it to SNL, where Novak would have done a much better job satirizing the situation.

2.5 points: This is solidly tier-4 drama that somehow got catapulted to a 1 through collective psychosis, so let’s average it out to a generous 2.5.

James Corden had a great fall (October)

Late Late Show host and Cats (2019) star James Corden is not a good egg. Or at least that’s what Keith McNally, owner of the NYC mainstay Balthazar, alleged on Instagram when he accused the Brit of being rude to his staff for, among other things, a bit of egg white ending up in Corden’s wife’s egg-yolk (?) omelet. McNally forgave the host following a phone call but then revoked it after Corden addressed the allegations in a few interviews during a press tour and even in a monologue on his own show. McNally called the behavior “contrived and phony.”

2 points: While the incident was viral enough for Corden to address it on live television, the drama really hit for the people who have been privy to the long-standing online lore of Corden’s shitty behavior, including a disastrous 2019 Reddit AMA.

Avian fluke (October–December)

Taylor Blake, the TikTok creator who posts from her family’s South Florida farm Knuckle Bump Farms, announced in October that 99 percent of their birds had been lost in an avian-flu outbreak. Emmanuel, an emu who gained celebrity status on TikTok for interrupting Blake’s videos and attacking her phone camera, appeared to have contracted the illness, Blake revealed, and was currently battling the disease.

The internet quickly rallied behind Emmanuel, but questions started to arise. In one photo, Blake is seen kissing the afflicted emu despite the fact that avian influenza can pass from birds to humans and we just went through two years of a different pandemic. Blake later announced that it turns out Emmanuel had not, in fact, suffered from avian flu and that his flulike symptoms were instead the result of stress. However, just this month, a serology test conducted by the USDA revealed that Emmanuel had indeed at some point had the flu. Are you keeping up? Because it gets weirder.

This means that while the state euthanized most of Blake’s flock to combat the outbreak, Emmanuel was exempt for reasons one recent ecology grad claims is preferential treatment for his celebrity-emu status. And on top of all this, Blake herself came under fire after screenshots resurfaced that appear to show her posting racial slurs on Twitter. She has not addressed the past slurs or the recent allegations of preferential treatment.

3 points: Blake and an Emmanuel puppet appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in July. While the world rallied for the emu, only the truly online have stuck around for the accusations of emu privilege.

ScamBnB (October–November)

TikTok user Carrie Jade Williams went viral on TikTok when she claimed (in now-deleted videos) she was being sued for £450,000 by Airbnb guests who said they were so upset by seeing disability aids in her home that they’d needed extensive therapy. She also claimed they had worried they could “catch” her disability from her (Williams claimed she suffered from Huntington’s disease). But it turns out Carrie Jade Williams does not exist. Her real name is Samantha Cookes, and Vice News reported that the Ireland-based creator had spent years adopting different identities — from nanny to surrogate to author — and abandoning them after their inauthenticity was revealed.

4 points: Finally, some Irish drama gets its moment in the internet spotlight.

Twitter gets Musked (November)

It’s hard to pick one moment that exemplifies the true disaster that is Musk’s takeover of Twitter, since in those lawless early weeks users kamikazed their accounts for the sake of posing as arguing popes, a pharmaceutical company announcing free insulin, and a banana distributor announcing it had overthrown the Brazilian government. But we’ll go with Doja Cat changing her display name to “Elon Musk” and then “fart.” Musk’s purchase showed how the true desire of social-media users is neither good nor evil; it is simply to be stupid.

2 points: There was so much activity that this was pretty hard to miss even subtracting the 32 million users Twitter is now expected to lose.

Scorsese psychosis (November)

Almost every internet joke gains popularity because people decide to take something stupid very, very seriously. There’s perhaps no better example of this in 2022 than Goncharov, a fake Martin Scorsese movie invented by Tumblr users that made it all the way to Scorsese himself.

The supposed 1973 movie stars Robert De Niro as Goncharov, a Russian hit man and former discotheque owner, alongside Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Harvey Keitel. The joke originated from a picture posted by a now-inactive Tumblr user of some mysterious text printed on the tag of a pair of knockoff boots.

