It’s two days until Christmas; despite a brisk breeze and a couple cold weather days over the past few weeks, it still feels like spring in Los Angeles.
Many of you have likely left for the holiday, but some of you, like us, are at the office wrapping up loose ends. For those who haven’t left the grid, we have a best of 2009 list with five cultural shockers, the news of which went viral instantly and spread like wildfire through our online consciousness via blogs and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Here they are, our picks for the top five viral ‘OMG’ moments in 2009 that the Internet couldn’t stop talking about, in no particular order:
1 – Iran protests
When the results of Iran’s 2009 presidential elections were revealed in June, citizens erupted into mass protests over alleged conspiracy and flocked to Twitter to share their experience on the ground in Tehran.
From shootings to arrests, the American public got up-to-the-minute status reports from Iran, and the citizens use of Twitter to spread the news further solidified the value in microblogging networks in times of emergency, while stirring support and interest people who may have otherwise ignored the situation.
2 – MJ froze the Internet
An idol and inspiration to many, Michael Jackson touched the lives of fans around the world. When he passed suddenly in June, the outpouring of grief, memories, and questions froze Internet traffic across websites and browsers.
Sites like TMZ and that of celebrity blogger Perez Hilton were crushed under the weight of people searching for confirmation the King of Pop was in fact deceased, while MJ’s wiki entry was frozen by site owners due to the massive number of queries received simultaneously, and Google returned error messages to countless users suggesting they were robots automating searches.
3 – Hudson River plane crash
When US Airways flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River in New York this January, it wasn’t CNN who broke the news, but rather, an ordinary man with a camera and a Twitter account. That man’s name was Janis Krums, and the photo of the crash he posted to Twitter to accompany the following tweet since been viewed more than 43,000 times:
“There’s a plane in the Hudson,” Krums wrote. “I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.”
If media were skeptical of Twitter before January, the value inherent in the microblogging site’s immediacy could no longer be overlooked. News of The Hudson River plane crash spreading via Twitter was more proof that a real shift from big media to citizen journalism was taking place.
4 – Euna Lee and Laura Ling
When Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were arrested by the North Korean military in March 2009 and later sentenced to 12 years in a hard labor camp for border trespassing, blogs and social media networks answered Lee and Ling’s silent call for support.
Eventually, you couldn’t visit a popular news blog or log on to Twitter or Facebook without being reminded of the journalists’ plight.
Thankfully, the two women were released after a trip to North Korea by former US president Bill Clinton. We’d like to think their release was inevitable; still, the way Internet users came together to drum up support for Lee and Ling speaks highly of the power of social media to effect positive change.
5 – Kanye and Taylor Swift
The other four events on this list may be grave, but the ‘OMG’ factor is strong when it comes to the relatively one-sided showdown between hip-hop artist Kanye West and pop-country songstress Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Whether you cared about Kanye, Taylor, or MTV, it didn’t matter; on the morning of September 14th, websites, blogs, and social networks were spitting Kanye disses like battle raps, and it was hard not to wonder what happened to incite the virtual hate-fest.
Inspiring 300,000 tweets in just one hour, the amount of press Kanye received for his VMA stunt was hard to believe; the Kanye interruption parodies that followed proved no matter whether you like him or his music, the man knows how to cause a scene.
Does traditional media have a shot at competing with citizen journalism? What were your most memorable viral/OMG moments of 2009? Post your thoughts below!