2014 As Told By Hashtags

The year is coming to a close and as it is customary for many sites to run a recap of the biggest events to happen in 2014, we thought we’d do ours, with a bit of a difference. In this post we will be looking at 2014 as told by hashtags. These are the topics that were abuzz in Twitterverse throughout the year, you may have used some of these hashtags yourself.

The list is, of course, not exhaustive – we can only do so much in a single write up – but we hope to have captured the gist of how 2014 was with these hashtags. Here’s to a better year in 2015.


February 7-23, 2014: The 2014 Winter Olympics began on February 6 in Sochi, Russia and eventually became the most expensive Olympics in history, with expenses amounting to US$ 51 billion. Controversies and problems riddled the event as documented by athletes and members of the press under the hashtag #SochiProblems and #SochiStrays.


March 3, 2014: This year, the Oscars broke Twitter with an epic selfie.

The host, Ellen DeGeneres, who made the selfie happened, also ordered pizza to be delivered, and tipped the pizza delivery guy quite generously. On the red carpet, Benedict Cumberbatch photobombed U2.


March 8, 2014: Even as we are entering 2015, there is still no word about the fate of flight MH370, except that authorities are still searching for it. While bound for Beijing, China from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with more than 200 passengers and crew members on board, the plane disappeared without a trace, sparking an unprecedented massive multinational effort to find the plane.


March 25, 2014: It was announced that there was an outbreak of Ebola, a rare but deadly virus, with cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, it was only on September 30 that #Ebola started trending when Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed in the United States. To date, 17, 145 cases have been reported and 6, 070 people have died of the disease, the largest Ebola epidemic so far.


April 15, 2014: 276 girls were kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno at Nigeria. The Twitter hashtag campaign was to pressure authorities into taking swift action against the terrorists and to bring the girls back to safety.

First started by Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, the hashtag eventually snowballed as various individuals in Nigeria began to pick it up as a way to inform the world about the plight of the girls. Advocaters for the hashtag include Malala Yosafzai, Hilarry Clinton, and Michelle Obama.


April 16, 2014: En route from Incheon to Jeju, a South Korean ferry with 476 passengers, most school students, capsized and sunk. Only 174 were rescued. To date, 295 bodies have been recovered, with 7 still missing. The tragedy prompted national outcry for the captain of the ferry to be prosecuted, for deserting the ship. In November, it was reported that he escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to a 36-year sentence for willful negligence.


May 23, 2014: Elliot Rodger, 22 killed 6 people and injured 13 others on a killing spree near University of California, Santa Barbara in Isla Vista, California. He also shot himself. His motivation for his actions came to light in a series of Youtube videos detailing his hatred for women for scorning him and for men who stood in his way. This prompted women to share their stories of harrassment, sexual assault, and fear online through the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It sparked further debate when men responded with the hashtag #NotAllMen.


May 28, 2014: Celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou passed away peacefully at home. Best known for her book "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings", Angelou was widely regarded as an outspoken and prominent voice for black people and women. Many took to Twitter to pay their respects.


June 12-July 13, 2014: The 20th FIFA World Cup in Brazil was another major sports event of the year, which saw riots and protests over corruption and ballooning costs for delayed construction of facilities. During the games, Twitter was abuzz with US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s amazing 16 saves, Luis Suarez’s bite, Brazil’s terrible performance on home soil and Germany meeting Argentina for the finals, both waiting to bring home the Cup.

In the end, the Germans emerged victorious as this celebratory selfie shows:


July 7, 2014: The relationship between Israel and Gaza has always been rocky but this year, conflict erupted when Israel retaliated with Operation Protective Edge when Hamas launched rockets at them. Since then, social networks has been rife with pictures of casualties and death, articles detailing the conflict, and declarations of solidarity on both sides.


July 14, 2014: The Ice Bucket Challenge dominated social feeds for weeks as celebrity after celebrity dunked themselves with ice water in an effort to raise awareness for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a disease which affects neuro cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to paralysis. By the end of August, the challenge helped raise $ 100 million for research.


July 17, 2014: It’s a tough year for Malaysia’s national carrier. Around 4 months after the MH370 tragedy, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was reportedly shot down from the air while flying over the Ukraine-Russia border. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board perished in the crash. Retrieval of the passengers’ bodies were hampered by the conflict happening in the area but eventually the bodies were identified and sent home for burial. To date, 6 bodies remained unidentified.


August 11, 2014: The world grieved when news about Robin Williams, beloved actor and comedian, being found dead in his home hit the air. Widely known for his iconic movie roles and his comedic genius, tributes poured all over Twitter as fans paid their respect to Williams via the hashtag #RIPRobinWilliams. The tragic circumstances surrounding William’s death ignited talk and discussions about depression and suicide.


August 12, 2014: Protests over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9 is still ongoing today. Many on Twitter called for justice for Brown who died after being shot by police officer, Darren Wilson, on top of highlighting the issue of how black people are racially profiled and treated with suspicion automatically. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown carried photos of themselves and asked the question of how the media would use their photos to profile them.

Protests took a turn for the worse when the police force decided to confront the protestors instead of investigating Wilson. The media were not spared either when they were arrested for doing their job.

By the end of November, the verdict came in: Wilson walks. This prompted uproar and fueled more protests which now include the deaths of Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.


August 16, 2014: Gamergate which was supposed to be a fight for ethics in videogames journalism turned into a blatant attack on women journalists in the industry. Indie game developer, Zoe Quinn became the first target when her ex-boyfriend accused her of cheating on him, in his blog post. This developed into the misconception that she was sleeping around to get coverage for her game. The incident escalated to the point of misogynistic attacks on prominent women in gaming and pop culture, including Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu causing them to leave their homes for safety.


September 4, 2014: After complications from a throat proccedure, comedienne Joan Rivers passed away at age 81. Known for her sharp tongue and humor, Rivers was never one to hold back on her comments or her self-deprecating jokes. Her death was another blow to the comedy industry.


September 18, 2014: Scotland votes on whether they become an independant state or not. Referring to the Scottish Independence Referendum, #Indyref generated further hashtags such as #BetterTogether, #ScotDecides, #VoteYes, #VoteNo (to name but a few) for the month leading up to and on polling day itself. In the end, Scotland ‘voted’ to stay.


September 19, 2014: The iPhone decided to grow big with the introduction of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus but within days of its launch, #iPhone6 was soon replaced by #Bendgate. Horror stories about the slim and large phone bending in pockets began to surface and the competition decided to jumped in on the action with their own jokes about bending and flexing phones.


September 26, 2014: Starting out as #OccupyCentral, the protest was to call for China to give the people of Hong Kong their right to elect and vote for their own leader. University students and their peers took to the streets prompting news, discussions and footage of their conduct. The protests became violent when police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at the protestors prompting them to shield themselves with umbrellas, bringing about the #UmbrellaRevolution.


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