Behold these masters in the craft of publicly humiliation.
When my editor asked me to compile a list of "the best self-owns in history," I immediately got to work researching the Blackberry Storm, the Motorola Rokr, the Nokia N-Gage.
I was excited to show her all the info I had found on these classic cell phones, but she wasn't pleased. "Not cell phones, you moron, you worthless cretin, 'self-owns,'" Do you need me to spell that out for you, or would you like to demonstrate a basic level of competency?"
After she spelled it out for me — and I suggested that she withhold my paycheck (again) as recompense — I did a little digging and discovered that a "self-own" is in fact an act of public humiliation in which one makes oneself into an object of mockery. Rather than being "owned" by another person's ridicule, you do the work for them by unwittingly casting yourself in an embarrassing light.
This isn't someone caught on a hidden camera or a leaked phone call. Like the kid in grade school who always dropped his pants at the urinal, these people don't even seem to realize they are proudly, publicly showing their asses.
One Scaramucci left for Trump.— Anthony Scaramucci (@Anthony Scaramucci) 1610196185.0
While this can be done intentionally — like Anthony Scaramucci using his own name as a unit of time — there really is nothing quite like watching someone honestly, obliviously stumble into making a complete fool of themselves. These are some of the greatest moments of that particular brand of schadenfreude in recorded history (AKA the last few years of Internet culture).
Women Hate Sex (With Brad Anderson)
rip @andybradhv, who was suspended for telling on himself https://t.co/vTiOdIPZjS— hannah gais (@hannah gais) 1557780573.0
One of the classic self-owns involves sharing assumptions about the world that accidentally reveal the sad details of your private life. Maybe you're just trying to make a common observation, like how dental hygienists never make conversation and always seem to be holding their breath. It doesn't even occur to you that you're actually just telling on yourself — that the inside of your mouth smells like stale coffee and farts.
That's what happened to a Twitter user who went by Brad Anderson back in 2019. He was responding to writer Lara Witt, who was pointing out that Alyssa Milano's proposed sex strike — in protest of strict abortion restrictions — framed hetero sex as being for the benefit of men, ignoring the reality of women as "enthusiastic participants." This was apparently not a reality that "Brad Anderson" was familiar with...
After the dust had settled and the appropriate jokes had been made, the entire Twitter account was deleted, giving rise to speculation that the opinions espoused may not have been sincere. But "Brad Anderson" had defenders — comrades in arms — on that fateful day, and some of their equally cringey tweets remain.
Ben Shapiro's Existential Crisis
@benshapiro nobody's forcing you— Shaun (@Shaun) 1574725830.0
No list of people making themselves look stupid online would be complete without at least one appearance from the Internet's golden boy of "destroying liberals with facts and logic." Unfortunately for Ben, now and then a wily opponent or a shiny surface deflects that destructive logic-death-stare back at "the cool kid's philosopher," rendering him owned by his own facts.
That's what happened back in 2019 when Shapiro tried to accuse someone else — UK Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn — of being a useless person with garbage ideas who had done nothing with his life but criticize the people actually working to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, Ben didn't seem to realize that he was looking in the mirror at the time.
Jacob Wohl's Playground Detective Agency
Back in 2018, the world was waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, Russian interference in the election, as well efforts to obstruct investigations into the matter. But one man was not satisfied to just wait.
Jacob Wohl of "hipster coffee shop" fame is an up-and-coming career criminal who has engaged in securities fraud and illegal voter suppression. He has also repeatedly teamed up with conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman in attempts to fabricate sex scandals involving public figures from Pete Buttigieg to Dr. Anthony Fauci. But none of these efforts have failed quite as spectacularly as their preemptive attempt to discredit Robert Mueller.
In an effort to make their "investigation" into Mueller seem more legitimate, Burkman and Wohl enlisted the help of the impartial investigators at Surefire Intelligence. The only problem was that Surefire Intelligence apparently employed a team comprised of models, Oscar-winning actor Cristoph Waltz, and Wohl himself, all working under assumed identities. And the company's phone number forwarded to Wohl's mother...
Like the off-brand version of Project Veritas' James O'Keefe, Wohl had attempted to pull off a half-assed scam targeting people who actually know what they're doing and ended up spectacularly owning himself in the process.
Ann Coulter Is Sad
We singles live empty lives of quiet desperation and will die alone. Now Rubio is demanding that we also fund happy… https://t.co/cVSg02o1UQ— Ann Coulter (@Ann Coulter) 1513356341.0
Are you single? Does that mean you live in quiet desperation, with nothing to look forward to but dying alone? No? Oh, good! Because if that was you, your only choice would apparently be to use your misery for political points toward your preconceived agenda, while essentially revealing to the world why you're such a hateful, bigoted creep, actively working to promote ruthless greed and division.
Truly, misery loves company. Unfortunately for Ann Coulter, company is not a fan of her, so she can still look forward to dying alone.
Rudy Giuliani Wants to Know What We Think of Him
"Do you think we're stupid? Do you think we're fools?" —Rudy Giuliani in Philadelphia, discussing the PA vote.… https://t.co/ysAw3i9Boj— The Recount (@The Recount) 1604526972.0
Do we think Rudy Giuliani is stupid? The man who was has repeatedly incriminated his client on live TV. The man who starred in the dramatic climax of Borat 2. Do we think he's a fool?
