2017 was a tough time to be deeply online, a year when it felt like the worst parts of the Internet muscled their way into our lives.
But the Internet was also scattered with moments of joy this year, as hard as it might be to believe it. Below, a handful of Washington Post staffers have selected examples of those things, presented in no particular order.
The BBC dad
This Skype news interview really does have it all: Korean politics, adorable siblings, a panicked mother and a stunned professor live on air.
Two delightful children crashed their dad’s live television interview and for a short while, the entire world laughed. The interview was watched by millions. Many viewed and shared the footage again and again — each time noticing another hysterical gem, another moment of sheer glee. This was A+ 2017 footage that should never be forgotten.
In the clip, Robert Kelly’s daughter can be seen flinging his office door back. She then saunters in, doing a little dance. In her hand she clutches a pen — ready to get to work. It’s fair to say Marion’s impeccable swagger did not go unnoticed. Was it the bright yellow jumper? The adorable glasses? The bunched hair? Those dance moves? It may have been all of these fabulous things, because the Internet quickly fell in love with Kelly’s daughter.
Sassy Marion was closely followed by her inquisitive baby brother. Eight-month-old James can be seen in the background sliding around in his walker. As James and Marion do their own sweet thing behind him, Kelly does his best to continue the interview despite the chaos unraveling around him.
It’s not long before Kelly’s wife slides across the wooden floor and into the room, like something straight out of “Dancing With the Stars.” All Kelly can do is utter the word “sorry” and close his eyes as he waits patiently for his flustered wife to round up their naughty offspring.
Described by Kelly as a “comedy” of errors, the entertaining video serves as an important reminder for those of us working from home: Don’t forget to lock the office door.
— Jennifer Hassan
Of all the emotional roller coasters of 2017, I most appreciated “Slippery Stairs,” a clip from a Japanese variety show that went viral in November.
Like many people, I was first alerted to the magic when I saw a tweet from writer Juan Buis, who posted a two-minute video and asked why the game show “hasn’t made its way to our part of the world yet.” Retweeted more than 228,000 times, the clip features six people — each wearing a brightly colored unitard — and, as the self-explanatory title suggests, climbing a set of very, very slippery stairs.
The idea is so simple, yet it’s riveting, confusing and heartbreaking, as the contestants slowly (sloooowly) try to navigate the staircase. If one person slips and tumbles to the bottom, they’ll likely knock out at least one other person behind then. It’s probably a metaphor about humanity and life, but mostly it’s just pretty entertaining to see people fall down stairs — wearing helmets, of course.
Naturally, U.S. publications became obsessed. GQ: “The Game Show ‘Slippery Stairs’ Is Humanity’s Greatest Creation.” HuffPost: “Slippery Stairs Is The Japanese Game Show The World Never Knew It Needed.” USA Today: “A game show’s ‘slippery stairs’ contest is the sport we need to bring to the U.S.”
The Japan Times, however, cleared up some facts: Though the clip was recently uploaded to YouTube for reasons unknown, it’s actually a segment from the 2016 episode of the variety show “All-Star Kanshasai.”
“No aspect of Japanese pop culture titillates the world more than the country’s game shows,” reporter Patrick St. Michel wrote, explaining that the “Slippery Stairs” competition (an incorrect translation from its actual name) wasn’t actually a full show. “And yet, it was the first time ‘wacky Japanese game show’ footage . . . went viral in the context-allergic atmosphere of the internet in 2017, showing just how much misinformation can spread.”
— Emily Yahr
At first glance, r/ChangeMyView sounds like one of those sweet, nerdy, naive endeavors bound for the trash heap of the Internet.
Created five years ago by a teenager, the subreddit is designed around forcing polite debate online. You start a thread by making some provocative statement — such as calling a major religious figure a terrible person or arguing that a term widely considered to be offensive actually isn’t — and challenging anyone to change your mind. If someone does, you admit you were wrong and award the person a symbolic trophy called a “delta,” which they append to their username as a point of prestige.
And somehow, for some reason, it actually works. The threads cited above resulted in one poster admitting a word was a slur, and the other resolving to read a holy text.
Far from turning into a niche forum, Change My View now boasts half a million subscribers, and this year it’s been the subject of studies at Columbia University and the Georgia Institute for Technology, as academics try to figure out its secret.
Shagun Jhaver’s team at Georgia Tech, for example, has been interviewing the subreddit’s participants, trying to understand what makes them capable of such civility in 2017.
“The political climate in the United States is very polarized. People tend to stick to their opinions,” he told The Washington Post. “We wanted to understand what motivates users to be civil to one another.”
Ultimately, they want to understand how to replicate Change My Views formula across the wider Internet — an antidote to the garbage-fire fights that proliferate across Facebook and Twitter.
— Avi Selk
“Dream Daddy” is a video game developed by YouTube stars that plays on the “daddy kink” Internet joke, inviting players to be a man who dates queer or transgender men. What could go wrong?
Apparently nothing. Just about everything went right for “Dream Daddy,” a dating simulator that earnestly explores fatherhood and male-gendered relationships. Comedy team Game Grumps understood that the “dad you’d like to sleep with” joke could only take you so far, and decided to craft a loving and gentle game about being a good father to your daughter in a broken, grieving family.
The transgender community was completely (and pleasantly) surprised at the inclusivity of the game. There were no jokes made at their expense, and the game offered body-binder options for creating your dad character.
While the Star Wars fandom has returned to quarrelsome, hostile arguments about “The Last Jedi,” a video game made by YouTube stars (who haven’t had their best year either) walked a veritable minefield of social and identity issues, but managed to cause little offense and created an appreciative fandom that (except for one brief instance) had a lot of fun celebrating the game’s characters and heartwarming tales of love and family.
— Gene Park
A Knife! is a 4-second video of a child revealing to a worried adult that he is, in fact, running around with A Knife!
A Knife! is also perfect.
I watched A Knife! countless times as I interviewed the entire Knife Fam for a story about what happened back in September, and it is on repeat in the background as I write this ode to A Knif!e in December.
A Knife! works because it is short, surprising and the comedic timing is perfect. In just a few seconds, an entire story is told. A child, running, is clearly getting away with something. A concerned adult tries to find out what it is. It is A Knife! and Knife Kid runs away from this revelation with a face of pure glee.
A Knife! filled me with joy, and I don’t care if it didn’t do the same for you. After the year we’ve had, the Internet owes it to me to let me enjoy this in peace.
— Abby Ohlheiser