This list cannot begin without mentioning how crazy Pokémon Go got us this year. The app launched on iOS and Android at around this time last year, however the craze (and how) spilled to 2017 as well. Fans were crazy playing this game. At times, even risking their life. People started to trespass strangers’ properties, atheists were entering temples, and the laziest of lazies were looking for this special new gym called PokéGym.
It got very intense for the initial few months. Niantic Labs had to add a disclaimer at the beginning of the app warning players to prioritize their safety, after multiple accidents were reported of players walking up on streets hypnotized by the game, trying to Catch ‘em all!. Unfortunately, in less than six months of its launch, people forgot it like it never launched in the first place.
We fidgeted and we spinned
Then, there were those little plastic wheelies that the world was spinning, and we called it the Fidget Spinner. People made a million videos of them wheeling the fidget spinner, and my favorites were pets and fidgets spinners. The trends got so big that countries started to ban the toy against fear of their students being “too distracted” by it. On the other hand, some researchers were writing reports on how this was actually a scientifically helpful toy. Google Search hopped on the trend and added a virtual spinner to the Search. People even made websites dedicated to the trend.
The chicken nugget guy
Remember Carter Wilkerson? The guy who just randomly tweeted to Wendy’s asking how many retweets would get him a year supply of free chicken? He may not have become an ongoing trend like how fidget spinner was, but the guy had us all tracking his retweets, and seeing what happens to his year-long supply of nuggets.
Carter’s tweet to Wendy became the most retweeted post in the history of Twitter with over 3.5 million retweets. This post left behind the world record of famous talk show host Ellen Degeneres’ Oscar Selfie tweet from 2014, which had 3.4 million retweets, and was believed to be worth $1 billion.
This became even more unreal when Guinness World Records announced that the 16-year-old of Reno, Nevada, has shattered the Guinness World Records title for Most retweeted message on Twitter. Surpassing the previous record held by Ellen DeGeneres.
— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) May 9, 2017
And all of this happened when #NuggsforCarter became a trend, and the teenager obviously became a viral celebrity, with a “verified” checkmark for his Twitter account. Ellen Degeneres called him over on The Ellen Show, calling him a “threat” to her most retweeted post record. Ellen’s tongue-in-cheek embrace of Wilkerson’s quest took the game to a whole new level. Before Ellen, Wilkerson was just a guy wanting free food. But After Ellen, there was a race, and a record, and we know who won.
The Game of Leaks
What also had the social media buzzing was the HBO hack, and the eventual (multiple) leaks of a number of episodes of popular TV series Game of Thrones. The hack and the leaks weren’t confirmed, but the two surely had us tweeting and sharing about almost every episode of the season seven that got leaked.
However, despite the leak, the show continued to be the most popular and most anticipated TV shows of the year.
#Metoo #WomenBoycottTwitter #AintNoCindrella
Social media also became a platform for rebellion this year. Women and some men began to boycott Twitter after the suspension from the site of actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan. McGowan, a key figure in the burgeoning Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, was locked out of Twitter for about 12 hours.
Then another trend sprouted due to the same Harvey Weinstein case when actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter, saying that if all women on social media platforms put up a status saying MeToo if they were ever sexually harassed, people will understand the magnitude of the situation. This soon turned into a social trend across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with women sharing their experiences under these hashtags.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
AintNoCindrella was another tag that trended this year after 29-year-old Varnika Kundu reported an appalling incident that took place in Chandigarh, Haryana, wherein she escaped being kidnapped by a hairline. Commenting on the case, a Haryana BJP deputy president blamed Varnika Kundu in the case, saying women shouldn’t be allowed to “roam at night”.
This gave rise to the AintNoCindrella trend, where women began to share their late night selfies. Girls in India made sure people knew that we are no damsels in distress.
Cheese in the burger
One of the most amusing trends on social media this year was a debate on slice of cheese in a burger emoji on Android.
I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top pic.twitter.com/PgXmCkY3Yc
— Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) October 28, 2017
Will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday:) if folks can agree on the correct way to do this! https://t.co/dXRuZnX1Ag
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) October 29, 2017
Out of the blue, a Twitter user tweeted what he thought was a flaw in Android’s burger emoji, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took note, and even had a little fun by serving burger lunch at their offices where they placed the cheese underneath the burger patty.
Lunch at Google today: an "Android Burger" 🍔 pic.twitter.com/I4dwOUPASg
— Brad Fitzpatrick (@bradfitz) November 3, 2017
This debate went on for a while, with people comparing emojis by Apple, Android and Windows. Companies like KFC and McDonald’s also took advantage of the situation, tweeting how everybody should forget the virtual burger and relish the best they offer.
This cheese burger debate had us hooked for a while, and ultimately Google corrected its stance on this, and placed the cheese slice below the patty in its cheeseburger emoji.
Stories, stories all the way
This list deserves a special mention of Instagram Stories. While the feature’s inception is marked in 2016, it really picked up pace in 2017. For that matter, Stories feature spread like wildfire this year, going beyond Instagram. This year, Facebook rolled out the feature to its primary app, the Messenger, and to WhatsApp.
While Instagram, and its cousin apps were initially (highly) criticized for borrowing Snapchat’s defining feature, users slowly started to accept and eventually really love the feature. To an extent that Snapchat began to lose audience across the world. Instagram with just a year old feature, on the other hand, flourished with over 250 million monthly active users.
But the credit cannot be denied to Instagram either. The platform didn’t exactly just copy and paste features here, it worked on it, and managed to make it look much superior to Snapchat’s. It rolled out support for URL embeds in stories, it made Instagram for businesses stronger, it enabled support for live videos, added features such as boomerang, superzoom, and basically had our hearts on it.