5 defining moments from the 2014 Year on Twitter

10 Dec 2014

Footballer Lukas Podolski celebrates Germany's World Cup victory in a selfie with teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo by @Podolski10/Twitter

Twitter has dubbed 2014 ‘the year of the selfie’ in its annual retrospective of the past 12 months in tweets, but there was a lot more to set the Twittersphere aflutter.

The 2014 Year on Twitter website hosts a collection of the year’s Twitter highlights, from trending topics to popular tweets to influential perspectives.

Users are invited to explore some of the year’s most-tweeted-about subjects through the site itself and collections of tweets curated by the Twitter Media team.

Being the town square of the digital age, Twitter chatter covers a broad range of topics, from astronauts tweeting images from space, to the Spanish king’s abdication of the throne, to author JK Rowling’s love for otters.

We’ve selected five moments we think defined this year on Twitter. If you have any of your own to add, let us know – naturally – on Twitter.

1. The selfie shared around the world

It seems that a significant moment can’t pass these days without someone whipping out their smartphone for a selfie of record. According to Twitter, the term ‘selfie’ was mentioned more than 92m times on Twitter since 1 January – that’s a 500pc increase.

The term gained worldwide momentum following chat-show host Ellen DeGeneres’ famous Oscars selfie, which became the most-shared tweet ever, with more than 3m retweets. As the year progressed, more famous faces marked exceptional moments with a selfie.

2. Garthgate

Of course, a round-up of a year on Twitter has to include the controversy surrounding yours truly: Garth Brooks. His drawn-out Croke Park concert cancellations in Dublin kept Irish internet users talking for weeks on end and, unsurprisingly, #GarthBrooks topped the Twitter trends for Irish News and People.

Twitter trends in Ireland 2014

Source: Twitter

3. Bye bye, BOD

In Ireland, residents showed themselves to be a nation of TV and sport addicts with spikes in Irish Twitter traffic caused by a nail-biting GAA All Ireland football semi-final between Kerry and Mayo on 24 August and a particularly shocking episode of Love/Hate on 26 October.

More than 210,000 tweets were sent about Ireland’s rugby match against France on 15 March, which resulted in the country’s first Six Nations win since 2009. This match also marked the end of now-former Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll’s rugby career, with his final goodbye retweeted more than 39,000 times.

4. #HeForShe

Feminism was a major talking point throughout 2014, a year in which a 17-year-old girl was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning for girls’ right to an education; extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Nigeria; tweets harrassing women working in and critiquing the games industry tried to hide behind the cause of seeking ‘ethics in games journalism’; and super-celeb Beyoncé unequivocally stated her position on the matter through an MTV Video Music Awards performance.

In September, as goodwill ambassador for UN women, actress Emma Watson sparked off the #HeForShe movement, calling on men to align themselves with the cause of gender equality worldwide. The movement took off on Twitter, inspiring Twitter staff to paint the campaign hashtag on the walls of their HQ.

5. RIP Robin Williams

Peaches Geldof, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Maya Angelou, Phillip Hughes – Twitter became a memorial book at times during 2014 as condolences came in the form of tweets mourning the deaths of many well-known and well-loved people.

As the Twittersphere grieved for the loss of Robin Williams, and celebrated the beloved actor’s life on film, a broader conversation emerged around mental health that continues today. While Twitter came to terms with a comedian’s death by suicide, an important dialogue around mental health awareness opened up online.

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic