Gina Mei
December 10, 2015 4:43 pm

This week, Facebook released its annual “Year in Review” — a round-up of the site’s most-discussed topics, along with lists of the top people, places, and things that best defined 2015. The report is incredibly thorough, and includes everything from beloved athletes to preferred sticker packs and favorite politicians. But more than that, Facebook’s “Year in Review” says a surprising amount about how people are using social media — and how it’s affecting the world offline.

All ten of this year’s most-discussed topics were either big news topics or tragedies, of which 2015 has seen an absolutely devastating number. But the fact that we discussed these tragedies more than anything else shows just how much social media has evolved in the past few years.

  1. U.S. Presidential Election
  2. November 13 Attacks in Paris
  3. Syrian Civil War & Refugee Crisis
  4. Nepal Earthquakes
  5. Greek Debt Crisis
  6. Marriage Equality
  7. Fight Against ISIS
  8. Charlie Hebdo Attack
  9. Baltimore Protests
  10. Charleston Shooting & Flag Debate

Based on this list, not only is social media the place people turn to for breaking news, but it’s also the place we’re going to discuss it.

Recently, Facebook and other social media sites have become essential tools for sharing information and a way for people around the world to come together to incite real global change. It’s no secret that social media plays a big part in how we consume media online; and now, it’s beginning to shape the issues people care about most. For all the many random things we see trending on Facebook every day, it turns out that the things that resonated the most with its users were things of substance — all of which have greater implications about the world at large.

Of course, we have to look at this list in the greater context of 2015: It makes sense that most people would have more to say about something like American politics over, say, the latest viral cat video. But nonetheless, Facebook’s report is definitive proof that we’re actively expressing and sharing our opinions about things that truly matter. The more these issues are discussed, the more that people start to care; and the more likely that real change will occur.

This isn’t to discount the other, “lighter” parts of social media, however. We’re all about selfies, joke tweets, and sharing cute animal videos — and we will stand by that forever. But the fact that these news events so definitively shaped 2015 does suggest that most people are starting to use social media for something more than it was originally intended.

It’s a heartening thing to see; and we think there’s more than enough room for both sides of the coin. Of the remaining lists that Facebook included in its “Year in Review,” most of them were focused on the things we share when we’re happy.

For example, the top ten most discussed movies.

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Fast & Furious 7
  3. Jurassic World
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. American Sniper
  6. Straight Outta Compton
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Magic Mike XXL
  10. Pitch Perfect 2

Or the top ten most discussed entertainers.

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Taylor Swift
  3. Kanye West
  4. Nicky Jam
  5. Wiz Khalifa
  6. Drake
  7. Pitbull
  8. Caitlyn Jenner
  9. The Weeknd
  10. Shakira

Or the top ten most discussed TV shows.

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. The Daily Show
  4. Saturday Night Live
  5. WWE Raw
  6. The Simpsons
  7. 19 Kids and Counting
  8. Grey’s Anatomy
  9. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  10. Orange is the New Black

This side of social media also has major value and importance; and we should never discount the things that bring us pleasure. The power of social media, after all, is fostering connection — and whether it’s over tragedy or celebration, this connection is more important than ever.

“The moments we shared in 2015 affected us all,” the Year in Review reads. “They shocked, moved and inspired us to take action. They connected us.”

You can see the rest of Facebook’s “Year in Review” right here.

(Image via Facebook.)

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