2017 | THE YEAR ON TWITTER

It has certainly been a year, alright.

It’s been a year on Twitter as well – 2017, if you want to be exact.

Over the past 12 months, lots of things have happened. Some of those things have been good, some of those things have been bad, and some of those things have fallen bang in the middle of good and bad and been alright, at best.

And then there were the things that made such considerable social impacts, changed lives, and were pretty much the most noteworthy things to happen all year. A lot of those things were talked about for weeks and even months on end. Most of those things are still being talked about now.

And all of them – at one point or another since we were thrust carelessly into January – trended on Twitter.

#Weinstein, #Spacey, and others accused of multiple cases of sexual assault and harassment, sparks the #MeToo movement

Earlier this year, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was repeatedly accused of sexual harassment, assault, and rape by multiple women. The first to speak about Weinstein was actress Ashley Judd who accused the producer of asking her to his hotel room 20 years ago. Once she was inside, Judd said that Weinstein asked her if she wanted to watch him take a shower. She told The New York Times that she wondered: “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?”

Actress Rose McGowan was also named in this initial article. Later, she took to Twitter to claim that Weinstein had raped her and that her complaints had been ignored. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, and Heather Graham were among the others who came forward with their allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against the producer. He apologised and admitted to wrongdoing except in cases of rape.

Weinstein was the beginning, but he certainly wasn’t the end. Following those accusations came other concerning many powerful Hollywood players including but not restricted to Kevin Spacey, Ed Westwick, Dustin Hoffman, and Louis CK. House of Cards’ production was put on hold, apologies were issued (not all of them specifically referencing the alleged abuser’s sexual orientation), claims were denied, and silences were broken again and again.

And amidst all of this, the #MeToo movement sprang into existence. Twitter was awash with stories of assault, tales of harassment, detailed accusations, and admissions of guilt all under the central theme of ‘yeah, that happened to me too.’

The movement sparked such simultaneous outrage and inspiration that suddenly the world became an ever-so-slightly safer place to speak about these experiences. People were still cautious but they were speaking. Investigations were beginning and victims were being believed.

TIME magazine named The Silence Breakers as their person of the year for 2017. The publication’s cover featured the likes of Ashley judd, Taylor Swift, and Susan Fowler but it represented all who had spoken about what they had endured and all who had broken their silence. Even those who could not put a face or a name to their story appeared on TIME‘s cover, represented by a single anonymous arm just visible to the right of the page.

#CitizensAssembly and #OireachtasCommittee vote in favour of #repealthe8th 

When then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that a Citizens’ Assembly would consider what kind of abortion laws Ireland was ready for, activists called the move a delay tactic. They said that asking 99 people to sit in room and talk through what the people of Ireland wanted was nothing more than a farce, a way for the government to continue to ignore the thousands who took to the streets every year to march for choice, the hundreds who had told their abortion stories, and those who had died because of Ireland’s laws.

They were right, it was a delay tactic, and yet the results of the assembly showed that Ireland is not just ready for more liberalised abortion law, but that when adequately informed about terminations and the laws that could exist to legislate for them, they are vastly in favour of allowing people to make up their own minds about their pregnancies.

The assembly voted enormously in favour of allowing abortion without restriction up until 12 weeks gestation. Following this, the Oireachtas Committee made up of TDs and senators voted similarly, agreeing with the 99 citizens who had considered the matter before them.

Both results weren’t only substantial progress for the pro-choice movement, but they also proved that once given proper education on abortion, the majority of individuals can take a step back from personal prejudices and allow pregnant people to make their own decisions about their bodies.

This growing support was accurately represented in 2017’s march for choice too. After the #strike4repeal in March saw thousands book a day off work in protest of the government’s delay tactics, the march for choice saw many, many more give up their weekend to walk the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and other cities around the world.

This year’s march was one of the largest on record, with an estimated 25,000 people taking to the streets. The momentum from earlier in the year had not been lost and neither had the public’s appetite for choice… As well as a clever sign or two.

https://twitter.com/EimerNISh/status/914814458605785088

Millennials can’t afford houses because of #avocados 

The biggest story of 2017 came in the unlikely form of avocados and how they’re ruining the property market while also being a symbol of millennial transiency and stupidity or something.

Except they’re not, they’re just a fruit or a plant or whatever and they are representative of nothing more than the fact that they are delicious.

One guy who disagrees with the above statement is Australian millionaire Tim Gurner. He disagrees with it so much that he went on 60 Minutes and claimed that millennials would be able to buy houses if they weren’t “buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each.”

Right.

It wasn’t long at all before Gurner’s statement became a meme in its own right, spawning thousands upon thousands of tweets about smashed avo, avo toast, and other delicious avo related things. Because who needs a roof over their head when they’ve got brunch?

#RichardSpencer gets punched, #MiloYiannopoulos loses book

It’s been a big year for the alt right. Not in the good they-were-pleasant-and-made-a-lot-of-progress kind of way, but in the they-were-awful-and-they-continued-to-spread-their-hatred kind of way.

This year the white nationalists held an abundance of rallies across America so they could celebrate their white pride without shame and wear white hoods without being judged. Except they were shamed because counter rallies sprang up, and they were judged because a lot of them lost their jobs for supporting racist ideologies.

