The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How America is distracting itself online: Christmas videos, a celebrity puppy, hexagons and more

More than 3 million people liked an Instagram post on Election Day showing a new puppy owned by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

This is a very Unserious story on a very Serious day. But, look, regardless of who you want to win the election, you can’t doomscroll Twitter and Facebook or doomwatch CNN and Fox News forever. Everyone needs a break.

After a long election night (which followed a long Election Day, which followed a long election season), votes are still being tallied in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Given the likelihood that we’ll see recounts, there’s no telling how long this could stretch on. And, boy, could we use some diversions.

One of the nicest aspects of the Internet is its endless buffet of distractions to enjoy while anxiously awaiting to learn how 2020 will end. Here are the ways people are occupying their minds online.

Celebrating Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s new puppy, Tarzan

View this post on Instagram

Hi Tarzan 🥺❤️

A post shared by Shawn Mendes (@shawnmendes) on

It’s basically a mathematical axiom by this point. Celebrity couple + new puppy = soothing balm.

The romance between the two singer-songwriters was already a joyful antidote to a not-so-joyful year. So it makes sense that more than 3 million people liked an Instagram post Mendes made on election night showing the couple and Tarzan, their new golden pup. In one video, Cabello holds the squirming puppy as he tries exploring the back seat of a car driven by Mendes. In the next, Tarzan bops the camera with his wet snout, while Cabello can be overheard saying, “He loves himself. That’s a good sign.”

Tarzan isn’t even the only dog helping people survive the election. Over on Twitter, hundreds are wishing Teddy, a Very Good Boy, a happy birthday — making the pup one of the few trending topics that don’t include the names Biden or Trump.

Listening to “Baby Shark” a frightening amount

Surely you remember the children’s song that somehow wormed its way into the ear of every living adult. You probably thought the strange phenomenon ended about the time it became the anthem of the Washington Nationals’ 2019 season, which concluded with a World Series win.

You would be wrong.

Very wrong.

Very, very wrong.

So many people are still listening to the song that, on election night eve, its music video became the most watched clip in YouTube history, with more than 7.06 billion views, narrowing out Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” which has 7.04 billion.

Some of those are parents keeping their kids occupied, and surely a few Nationals fans are tossing it on to bathe in nostalgia and ignore everything else happening in D.C.

But, strangely, one viewer is from the outraged marine biology community.

“In honor of ‘Baby Shark’ becoming the most-viewed YouTube video of all time, please enjoy my 2018 rant on how the dance moves in the song do not accurately reflect ontogenetic shifts in gape (grandma shark would have the biggest mouth y’all),” tweeted marine biologist and science writer David Shiffman, linking to a story that does just that.

Commiserating about stress eating

Given the thousands of tweets about “stress eating,” many people are finding said break in foodstuff.

“About to start eating my third dinner entree. Not dealing with any stress at all,” tweeted comedian Jim Gaffigan. “Honored to compete in the stress-eating olympics today,” tweeted Pod Save America’s Tommy Vietor.

The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto offered a good suggestion: “stress eating pro-tip: you can just buy a birthday cake. they don’t check to see proof of birthday.”

Meanwhile, more than 320,000 people have watched this TikTok of a beaver (stress?) eating a piece of kale.

Hey, whatever works.

Making fake electoral maps, usually based on songs

It was inevitable that the electoral maps we’ve all been staring at for more than 24 hours would become a meme. Some people, sick of waiting for the real map to be completed, decided to make their own — basing them on pop music references.

So we have “the map if biden wins every state where taylor swift didn't have a marvellous time ruining everything,” a reference to Swift’s “Great American Dynasty,” and the self-evident “map when the president only wins the states mentioned in the hit 2009 song ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.”

Musicians and bands as wide-raging as Ludacris, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sir Mix-a-Lot, the Hold Steady, Sufjan Stevens, Boyz II Men and My Chemical Romance were all treated to their own maps.

Others, meanwhile, imagined the map as various objects — such as Iceland’s flag or America with a zit.

Celebrating … Christmas?

Meanwhile, over on TikTok, everyone’s moved on to Christmas. The hashtag #holidaytiktok has racked up more than 1.8 billion views, while the simple (and more wide-ranging) #holiday has more than 2.9 billion — most of which seem to be from this year. For the most part, this is straight, uncut, Christmas content. We’re talking DIY holiday garland videos, gift ideas for dads and more than 3.6 million videos featuring Perry Como’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” as Vox’s Rebecca Jennings first reported.

Fast forwarding to late December is certainly one way to get over election anxiety. After all, we’re fairly confident that we’ll have a president-elect by then.

Learning about hexagons. Yep, hexagons.

Yeah, we don’t really understand this, either. As the future of America hangs in the balance, this YouTube video by educational YouTuber CGP Grey about the superiority of hexagons to other shapes has become the third highest trending video on the site, after posting Tuesday. More than a million people have watched this nearly 10-minute (and, dare I say, extremely convincing) argument about the hexagon being “the bestagon."

“No shape is better to create the maximum area for the minimum wall,” the narrator explains, showing why the hexagon is superior to the circle and thus seen so much in nature.

Sure, why not?