This pandemic we've found most things celebrities do or say to be very, very annoying. They're annoying us when they're living it up, jetting around, and they're annoying us when they're staying home, locked down, saying things like, 'We're all in this together.'
Celebrity as we knew it is dead - or at least on ice for a while. Covid has shifted our sense of humour, our capacity for empathy has grown in some ways and atrophied in others, and in this new psychological landscape we need new heroes.
Recent weeks have spoilt us for choice. Jackie Weaver has become the patron saint of Zoom and patient women and throw-cushions. We can relate to the Jackie Weavers in a way we just can't with little North West Kardashian, or whoever's in Dubai at the moment.
The kitten looked terrified. And it had every right to be: after all, it had found itself in virtual court proceedings for the 394th district of Texas. Its eyes darted from left to right, to abject panic.
Said the judge: "I believe you have a filter on." Currently, the internet requires a main character at all times to sustain itself - and Cat Lawyer had more hilarity and pathos in 49 seconds than the whole of Netflix combined. "I don't know how to remove it," came the plaintive, horrified explanation from Cat Lawyer. "My assistant here, she's trying to, uh - but I'm prepared to go forward with it."
The video vibrates with thrilling, low-stakes mortification, the magical thinking of Cat Lawyer convincing him, in the moment, that if court would just proceed and he could just carry on as normal everyone would cease to notice the fact that he was a fluffy white kitten.
"I'm here live," said the cat, huge eyes imploring. "I'm not a cat."
"I can see that," said the judge. But he didn't see at all. Cat Lawyer is an instant classic, an image that will surely come to represent the boring lunacy of lockdown, the impossibility of doing all work from home.
This year we're all Cat Lawyers, intent on carrying on and pretending everything is fine when it really, quite clearly, very much isn't.
I like to think of TikTok as a rainforest, full of strange endemic species, lush and verdant growth, natural and good; small indigenous cultures with their own customs and languages, untouched by outsiders.
This time last year, TikTok was an uncontacted people, a place where Gen Z lived in peace, learning strange dances and modes of communication.
But we've never managed to leave a good thing alone. We see it and we want it.
Natural resources are there to be stripped, mined by large corporate interests and human greed. Culture is there to be taken and repackaged as something that can be sold back to us.
Last year, the world descended on TikTok, throwing it into confused disarray as it struggled to cope with the influx of hungry outsiders, bored old people newly locked down and desperate for diversion at any cost.
Now, corporate interests are destroying the charming and self-sustaining native population, preying on their isolated innocence; essentially, Ryanair is cat-fishing teens on TikTok.
That Ryanair even has a TikTok is enough to surprise and delight most casual observers, it seems whimsical and silly - but we should know by now that Ryanair is never whimsical. Ryanair is not in the business of delighting; it's never wanted people to like it. The fact of its existence is sinister.
In 2017 the airline's marketing operations director explained Ryanair's position thus: "We buy aircraft, we put them somewhere and then we fill them. That's all we do."
The marketing strategy at Ryanair has only ever been to be cheap. It didn't position itself as a friend, or invite you to be part of the family, or community; it didn't spend money on adverts that capitalised on the warm and fuzzy: Ryanair is for popping off to Magaluf because you can bloody well afford it.
Perhaps this is the sublime insincerity that discombobulates in the Ryanair TikTok. It has adopted the personality of a bitchy 13-year-old, tapping into some of the platform's most beloved memes, blending in almost seamlessly, speaking their language.
When one teen noticed comments had been limited on a post, they asked (with sad emoji): 'Who's been hurting you?'
The reply from sassy Ryanair came: 'not hurt. just simp levels getting too high.' (People were being too nice it was cringe.)
It's the strangest doublethink from an airline that is consistently voted the public's least favourite, with a Trustpilot rating that would make a Chinese scam fashion site say: "We've been rumbled. We need to change our name again."
But on the internet, you can be anyone you want to be. And holiday-starved masses have made it possible for Ryanair to market itself as a kind of aloof bae - when in reality, it would sell your granny just to get near you.
Indeed it did try to sell grannies in the UK recently, encouraging them to get a jab and book a holiday, contrary to all medical and legal advice. But TikTok doesn't know that.
A format that is used to share wholesome stories about how far people have come (recovering from an eating disorder, perhaps, or after a break-up or haircut) is co-opted by Ryanair to compare its 1980s small carrier with its 2021 jets. Ryanair's success, a result of ruthless business practices, becomes another teenage glow-up.
It positions itself as a plucky underdog - an irresistible narrative for the teens of TikTok, all underdogs themselves.
Ryanair, which not long ago toyed with charging people to wee, feigns hurt ignorance in the first person singular about 'when they book with another airline even tho you offer the lowest fares'.
Caption: you don't understand the pain I feel.
The guileless teens of TikTok believe Ryanair to be their peer: admiring comments say that surely the creator is a 14-year-old gay kid, and they wonder at how this person got a job. Many think that they are in on the joke with this mystery rogue intern.
After a decade of Ryanair topping lists of most-hated companies, 17-year-olds are leaving comments saying: 'Why am I developing feelings for an airline?'
This may well be the first sign of the rot setting into TikTok, an early rumble of self-cannibalisation. Ryanair's account is a late-capitalist nightmare with a baby voice, it's Michael O'Leary in a hair-bow licking a big lollipop, it's a lawyer in a kitten filter. Though it relies on it, Ryanair's account is the opposite of meme culture.
It's not surprising that Ryanair has TikTok. After all, it's free. What's surprising is that anyone's falling for it.