2021 Year in review

It’s a nice tagline that we lived hard in 2021: The frontline of online. From Telegram to TikTok, the Daily Dot staff spent the past year deep-scrolling for stories. Not gawk-worthy, WTF videos or tweets about Succession or mainstream narratives where the web angle is secondary and just that a lot of people are simultaneously discussing Pete Davidson in the comments—stories. Stories rooted in internet culture and that run on information that is consequential + the unhinged actions of messy humans. It’s like my old editor would always say: Trend pieces are boring and hard to prove. But a TikTok about fresh fries at McDonald’s? As we say in this business: That’s a thing. Let’s reach out to the TikToker who posted the clip at McDonald’s about fresh fries and then get McDonald’s HQ to answer for its so-called fresh fries.

Yes, we’ve been accused by readers of giving air to frivolous developments on the internet by dedicating reporting resources to them. Truth is, at the Dot, we don’t believe that we have the luxury to ignore the Island Boys. Or the Couch Guy. Or the Shrimp Cereal guy. Or the Starbucks employee who rings the alarm. Or the DoorDash driver who has a compelling reason for hating it when you order directly to your apartment. Or much worse, the company that elected officials keep.

It’s not our position to write off the Proud Boys’ paramilitary cosplay, to write off these undercurrents of discontent as aggrieved nonsense that should not be understood. Remember: Everything can seem ridiculous and stupid until the Q Shaman storms the Capitol. (My resolution for the new year? Fewer tears of hopelessness.)

Welcome to the Daily Dot’s year-in-review coverage! We hope you enjoy this overview of the year we spent online. Oh no. Our table. It’s broken
—Ramon Ramirez


Viral sagas of labor telling its story, with messy, by-any-means social urgency, defined the IRL section in 2021.


This year, TikTok still ruled internet culture—especially with every hit song becoming an audio clip on the app. We also found other apps to spend our time on, like the film-logging Letterboxd. Call-outs and cancellations on every social platform only increased. And we continued to decompress by watching hours of new content on one of the many streaming services.


The times are changing in the tech world. From disdain to platforms, to splintered communications, to a rising tide that wants to fight back in ways both old and new; 2021 will be remembered as the year our relationship with technology fractured and opposition to big tech went mainstream.

The Daily Dot
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