“The greatest Mafia movie ever made,” it reads. “Martin Scorsese presents GONCHAROV. Domenico Proccaci production. A film by Matteo JWHJ0715. About the Naples Mafia.”

The internet took this and ran with it, creating extensive lore about the movie and its production in an attempt to Mandela-effect it into our consciousness. Scorsese’s daughter Francesca revealed in a TikTok that her father is indeed in on the joke, and now the internet’s work is done (until the inevitable Goncharov sequel, Goncharov 2: 2 Goncharov 2 Furious).

2 points: This is the one instance in which the subject of a joke getting in on the joke makes it better, not worse.

Liver King lies (December)

Just six months ago, internet personality the Liver King was landing GQ profiles and podcast appearances while preaching the miracles of a raw-organ diet that, along with his brand Ancestral Supplements, he credited for his overwhelmingly jacked appearance and promised would restore masculinity to modern men. But on December 1 he posted a video admitting what many had long suspected: His beefed-up, upside-down-triangle body was not entirely thanks to eating raw liver and dragging weights around with his teeth. It was steroids.

This bombshell was first dropped by fellow YouTuber More Plates More Dates, who revealed emails purporting to show the Liver King’s steroid prescriptions. Days later, the YouTube personality came clean, claiming his online persona was “an experiment to spread the message” about what he feels is the decline of masculinity.

3 points: I’m starting to think people lie a lot on the internet.

Something Nefarious (December)

It’s not clear what’s more shocking: the Business Insider report about the “floundering” state of megainfluencer Arielle Charnas’s business, Something Navy, or the wild rumors fans thought the article was going to be about. Charnas, an OG millennial Instagram influencer who now has 1.3 million followers, has been an unsympathetic character since fleeing New York City with COVID in 2020. The more lavish and unattainable her Instagram feed has gotten, the thirstier people have been for some kind of comeuppance. When the Instagram gossip account DeuxMoi hinted at an article on the state of Charnas’s business as well as her marriage to Brandon Charnas, online accusations of cheating and embezzlement flew. It turns out, however, that an influencer brand that sells $475 coats (among other things) just isn’t doing well in this economy. Boring!

2.5 points: This drama was not just mentioned in almost every group chat I’m in but transcended its solidly millennial audience to capture Gen Z, which is always thirsty for a mystery it can completely over blow.


No offense to Dictionary.com and women everywhere, but nepotism baby was the real buzzword of 2022. From Euphoria’s Maude Apatow to, uh, whatever Lily Rose Depp’s thing is, nepo babies were equal parts aspirational and infuriating. After New York published a definitive breakdown of Hollywood’s famous children, the internet predictably exploded. [Editor’s note: Vulture is part of New York magazine. This entry is about a thing we did. Boy did it get a rise out of people!] Whether it was celebrities like Lily Allen rushing to their defense or TikTok’s gleeful reveling in some of the more astonishing reveals, this last gasp of discourse feels like the broken, 2022 version of gathering to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

2 Points: Gen Z is mad about it, millennials are benefiting from it — finally something that unifies us. Happy holidays!


Your year was …

0 - 30 POINTS: Kinda plugged in.

You had a decent grasp on the many machinations of the internet’s main characters but enough IRL hobbies to keep your distance. You probably still read a book before bed instead of scrolling your phone.

31 - 70 POINTS: One would call you “extremely online.” 

You spent your work days scrolling r/NYCInfluencerSnark and now can’t fall asleep without an ASMR video playing. TikTok frequently serves you those “Hey, you’ve been scrolling for a while” alerts, but to your credit, you usually listen and log off by the time the second one comes around.

71 - 99 POINTS: Irreparably internet damaged.

You spent 365 days valiantly digging for context through the layers of every single internet in-joke, navigating multiple tabs of Twitter pile-ons, and alienating your friends with social-media-poisoned takes. You’ve already thought of three things you believe were egregiously omitted from this list and will be posting about them.

What Did Being Online Look Like for You in 2022?