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#SpaceGeckos and more: The biggest social media stories of 2014

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Posted at 8:05 PM, Dec 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-24 10:10:22-05

We didn’t start the fire, #ItWasAlwaysBurningSinceTheWorldsBeenTurning.

Here’s a look at the biggest social media trends in 2014:

#PolarVortex

2014 kicked off with a winter that just would not end. The Polar Vortex brought record snowfall and freezing temperatures in the northern U.S. through April. Thanks, Canada!

 

#SochiProblems | #Sochi2014

The Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia were plagued with some initial setup issues. Journalists covering the event were greeted with oddly spaced toilets and funky water. But in the end the Olympics went down without major problems. Except this one:

 

#Selfie | #Oscars

The 2014 Oscars were immortalized by the greatest selfie...

…since Buzz Aldrin

 

#Ebola | #Africa | #EbolaNurse

The largest Ebola outbreak in history struck West Africa this year. It was also the first time Ebola came to the United States.

 

#BringBackOurGirls | #HeForShe | #Feminism | #yesallwomen | #WhyIStayed | #GamerGate | #RayRice

Women’s issues and feminism took center stage this year. Emma Watson delivered a breakthrough address to the United Nations on feminism and men's role in it.

That conversation continued in the Ray Rice domestic abuse case and in stories on sexual assault in college and the military.

 

#RIPRobinWilliams | #PhilipSeymourHoffman

We lost many great artists this year. But the suicide death of Robin Williams was a gut punch for those who were uplifted by his comedy. Dramatic actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose at the height of his fame. At 46, he’d already won an Oscar and had been nominated for three others.

 

#WorldCup | #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave | #WorldCupBite | #GermanyWins

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the heroics of American goalie Tim Howard will never be forgotten. Though Luis Suarez might take a bite out of it.

 

#ICantBreathe | #BlackLivesMatter | #Ferguson | #NoIndictment | #DonaldSterling

Racial tensions came to a head in 2014 with the police deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Protests over the lack of a grand jury indictment of the two police officers resulted in riots, protests and – yes – thoughtful conversation around the country.

 

#LetItGo | #Frozen

Let go of your fears, cast away your inhibitions. People took this lesson from Disney’s Frozen, released on home video in February, and incorporated the song just about everywhere.

 

#ImComingHome / #TheKingIsBack

@KingJames’ reversal of The Decision (2010) was met with open arms in Cleveland. Miami fans may regret walking out on the Heat’s last NBA Finals for a long time.

 

#Decision2014 | #Election | #Midterm | #BourbonSummit

No matter what side you were on in the 2014 midterm election, it was a massacre for Democrats.

 

#ISIS | #ISIL | #IslamicState

The Islamic State seemed to come out of nowhere in 2014, but the seeds of it were planted long before. What started as a spin off of Al-Qaida is now a major force in the Middle East, enough to pull the United State back into the conflict.

 

#MarsOrbiter | #CometLanding | #Antares | #SpaceShipTwo | #Dragon | #GoGetThoseGeckos

Space travel took several large but shaky steps for mankind in 2014. India sent its first orbiter to Mars and the European Space Agency landed on a comet for the first time ever. American company SpaceX built on its success under contract with NASA.

Then Antares blew up. The web was filled with amateur video of the Orbital Sciences’ rocket explosion, which was visible on much of the east coast. Soon after, a test pilot died when Virgin Galactic’s space plane, SpaceShipTwo, broke up during a test flight.

Earlier in the year, the world held its breath to find out if the Russian "sex geckos" would survive their trip into space. They didn't.

 

#IceBucketChallange

Millions of dollars were raised for ALS research thanks to this viral video campaign.

 

#Malaysia | #Flight370

For two months, CNN provided nearly round the clock coverage of the crash, to high ratings but a critical panning. The Internet speculated and waited. The wreckage of Malaysia Flight 370 still hasn’t been found.

 

#ObamaTanSuit

This was a thing?

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern.