How was your 2016? If you were on the internet, it was probably awful. But don’t tell that to YouTube, who released their annual Rewind video today, an exhausting, seven-minute odyssey through a Black Mirror-esque universe in which everyone is a viral star preening for your approval. PewDiePie, the “Damn Daniel” kid, Trevor Noah, and dozens of preteens with elaborate hair are present, as well as actual famous person The Rock, who maybe needs to be a little more selective. Or maybe doesn’t, since this thing already has 34 million—[Reloads page.]—45 million views.
Its endless exuberance has the feel of a cellphone commercial programmatically created by Google’s page-rank algorithm. It will do very well.
As New York notes in a caustic summary of the video, many of the participants and trends spotlighted in the video actually owe their virality to Twitter, although that doesn’t necessarily point toward YouTube’s obsolescence so much as Twitter’s stubborn unwillingness to become obsolete. Anyway, if one were to look for a year in review of Twitter itself, they would probably see an anime character calling a dumpster fire a cuck, so perhaps we can take YouTube’s Rewind video instead as a look at the more innocuous, commercial-friendly year on the internet, as determined by one of its more innocuous, commercial-friendly giants.
Facebook, meanwhile, has released its Year In Review video feature, which creates a bespoke compendium of each user’s most-liked posts, among other algorithmically created memories, all set to the sound of jaunty pianos. Hey, look, there’s that burrito you ate! And that time you held a baby! Oh, friendship!
Accordingly, everybody hates it. Mashable’s open letter to the video begins, “No one wants you.” The article links to about a dozen comments (mostly on Twitter) of people decrying the feature’s very existence. Here is one that is pretty much all of them:
While not an official Instagram application, 2016best9 is doing something a little more straightforward—compiling each user’s nine most-liked photos into a grid—which has somehow thus far escaped the performative excoriation of the end of the year on the internet. It’s an interesting case in point: As the version of internet culture represented by the Rewind video grows increasingly monolithic and oversaturated, the version of it represented by Twitter grows increasingly reactive. Instagram, which is a lot more insular, remains blissfully calm by comparison.
Perhaps because it is not an official application, 2016best9 also lets you sort for the best of the year for other people. Here is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s year in review:
He, at least, had a great year.