SALT LAKE CITY — If you've tweeted, "friended", followed or shared this year, you're definitely not alone. Social media is now mainstream, and in 2012 we watched it break news, serve as a podium for views, and connect us all in ways and with people we never thought possible.
This past year gave us many things, and many of us expressed our opinions about it all online — more of us, in fact, than ever before.
On Feb.11 news broke that pop legend Whitney Houston had died, and social media became an outlet for millions of Twitter tributes as fans tweeted their favorite songs with the hashtag #WeRemember
Nationally, politics played an important role on Twitter and Facebook. The 2012 presidential campaign gave us #BigBird, #bayonets, and #bindersfullofwomen. It also gave us the most popular tweet of all time after President Obama's win: a picture of him and wife Michelle hugging, captioned "four more years."
For 16 days, Olympic fever took over online. The London Games generated 150 million tweets. And a petite girl with a huge smile and some big bounce — USA gymnast Gabby Douglas — gained over 700,000 Twitter followers after winning a gold medalist.
Also this year, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" topped the Billboard music charts and launched a parody phenomenon. Everyone from the Cookie Monster to Mormon seminary teachers used YouTube to show they world how they can "Call Me Maybe."
Then Korean pop star Psy and his quirky pony prancing in the "Gangnam Style" music video became a household name and garnered the most YouTube views in the site's history. The video has been shared, and re-shared again and again.
Locally, our trends ranged from #rosecrest to #dumpfire for the wildfires that raged all summer. Cities like Herriman and Alpine used Twitter to quickly spread evacuation information to residents and media.
Enraged Utahns used Facebook and Twitter to sign online petitions and put pressure on Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the controversial sex education bill HB363.
The bill would have banned classroom discussion tied to contraceptives, intercourse and homosexuality. But Herbert agreed with petitioners and vetoed the bill March 16.
Now we're ending the year with hashtags representing a cause no one ever wanted to type about: #ctshooting and #prayersfornewtown. They're tied to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 students and 6 teachers dead.
But amid the sadness and shock, an uprising of good has prevailed. The hashtags #20Acts and #26Acts for random acts of kindness in memory of each the victims have picked up steam over the last couple of weeks — proving the web is a way for us to join forces for good and connect to friends and followers half a world away.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond