In case anyone wondered if 2020—just days old as you read this, as fresh as the blessed Baby Yoda himself—would bring with it a bright new future or the promise of dystopia, we have some news for you: As of this writing, Twitter’s top trending topics include “#WWIII” and “#WorldWarThree.” So, yeah, it’s looking like dystopia. Those are trending as Iran plans retaliatory action after the US killed an Iranian military commander in Baghdad via drone strike. Meanwhile, Australia is on fire, North Korea has declared that it will never denuclearize, and there was a mass stabbing in Paris. Also, in the US, folks are still unsure what’s going on with that whole presidential impeachment thing, so … Happy New Year? Maybe? Here’s a quick look at everything else that happened on the internet to kick off 2020.
So Much for ‘I’ll Be There For You’
What happened: The world is facing some intense issues right now, but is any one of them more pressing than the fact that Friends is not on Netflix anymore? Well, obviously yes, but some people would disagree.
What really happened: The New Year, of course, offers a perfect time for everyone to stop and reflect, to truly take stock of what’s important in life and pledge to refocus their efforts in the year ahead. You could see so many people do this midweek last week, when the talk of Twitter was that 1990s sitcom Friends was no longer available on Netflix in the US.
The show had been taken off Netflix in preparation for the May launch of Warner Bros.’ own streaming service, HBO Max, and fans have known this was coming since July last year, but nonetheless, it caused so much upset it made headlines again.
To make matters worse for some, the show remains available on Netflix outside of the US, as many pointed out.
Still, at least some people were happy, and I don’t just mean those responsible for the new cottage industry of stories explaining where the show can be found now.
Will no one treat this subject with the gravity it deserves? Can no one have a sensible take on this absolutely ridiculous situation?
OK, sure. That scans.
The takeaway: Of course, everyone is missing the real story here—did y’all know Frasier is gone?!
Trump’s New Year’s Resolution
What happened: The internet, inspired by President Trump, drilled down on what the rules are regarding New Year’s resolutions.
What really happened: Before the ball drops, it’s convention for people to make and share their New Year’s resolutions. A resolution in this sense is, as Dictionary.com defines it, “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.” According to Wikipedia, New Year’s resolutions are “a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life.”
You might be wondering why we’re telling you all this, since most people know how these things work. Well, let’s go back in time to the start of the week, and fly in our minds to the New Year’s party at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate …
You see? Everyone didn’t already know what a New Year’s resolution was! It’s safe to say that social media took some time away from its own festive revelry to digest Trump’s response.
It wasn’t just social media, of course; regular media couldn’t let it go, either. But just because the president doesn’t seem to understand a fairly well-known tradition that predates his birth doesn’t mean people shouldn’t pay attention to what the First Lady was saying.
We’d say, “look, someone had to go there,” if it wasn’t for the fact that, actually, a lot of people made similar remarks. But really, who is to say what Melania Trump said or meant? [Checks the internet and the way it works.] Oh, wait, that’s right; we had a week off and forgot for a second. Carry on, then.
The takeaway: You know who didn’t take New Year’s Day off? Chrissy Teigen.
What happened: While most would agree that simply grabbing the pope is not something that seems particularly polite, the question last week was over what the pope’s response to such a grab should be, especially when his chosen action prompted disapproval.
What really happened: As it turns out, the president of the United States wasn’t the only world leader getting himself in hot water online as 2019 became 2020. Over in Italy, Pope Francis was discovering that being the leader of the Catholic Church requires some very specific crowd-control skills.
Well, that’s certainly an unfortunate irony. Footage of the slap quickly spread across the internet (it quickly became a meme)—bringing with it no small amount of condemnation on social media.
Not everyone was upset at the pope, however.
By turning the issue into a contemporary conundrum of manners, PopeSlapGate (as we’ve just dubbed it) quickly became the “Adam Driver walks out of that Fresh Air interview” of 2020. And so early in the year! Amidst all the uproar, Pope Francis apologized.
If he did so expecting that everyone would move on after the apology, he was sadly mistaken; the apology also became a widely shared story across the media. For the most part, though, the apology went down surprisingly well.
Indeed, no less an outlet than The Washington Post suggested that he had offered up a model for how the rest of us should apologize. We’d say that this was a total win, if it didn’t coincide with a report about how Pope Francis was trying to escape a year of scandals.
The takeaway: Dunno. Maybe this?
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