Another thing that happened that may or may not have defined the alt right movement’s presence in 2017 was when Richard Spencer got punched in the face. It was an iconic moment of defiance, one that shall forever remain etched in the public psyche as a time when somebody tried to explain why Pepe the Frog is for some reason a symbol of white supremacy and got decked in the jaw.

It was beautiful, it was stunning, and it will never be forgotten.

Twitter loved Spencer getting punched in the face so much that they ran with it for at least one and a half weeks, layering it with the Sonic theme and other remixes that aren’t as important or impressive as the Sonic theme.

https://twitter.com/Dpzzle/status/822648919431794688

Soon after Spencer got decked, another apparently dapper-and-well-dressed-and-groomed-but-still-a-hate-filled-white-nationalist-remember? faced a bit of a set back in the form of his book being canceled.

However, Milo Yiannopoulos’s book deal wasn’t cancelled because of his questionable opinions about women, immigrants, and anybody who isn’t him, but because a clip emerged of him seeming to rationalise paedophilia. In the clip he said:  “Paedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature. Paedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty.” He also claimed that consent is “arbitrary and oppressive.”

As well as having his book dropped, Milo Yiannopoulos also resigned from Breitbart News much to the dismay of people who like Milo Yiannopoulos. He recently set up something called Milo Inc. – a media outlet which is dedicated to “the destruction of political correctness.”

#IbrahimHalawa comes home

After spending four years in prison in Egypt, in 2017 Ibrahim Halawa finally came home. The Firhouse native was arrested in Cairo in 2013 when he was just 17-years-old amidst protests concerning Egypt’s then-Preisdent Mohammed Morsi. Three of Halawa’s sisters were also arrested that day and eventually released on bail. Ibrahim spent over four years in prison before being acquitted of all charges.

The 21-year-old arrived home to Ireland towards the end of October. He was greeted by friends, family, and supporters, all who had campaigned tirelessly to have the innocent man freed over many years. During his stay in prison, Ibrahim had his trial postponed over 20 times. He later told Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show that he was subjected to beatings and torture. He always denied having an affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since his return to Ireland, Ibrahim has established a steady social media presence, constantly taking to Twitter and Instagram to share images and stories about his life since he has come home. He regularly takes to Dublin’s streets to help those who are less fortunate than him.

#Babadook becomes gay icon

Those of you who haven’t seen The Babadook may not be familiar with the creature’s link to the LGBT community. Unlike other monsters who have graced our presence on the horror movie scene these past few years, the Babadook does not just exist to scare and to terrorise. No, he exists as a symbol of pride, to fight the oppression of queer people, and most importantly, to slay.

But the Babadook was not always a gay icon. In fact, there was a time way before Netflix accidentally included The Babadook in the Gay & Lesbian section of their site, that he was nothing more than a character in a movie.

That is known only as The Dark Time. We don’t like to talk about it.

https://twitter.com/Maccadaynu/status/872495700034158592

#FyreFestival wasn’t lit

Oh, what could have been.

Way back in April, Fyre Festival promised a load of rich kids a “once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the Islands of the Exumas.” For just four grand, attendees would be able to soak up the sun, sand, and scenes of the Bahamas while enjoying some tunes and getting a lot of content for their Grams at the same time.

Except that didn’t happen at all. Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid might have been promoting the festival, but that didn’t mean that they knew the carnage that was going to unfold. Ja Rule might have promised people some stellar music acts, but that didn’t mean that anyone had actually been booked. People might have been told that they wouldn’t have to eat slices of cheese out of styrofoam boxes to stay alive, but that’s exactly what happened.

The festival hadn’t even begun and it was already being likened to The Lord of the Flies, with those who had arrived early being subjected to dodgy tents, shit meals, and literally hell on earth to be honest. It wasn’t long before these people took to social media to declare that they had been scammed into thinking this festive was going to be a bit of fun, that they hated it there, and that they actually feared for their lives.

Many demanded their money back and Ja Rule said they could have some VIP passes for next year’s event instead. They declined.

Since Fyre’s failure, Ja Rule and his associates have been engaged in eight different fraud lawsuits, one of which is seeking over $100 million in damages. Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland was also arrested at the end of June for wire fraud.

Ja Rule remains at large.

#BlakeShelton named sexist man alive

Ah, what a better way to end the year than to consider the grossest miscarriage of justice to have graced 2017 – Blake Shelton being named sexist man alive.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing especially wrong with Blake. He’s grand. We’re not here to shame anybody’s appearance or the good people of People magazine for naming him the sexist man alive 2017. What we are here to do though is consider why this happened. And to potentially stop it from happening ever again.

https://twitter.com/people/status/930601811471486976

https://twitter.com/people/status/930782461927211008

Blake Shelton, as an individual, is fine. But what Blake represents, is not.

Blake represents every straight man floating around the media who is yeah, okay, alright looking, but who also doesn’t really have to do anything to be considered a gift sent from God. Blake is just Blake, he’s just a guy, but he’s also every other guy who does the bare minimum and receives rambunctious applause for doing essentially nothing.

When’s the last time you saw a woman who was Blake’s level of attractive been hailed as the sexist woman alive? Never, probably. But hey, maybe 2018 will be her year. We can only hope.


Feature Image Sources: RTE, TMZ, & Unsplash.

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