Whether you’ve had an amazing year or you’re counting the seconds to a fresh start in 2017, you can’t deny that 2016 has been one eventful trip around the sun. Social media has never been more abuzz with news and debate, and the Internet has been all a-twitter with elections, referendums, landmark sporting events and the passing of beloved celebrities. There have been giant losses and spectacular wins, all reflected in surges of Twitter activity. Here’s our definitive list of the year’s top 10 Twitter trends.
- David Bowie
The year began on a sad note, as the musical legend, actor and all-around Starman David Bowie left this planet on the 10th January, passing away from liver cancer in his apartment in New York City. Thousands upon thousands of fans and admirers took to Twitter to express their grief and their gratitude for Bowie’s artistic contributions to the world. The hashtag (if you’re still a novice, that’s quick Twitter search function tweeters use to mark their posts) #RIPDavidBowie is a true testament to his achievements.
- Euro 2016
With 51 matches played, 108 goals in total, some fan fracases and surprising performances from new and old talent, Euro 2016 was a major talking point on and offline. We’ve done our own reflecting on the highs and lows of the Championship, but Twitter users certainly had a lot to say as well. UK Twitter activity saw a huge spike, as you might expect, following England’s 2-1 loss to Iceland. And tweeters worldwide had to admire every one of French rising star Antoine Griezman’s six goals.
The question was simple: should we stay or should we go? The answer was a little more complicated, and the Twitter conversation it sparked was heated. Though just under 52% of Brits voted in favour of the UK leaving the European Union in the Referendum on 23rd June, many of the remaining 48% were staggered, and the majority of them took to Twitter to vent their frustration. And the conversation continues, as politicians contemplate how and when to trigger Article 50, and the future of the UK in the aftermath.
- Donald Trump
If you thought Brexit was contentious, the American reboot was something to boggle at. You may be reeling or rejoicing in the wake of the US Election, and it’s certain that President Elect Trump is doing the latter. Millions tweeted to express their hope, fear and despair during the tense presidential debates, the polls in the run-up to Election Day, and as the astonishing results rolled in. Trump himself is a much-followed and controversial Twitter user, and despite attempts to reign in his tweeting, he had plenty to say about the race himself.
- Pokémon Go
The television cartoon Pokémon has been running since 1997, and the franchise received a revitalising shot in the arm in early June this year with the release of the wildly popular Android and iOS app Pokémon Go. Its augmented reality gameplay captured the hearts and imaginations of users all over the globe. Die-hard fans and brand new enthusiasts were out on the streets in droves, tracking and ‘catching’ virtual pocket monsters that appeared on their phone screens as though they were part of the real world environment. Users tweeted to share tips and tricks and celebrate the capture of rare breeds.
- The Rio Olympics
This August, while some were training to become Pokémon Masters, years of serious athletic training came to fruition for multi-national Olympic competitors, and all eyes turned to Rio. Hosted at 34 different venues in Rio, with a focus on the Barra Cluster Olympic Park, the Games saw the hopes and dreams of some remarkable athletes fulfilled. There was much discussion on Twitter of the organizing committee's goals to hold a ‘Green Games for a Blue Planet,' and of course commentary on who grabbed Bronze, Silver, and Gold in all of the 306 events. Tweeters expressed elation but little surprise when Jamaica’s Usain Bolt took Gold for both 100 and 200 metres in Athletics, and American tweeters were proud as punch of a hat trick of Golds in Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Shot Put.
- The Oscars
On February 28th, the red carpet rolled out, and Twitter turned its attention to the glitz and glam of Hollywood, as they tuned into the 88th Academy Awards. Tweeters were applauding particularly loudly at Leonardo DiCaprio’s long-awaited chance to grip that coveted gold statuette, as he finally bagged himself a Best Actor award for his role in The Revenant. British tweeters, meanwhile, had their own countryman to congratulate in Mark Rylance, who took the trophy for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his part in Bridge of Spies.
Not satisfied with the loss of one musical legend, in the spring, 2016 robbed us of another great star. On April 21st, the musician, songwriter, and record producer Prince Rogers Nelson passed away from an accidental overdose at his home in Minnesota, and Twitter flashed back to David Bowie's passing, awash with messages of sympathy, regret and awe at Prince's achievements and influence. RIP Prince. And that’s another hashtag you might want to take a look at if you're a fan.
- Game of Thrones
Since its initial airdate in April 2011, the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones has enjoyed a rise in worldwide popularity as dramatic and spectacular as its characters and plotlines. Based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, the show, referred to by co-creator David Benioff as ‘The Sopranos in Middle-Earth,’ quickly garnered a large and loyal fan base. It also sparked its fair share of Twitter memes (i.e. Internet ‘in jokes,' for those who’ve yet to encounter them).
- Leicester City’s Premier Title victory
It wouldn’t be a Twitter trend roundup without an honourable mention of the dramatic social media reaction to Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea in May. Fans must have been poised at their laptop and smartphone keyboards, because soon after this cemented Claudio Ranieri's triumph, the UK saw the year’s second biggest spike in Twitter activity.
For a round-up of the year’s biggest Twitter trends straight from the horse’s mouth, you can also check out the hashtag #ThisHappened. We can only guess at what 2017 will bring, but whether you like to tune into politics, sport, music, art or gaming, we’re willing to bet that there’ll be plenty to tweet about.