This year was a difficult one for the concept we refer to as “the line.” Plenty of people, platforms, and memes, managed to cross it, often without realizing — or admitting they’d realized — the line was ever there.
YouTube’s enfant terrible, Logan Paul, rang in the new year crossing the line when he published his vlog of a trip to Japan’s so-called Suicide Forest, stumbling across an apparent suicide victim. It wasn’t until Paul uploaded a video a month later in which he tasered a dead rat that YouTube thought the line had been crossed far enough for ad revenue to be disabled on his videos — though just temporarily. The whole experience forced Paul to look inward and realize that the only true path to redemption was obvious: a pay-per-view boxing match between himself and another YouTuber.
Tide Pods began their year as a laundry product, but within a week, the Tide Pod Challenge had launched a thousand explainers, and morphed into just another reason for baby boomers to write off an entire generation.
Tech platforms wrestled with where to draw the line all year when it came to policing content, as seen in the case of Alex Jones. It took Apple deleting five podcasts connected with Alex Jones from its iTunes store for Facebook to finally act, deleting four of his pages, with Twitter following with its ban soon after.
So as the year wraps up, here’s our attempt at cataloguing all the lines crossed this year. And here’s to the new year, full of hope and possibility — and so, so many lines, yet-to-be-crossed.
This segment originally aired Dec. 20, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.