Like a flood of 11,000 marbles, 2015 rushed past in a noisy blur. (Eh, not quite.)
Like a dazzle of runaway zebras, 2015 clambered by in a dizzying spectacle. (Better, but no.)
Like a mysterious red button begging to be pressed, 2015 dared us to superimpose some kind of meaning on top of it, if only to preserve our withering sense of control. (Nailed it!)
It would be nice to put this year behind us stamped with some sort of tidy title or takeaway. But as indicated by my attempt last week at assembling a proper pantheon of the year's Internet antiheroes, this was a year rife with tension and division. And while those grand polarities that pull us apart suggest a society split into clean factions, the thousands of bit players offered up by the Internet granted us a clearer view of what a complete mess we are right now.
For starters, there was the woman who live-streamed her DUI on Periscope, and another caught driving drunk on vanilla. There was the boy stuck in a claw machine, and the man who attempted congress with a mailbox (update: R.I.P.). There was woman who sued her 12-year-old nephew for a hug gone wrong, and the Nebraskan woman who tried suing . . . gays. (As in all of them.) There was the naked cowboy roaming the snowy highway, the squabbling moms of the Beech Grove Wal-Mart, the backflipping groom who kicked his bride in the head. . .
I've got more! There was the lady who shot at a McDonald's (once) because they forgot the bacon (twice). The man who pulled a knife when denied pie at Waffle House. And, of course, there was the very drunk UConn student who pitched the NSFW Fit of the Year (hey, there's still time) when refused his desired helping of jalapeno mac and cheese. There was also pretty much every news item to come out of Florida.
Oh, and at peak crazy, a bunch of people lined up at the Burren in July, convinced U2 would play a secret show for them. Come on.
The kids, too, were clearly not all right. When they weren't inflating their lips with shot glasses (#KylieJennerChallenge), or dropping water-filled condoms on each other's heads (#CondomChallenge), or leaping from their windows into blizzards (#BostonBlizzardChallenge), or summoning ancient demons with pencils (#CharlieCharlieChallenge), they were Netflix-and-chilling. (Click that, Dads. Sorry to blow your cover there, kids.)
Even the online animal kingdom seemed a little off this year. There were the aformentioned zebras storming the streets of Brussels (and their counterpart fugitive llamas terrorizing Sun City); there was the super-jacked Kangaroo and the culinarily daring rats and squirrels of New York City; there was the unwittingly dastardly beaver that left 3,000 people powerless, and the unwittingly heroic alligator that peed all over "Fox & Friends."
As presidential politics, social injustice, and international terrorism rocked the real world, so too was the vast realm of the trivial swept with change. This year saw the (near-)death of SkyMall and the (still)birth of Tidal. The return of "Bloom County" and the departure of Zayn. The rise of the taco emoji and the fall of Madonna (she fell; she's fine). It also saw Drake dancing very oddly and Shia LaBeouf acting very strangely — so maybe things aren't so upside-down after all.
Rifling through the vast Internet junk drawer of 2015, it might seem hard to decide what to salvage as a souvenir: The distressing black-bunned Halloween Whopper? The compilation of cats terrified by cucumbers? That gross New York Times recipe for guacamole with peas? But if we're looking for one item that's a perfect fit for 2015, a little white and gold number comes immediately to mind.
Or was it blue and black? It doesn't really matter (even though it's the latter). When "the dress" first emerged back in Februrary via a Tumblr post by a girl confounded by its true color, the Internet joined in the confusion. The Internet found itself torn at the seams into quarreling camps — #Teamblueandblack and #Teamwhiteandgold — deeply debating everything from optics to objective reality, and coming away with nothing more firm than doubt in the grand myth of consensus.
It may have seemed like a pointless distraction at the time, but in hindsight, the dress, 2015's Thing of the Year, gave us crucial training in that great American exercise: agreeing to disagree.
Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at email@example.com.