Today, before we woke up on the West Coast, the New York Times published their “Year in Questions“.
Without providing the answers. (Those will be in tomorrow’s edition.)
As the keeper of one of the leading curation sites about online news and trends, “What People Are Talking About Online“, we were all set to write our “Best of 2012” story today. But then we saw this set of questions and it made us rethink our hook. At first glance of the questions, we knew we already had a lot of the answers. So, with advance apology to the New York Times and quiz creator Ben Schott, we present 2012: The Year in Answers.
1. It was Pope Benedict XVI who sent his first tweet this year. In three grammatically correct sentences weighing in at a perfect 140 characters, sent from an iPad, his holiness made his online debut with this message:
“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
It was promptly retweeted a whopping 5,700 times.
2. The name of the movie that showing when James Eagan Holmes burst into a Colorado movie theater and opened fire was “The Dark Knight Rises.” Holmes killed 12 and wounded 58. This mass shooting led to an introspective review that would only return to haunt America six months later when another massacre occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Psychopaths that shoot up movie theaters, malls and schools are less likely to have a Facebook account than the rest of us.
3. Joseph Kony is the Ugandan warlord that director Jason Russell exposed on the video that begat the hashtag #Kony2012. This strange enough social media phenomenon took a turn for the weirder, when Russell, citing too much pressure from the attention of #Kony2012, allegedly exposed himself on the streets of San Diego.
4. Clint Eastwood’s “four-legged friend” at the Republican National Convention was none other than your basic conference center chair. Eastwood gave immediate rise to half dozen memes and all kinds of online mocking, including the term called “Eastwooding“. It’s code for senile old actor talking to an empty chair in which he believes sits the President of the United States who might actually give a %^&* what he thinks.
5. Graduate student Sandra Fluke was publicly insulted by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, being called a “slut” when she advocated for student health insurance plans to cover birth control. This was only part of the 2012 right-wing war on women which began when the Susan G. Komen Foundation threatened to stop funding Planned Parenthood over the erroneous belief that the organization was simply an “abortion mill”. It continued through a series of state laws that would require women considering an abortion to undergo invasive ultrasound techniques and reached full-fledged alarm when GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin (among others) doubted that rape could cause pregnancy. Fortunately, 2012 ended firmly where it began, in the 21st century. The re-election of Barack Obama reaffirmed that the nation wants to move forward for women and health care; the American Taliban is still running for cover.
6. Linsanity was not caused by troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, although if you’re not a basketball fan you can (and should) be forgiven to think so. Linsanity was the the term attached to New York Knicks’ phenom Jeremy Lin, a benchwarmer who came out of nowhere to ignite a stagnant offense last February. Linsanity was as a major trending Twitter term and may have more of a future in social media circles than on the basketball court. Before the 2011-2012 basketball season was over, Jeremy Lin required knee surgery. He attempted to capitalize on his Internet fame by holding an open Facebook chat for fans from his hospital bed, which abruptly ended when he puked while online. He starts the 2012-2013 basketball season no longer in New York, but playing for the Houston Rockets.
7. Singer Whitney Houston was 48 years old when she died of an drug overdose in a Beverly Hills hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards. The award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist had flirted with disaster for years, but her untimely death shocked her fans around the world. It was one of those stories that broke on Twitter first. Houston’s name makes one last claim to fame at the end of 2012. Her death, along with Hurricane Sandy, turns out to have been one of the most tweeted stories of the year.
8. The Chick-Fil-A fast food chain riled LGBT people and their supporters with its unbendable stance on “the biblical definition of the family unit.” The online kerfuffle between LGBT activists and the chain led to real-life boycotts and boosterism, including a Chick-Fil-A day that brought thousands of bigots forward to line up outside Chick-Fil-A’s across the land, purchasing sandwiches and waffle fries to show solidarity against gay marriage. One creative online type however, may have gotten the last laugh. Her YouTube video on how to make a Chick-Fil-Gay chicken sandwich at home, without the bigotry and MSG, got over 300,000 views.
9. SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act”, legislation in Congress that was successfully stopped in its tracks when major Internet sites like Wikipedia went dark for a day back in January. While SOPA was meant to keep people from making and selling illegal copies of Hollywood blockbusters, the fine print could have shut down anybody using content sourced from another site without completing reams of paperwork and being granted written permission. Giving simple credit and a link back would no longer be good enough. SOPA has not been heard from since. Congress may currently have bigger fish to fry, like say that gnarly fiscal cliff we’re about to fall off here at year’s end.
10. You might think the question to our final answer is overloaded, asking which states voted red and which voted blue in the 2012 Presidential election that saw Barack Obama handily defeat rival Mitt Romney in what was far less of a close contest than our media (both print and online) wanted anyone to believe. But what if, going forward, everyone put their trust more in Google than Gallup. In polls conducted online rather than by landline. And gave props to a New York Times pollster named Nate Silver, who called the 2012 election the same way as he called 2008 – exactly right. Silver relies heavily on that newfangled Internet to grab and crunch a bunch of his data. While the Romney campaign hedged their bets on internal polls that counted old school smile-and-dial techniques among its tried and true, the Obama campaign went mobile. Silver did not discard that data. And the answer to who would vote blue and who would vote red was available online two days before the election.