At the time he was expressing incredulity about the very predictable outcome of his boss's opposition to mail-in voting. But if that wasn't enough of a self-own at the time, the cherry arrived on top just a few days later, when Giuliani arranged to give a press conference at Philadelphia's prestigious Four Seasons...Total Landscaping.
Shell's Climate Dodge
I’m willing to hold you accountable for lying about climate change for 30 years when you secretly knew the entire t… https://t.co/0gwuy5P9h5— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1604335470.0
If you were a fossil fuel company who had spent decades hiding the reality of climate change for personal profit, would you ask the general public what they are willing to do to clean up your mess? You wouldn't? Because that's like Ted Bundy asking college students what they're doing to prevent violent crime on campus? Fair enough.
Kaitlin Bennett's Entire "Career"
Kaitlin Bennett is probably better known as the Kent State gun girl. She's so passionate about her second amendment rights that she wore an assault rifle for her graduation photos on the Kent State campus — that site where anti-war protesters were famously shot dead by National Guard troops in 1970.
That desperate plea for attention helped Bennett launch a successful career as an assh**e who goes on college campuses to mock and harass students. Working with the "conservative," holocaust-denying, pro-totalitarian-monarchy group ironically named Liberty Hangout, she does her best to "trigger" libs by insulting them, dressing up like racial stereotypes, and reminding them that she has the power to kill them if they get mad — "You know that I carry, right?"
But rumor has it that Kaitlin was famous on the campus of Kent State long before she started these antics — for reportedly losing control of her bowels at a frat party. The weirdest thing about Kaitlin Bennett is that, rather than cutting out segments when people make fun of her for this, she shares them with the world.
In this infamous case, she attempted to turn it around on her accuser with some homophobic slander — which didn't quite stick, because she was the only homophobe in the situation.
Ben Shapiro's WAP Meltdown
“i’ve had sex TWICE and i made her PROVE they were mine!” https://t.co/TUs7NTJw7A— 𝗞𝗮𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗼𝘆𝗰𝗲 (@𝗞𝗮𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗼𝘆𝗰𝗲) 1598332680.0
Oh look! It's Ben Shapiro again! This time it's from the peak of his his self-ownery, in the summer of 2020, when his response to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's hit song WAP was to diagnose them with a medical condition — referencing his "doctor wife" as his source of expertise.
People were quick to point out that Shapiro's comments sounded a lot like someone who may not provide his wife a lot of experience in this area — someone more likely to inspire a DAP than a WAP, for instance. But, as much sense as that makes to anyone who has heard Ben Shapiro speak, he was quick to defend himself — pointing out that both of his children had been paternity tested...
Because that's not weird or anything.
Lin Wood's Perjury Typo
In an effort to enter the Bar Association’s Self-Own Hall of Fame, Lin Wood files Georgia election fraud complaint… https://t.co/VGLW2YwyDx— Nate Persily (@Nate Persily) 1608388810.0
Sometimes a self-own is as simple as a few misplaced letters. Amid a slew of flimsy "election fraud" cases built on hearsay and dubious testimony in December, Trump-connected lawyer Lin Wood submitted legal paperwork in Georgia which he verified "under plenty of perjury."
It's clear that the document was supposed to say "under penalty of perjury." But, considering the fact that a Delaware judge recently determined that Wood's track record of "prevarication and surprising incompetence" indicated that he was not "of sufficient character" to practice law in that state, the typo might be more accurate.
Rioters Live Streaming
"Derrick Evans is in the Capitol."
Those are the words — spoken in third-person, just to make it that much more obvious — of a man who did not expect to face any consequences for storming a federal building in order to disrupt the democratic process. Fortunately, Derrick Evans was wrong, and Derrick Evans was arrested days later at his Huntington, West Virginia home.
Evans, a one-time West Virginia lawmaker who has since resigned from his post, is just one of the many rioters who documented history for all of us by sharing their January 6th activities on social media. They most likely thought they were recording a courageous act, preventing "the deep state" from "stealing" the election.
Perhaps if they were not so thoroughly misled by the president's lies and social media misinformation they would have realized that what they were actually documenting was an act of terroristic sedition. Whoops. These people are now subjects in an ongoing FBI investigation.
Talk about telling on yourself.
Trump Criticizing Trump
There may be no more prolific practitioner in the art of the self-own than soon-tobe-former-president Donald J. Trump. In fact, there's a whole subreddit devoted to all the times that Trump Criticizes Trump.
His history as a professional contrarian has frequently been turned against him, as when he criticized President Obama for golfing too much, or asked if a president can be impeached "for gross incompetence" (yes, twice actually). But since his recent removal from Twitter and Facebook for inciting a violent terrorist attack, this 2017 tweet on the topic of online terrorist recruitment seems particularly choice.
The People Who Lost Followers Post-Riot
And one final bit of self-owning fallout from the Capitol Hill insurrection. With the crackdown on far-right conspiracists and hate speech on social media, a lot of far-right pundits have been correctly focused on the real victims of that terrifying day — themselves.
As people who apparently keep a religious watch on their follower counts, they noticed that — as soon as Twitter started purging people who spread unhinged conspiracies and promote violence — they started losing followers by the thousands. Rather than taking that as a sign to question what type of audience they're cultivating, they decided to tell the world how much they were being hurt by this baseline effort to push back against far-right terrorism.
Pretty cringe, guys.