There once was a tradition in journalism in which a writer had the power to deem himself the Great Arbiter and publish definitive rankings of people, places and events. The headline formula went something like this:
[Arbitrary Number] [Superlative] [Plural] of [Current Year]
Then Buzzfeed came along and ruined the listicle format for everyone. If a post doesn't have 40 animated gifs, as the newsprint version of this column obviously doesn't, how can it compete? My solution: a heaping pile of sarcasm and no shame.
These are what I noted as the biggest fails on the Internet this year, defined as major backfires or anything just totally lame that primarily occurred online. Although my methodology amounts to little more than scribbling notes between rounds of Assassin's Creed IV, this list is official and exhaustive, because I said so, and my arrogance knows no limit:
10. Google Reader shuts down: Hi, my name is Google, and I had a product that everyone loved and relied upon to keep them informed about the world around them. I discontinued the service in June, because I don't care about you.
9. People who fell for Jimmy Kimmel's Worst Twerk Fail video: Hi, I'm everybody on the Internet, and I've never heard of the word "skepticism." I automatically share anything I see on Facebook, even if it looks too perfect to be real, then I complain that it's someone else's fault for undermining trust on the Internet.
8. Manti Te'o's hoax girlfriend: Hi, I'm Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, and I'm a creepy, creepy dude who thought I wouldn't get caught if I posed as a young woman with leukemia, seduced a famous linebacker, then pretended I died in a car accident.
7. Justine Sacco's racist tweet: Hi, I'm a corporate PR professional who tweeted a racist joke about AIDS before getting on a plane to Africa. Then I was totally shocked when I landed to discover I was out of a job and the Internet hates me. I'll spend the next year apologizing to every single person on Twitter.
6. AngelHack CEO's rant on the homeless: Hi, I'm Greg Gopman, and, as a tech entrepreneur, I'd feel a lot better if the homeless and mentally ill kept to the shitty parts of town, rather than impact my walks in downtown San Francisco. What's even better is that I didn't see anything wrong with ranting about this on Facebook. I've since apologized, but, you know, I secretly still think they smell.
5. Anthony Weiner: Hi, I'm Carlos Danger, and I so enjoyed leaving Congress after getting caught sending gross pictures to women online that I decided to put my family through it again with a run for mayor of New York. Can you do me a solid and hard-delete this top-10 list?
4. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Hi! Iím Rob Ford, and I smoke crack! I also try to hire hackers to cover it up and get caught on all counts. You can eat me.
3. Reddit: Hi, I'm the self-proclaimed "front page of the Internet," which means I'm an amateur-sleuth clusterfuck. I've totally forgotten that I mistakenly told the world that Sunil Tripathi, a suicidal Brown University student, was one of the Boston bombers.
2. National Security Agency: Hi, Iím General Keith Alexander*, and I can't yell loud enough about how Edward Snowden irrevocably damaged our national security, and, yet, I don't really think any heads should roll for creating an intelligence infrastructure that could be totally undermined by one computer nerd.
1. Healthcare.gov: Hi, I'm Kathleen Sebelius and I had one job to do: make a website to fulfill President Obama's promise for affordable healthcare. I'm never going to be able to run for president.
* Full disclosure: My day job (that is, the author's) is at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA over its mass telephone-records-collection program.