17 Most Tweeted Events of 2011 (You’ll NEVER guess #1)

2011 was an impressive year for Twitter. (Beyonce is pregnant!) Many people, myself included, started taking Twitter seriously this year, and the numbers of users continue to increase, with no sign of letting up. (She’s pregnant!) Since the year is almost finished, there have been many people who have been saying that the biggest event of the year is… yes, Beyonce being pregnant. At least in terms of the number of people talking about it. (Pregnant!) But the year is not finished, and there has already been something that not only beat the record number of tweets per second, but absolutely demolished it. So let’s look at the most Tweeted events of the year.

The Rankings

The following comic comes from newsmanga.com (reporting news in manga form, not news about manga), and has been translated into English from Japanese. Any and all mistakes were preserved, and will be explained below.

(Both the panels and the dialogues are meant to be read from right to left!)

For those of you who are not Hayao Miyazaki fans: Castle in the Sky was the first movie created by Studio Ghibli in 1986. Ghibli is probably the most successful anime studio in the world. Their films are always gigantic hits, and Castle in the Sky has a gigantic amount of fans, evidently. The final panel above is pretty funny if you have seen the movie (SPOILER ALERT). The two characters above are recreating the climax of the film, where they shout – hand in hand – the word “BARUS” together to conjure up a powerful magic spell to save the day. Barus was one of the most tweeted words on Twitter that day.

“Top 16”

  1. Beyonce’s baby announcement
  2. Troy Davis’ execution
  3. Fifa Women’s World Cup Championship – See Japan wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup, people care
  4. Brazil defeated in the Copa America
  5. Steve Jobs’ resignation
  6. New Year
  7. BET Awards
  8. UEFA Champions League
  9. Steve Jobs’ Death – See An Apple a Day – Why Steve Jobs REALLY Died
  10. NBA Finals
  11. Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of 3/11- See The Great 2011 Tōhoku Quake and Top 4 Documentaries on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake
  12. America’s East-coast Earthquake
  13. Raid on Osama bin Laden – See Whatever You Think You Know About bin Laden’s Death is Probably Wrong
  14. Homerun Derby
  15. Super Bowl XLV
  16. UK Royal Wedding

The Real #1

As I mentioned earlier, all mistakes would be explained. You may have noticed that in the comic, #14 suddenly jumps to 9,995 TPS. That seems to have been nothing more than a careless typo. However, the last mistake they made confuses me, because I can’t understand where they got that number. Seriously, almost doubling Beyonce’s announcement, at 14,594 tweets per second? Not even close! Listen to the official announcement from TwitterComms:

On Dec 9, the television screening in Japan of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Castle in the Sky” led to 25,088 Tweets per second – a new Twitter record.

Yes, that’s right. Japan didn’t almost double Beyonce’s announcement. It almost tripled it.

Keep in mind that this was only aired in Japan, unlike these sports events, award shows, or famous deaths. This means that no foreign news program reported on this – which always raises the TPS – because it was nothing more than a routine film airing on Japan’s weekly Friday movie-night program (called “Kinyou Roadshow,” or “Friday Roadshow”). That’s impressive. I admit that I’m surprised this particular movie broke the record, but I’m not at all surprised that it was Japan that did it.

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 Excerpt from “Skeptikai on Twitter“:

Japan is – as Akky Akimoto wrote for the Japan Times – the “Twitter Nation.” Despite twitter being conceived in America in 2006, Americans use it less than Japanese people do (per capita). According to one study that finished a few weeks ago, by the Pew Research Center in America, 13% of American internet users are using twitter (there were a total of 2,277 participants). Whether these Pew numbers accurately reflect the current percentage of American users is debatable, but we can compare them to the results of the ComScore research firm, an internet market research company. According to ComScore, only 8% of Americans use Twitter, compared to 20% of Japanese people. I think the number will grow dramatically for Japan users as the generations change (note: Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world, and a huge elderly population which influence the statistics). Also, note that America’s population is almost 2 and a half times larger than Japan’s, so we may be talking about a relatively equal number of users. But at least per capita, Japan is certainly the “Twitter nation.”

The website “GreyReview” published the following, along with the “top 16” tweets, on December 13th.

Twitter fairly captured the essence of 2011. Below is a list of top 16 events tweeted this year, ranked by tweets per second (TPS). TPS as a yardstick to measure the intensity of reaction by Twitter users and thus, signifies the level of significance of an event.

Only five events in the list were dominantly US-centric, namely Troy Davis execution, NBA Finals, East Coast Earthquake, Home Run Derby, and Superbowl. The others have more global appeals. Yet another indication of growing internationalization of Twitter.

You may agree or disagree how indicative TPS rates are for the “level of significance of an event;” but lucky for me, I have the power of hindsight. Twitter can be a very important tool for people to utilize, such as by Japanese doctors who used them to help their patients after March 11. It can tell you what is on people’s minds, but I don’t think they indicate much on true significance. In my opinion – and probably most people’s opinions if they sit down and think about it – the horrible case of Troy Davis or the March 11 disasters are actually the most significant. But these involve complicated issues, and are not suitable for short tweets. Talking about celebrities is always easier.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that Twitter is essentially a geographically limitless water-cooler. I think if the significance of Troy Davis could be summed up in 140 characters, then maybe that would have been #1. But there is a lot to say about complex cases like that.

Instead we’ll have to settle for the messages that are easier to type out, and easier to get involved in as a collective. Ones that may involve little thought, such as those which bring back nostalgia and allow us to engage in the fantasy of what life was like in the “good ol’ days.”

Suddenly “BARUS” is starting to make a lot of sense.

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