With the rise of the Internet and on-demand entertainment, many a social critic has mourned the death of the shared experience. But the wide adoption of social media has given rise to a new form of shared experience. Where coworkers once gathered at the office water cooler to discuss the latest news or prime time event, Americans are increasingly turning online, to share their thoughts about news and issues that matter to them with an even wider audience.
This weekend, Twitter took an analytical look at the issues that united users from all across the globe this past year, from the serious to the silly.
The retrospective project #YearOnTwitter catalogues at the events that gained the most attention on the site as well as the single tweet that that gained the most traction for each issue or event.
In Ireland and the US, #LoveWins and #HomeToVote celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Commemorating another impactful event, #PrayForParis became trending in the wake of the Paris attacks Nov. 13. Using the hashtag, people around the world united on Twitter to support the victims, their families, and the city of Paris.
Twitter was perhaps the most powerful outlet for the proliferation of the Black Lives Matter movement as individuals are able to voice their collective frustration over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police. This year alone, Black Lives Matter, either as a hashtag or a phrase, has been tweeted 9 million times.
On the lighter side of history, the mysterious blue-and-black or white-and-gold dress elicited a worldwide debate about its colors in February.
This Year On Twitter also records the top 10 most retweeted tweets, half of which were by members of the boy band One Direction. The No. 1 spot was nabbed by Harry Styles, who tweeted, “All the love as always H.” when his band member Zayn Malik announced he was leaving.
Also in the top 10 is Caitlyn Jenner’s introduction of her new self to the world, sparking conversation on transgender issues in the US and abroad.
“The world united this year in moments of triumph, activism, support, and fascination, and Twitter is where we gathered for all of it,” Twitter spokeswoman Alexandra Valasek wrote in a statement.
“Whether people were making a hashtag into a global movement or expressing wonder over the color of a dress, we all used Twitter this year in awe-inspiring ways.”