Twitter is changing. Once a platform for quick and innocuous updates about people’s day to day lives, it’s become a resource for revolution, charity, politics and emergency relief. It’s gone from a pithy distraction used by attention deficit adolescents to a practically mandatory space of worldwide interaction and connection - a great leveler of people.
This may sound a bit overdramatic, which is why I’ve compiled a Top Ten list of the most awesome uses of Twitter in 2012 to prove my point.
10. Twitter Tattoo Charity Auction. One tattoo-loving cancer survivor is auctioning off space on his body for a tattoo of the Twitter handle of the person who offers the biggest donation. 100% of the donation goes to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, an adorable fundraising project started by a four year old to raise money for cancer research.
9. Reuniting People With Their Dogs. A lost pup in Ireland was reunited with his owner after she took to Twitter to ask people to help her find him. This is just an example of a long list of pets that have been found with the help of the Twitter community.
8. Engaging Students Outside of the Classroom. One teacher who joined Twitter earlier this year decided to start tweeting voluntary math assignments to her class. The kids responded. And she didn’t even offer extra credit. Another example of how using things that kids love to teach instead of banning them makes students more eager to participate and helps them learn.
7. Fiscal Cliff Town Hall Meeting. Technically this sort of thing began before 2012, but I want to reiterate how cool it is that anyone can ask the actual President of the United States a question from the comfort of their own homes and get an answer straight from the President’s fingers.
6. The Pope. That’s right. The Pope’s on Twitter now.
5. Exposing Women’s Issues in the Video Game Industry. The hashtag #1reasonwhy sprung up in response to a question regarding why there are so few women in the video game industry. These women are now using Twitter to speak out against the surprising sexism that can still be found at a time when 47% of gamers are female. Even their male counterparts have noticed and are tweeting in support.
4. 2012 Presidential Election. On election day 2012, political ads and partisan attacks were put aside in the wake of lines that dwarf Black Friday checkout waits. Both candidates did what they could to help as polling locations and rules were passed on through the Twitterscape. Yes - Twitter helped Democracy happen.
3. Breaking the Silence in Saudi Arabia. For the first time ever, the people of Saudi Arabia are voicing criticisms of the royal family. What are they using to finally speak out? Twitter. While normally people would be arrested for this, so many citizens have taken to Twitter to break their silence that the authorities have pretty much given up.
Translation: We are prepared to pay the price, whatever it may be, for our people to obtain their rights, and Lord we are not afraid of the Saudi regime's prisons or its political executions.
2. Israel-Gaza Conflict. Mashable put together a Storify timeline of the latest violent conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip, telling the unfolding story through the use of tweets posted by citizens on both sides. Though the conflict caused over a hundred deaths, the use of Twitter by the people who were directly experiencing the chaos served to bring the world closer to this issue. Nothing makes people care about a problem than showing that real people are affected by it.
1. Hurricane Sandy. Though many may still view Twitter as a repository of less-than-useful information, the massive information campaign that swept through Twitter as Sandy swept through the East Coast says differently. Shelter locations were posted, donations gathered, and friends and family reassured through millions of tweets.