It doesn't take much to understand the updog joke — I probably learned it in about first grade or so — but its beauty and power is in its simplicity. Updog is a little mean-spirited, sure! A friend had an opportunity to interview Kim Kardashian, considered updogging her, and decided not to; it would have been too mean to her, he said. But as mean-spirited jokes go, I find updog to be pretty gentle, particularly since pretty much every native English speaker has heard (and forgotten) it at some point.
I can't speak for anyone but me, but this year sometimes just felt like a dumpster on fire in the middle of recently napalmed landfill. We all did our best to find silliness where we could. I suspect this year's circumstances — both personal and national — led me to reach for a very simple source of joy that had lain dormant in some corner of my brain for 25 years or so. The updog was back.
feel like what we could all use is a healing regime of updog— Elizabeth Lopatto (@mslopatto) December 13, 2014
And it wasn't just me. DARPA's experimental troll intelligence project Katie Notopoulos put together her favorite updogs of the year, but as with all year-end lists, it's sadly incomplete. It is, however, worth noting that Notopoulos is a remarkably able updogger herself:
But neither of these were my favorite updogs in 2014. This was:
I’m the world’s biggest idiot: I just googled "whats updog"— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) December 19, 2014
This is a perfect execution, in part because it fits so well with Farhad's #personal #brand: the loveable perma-naif, stumbling through the world of tech bros and media hoaxers. Of course Farhad would be updogged sooner or later. If anyone is going to be on the receiving end of updog, it's Farhad. And it nicely removes any kind of meanness from the joke, since Farhad himself is the butt of it.
In the mean-spirited category of updog, there's this lovely abstract expressionist execution from — of all places — the PR world. Ed Zitron updogged someone in on the joke and still somehow managed to pull it off. This is what you hire public relations for, my friends.
I'm not sure how best to explain Mallory Ortberg of The Toast, so I'm just going to link to her Verge 50 profile. As one might expect, when you run a feminist blog, there are trolls; for this reason, The Toast's comment section is heavily pre-moderated. On Sunday night, a man emailed Mallory, asking why his racist comment wasn't being posted. So Mallory, may all the cats bless her, emailed him "It's probably a weird error" and encouraged him to spend more time writing comments, while setting him to perma-delete. That's pretty much all the background you need for this beautiful thing:
all right god, you son of a bitch ive never asked you for anything. but im asking now if you let me updog this fuckin guy i fuckin swear— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) December 23, 2014
There's been no word, as of this writing, whether the attempted updog was successful. I understand there will be updates posting to this exciting new social network, Updog.pw, which seems like a prime opportunity for VC funding.
As for me, I'm watching to see what's hot for 2015, and there's an exciting new contender: the little-known diquefore. What's a diquefore? Exactly.