In the past, media would look back at newspaper headlines and proclaim "The top 10 stories of the year were…"
Stories that make headlines do shape the way we see the world and affect what we talk about every day, but just because a story makes the biggest headlines, doesn't mean we talk about it the most. In fact, the stories that get us talking are often hard to measure.
The social media network is an exact barometer of how many people are talking about certain topics, and tracks how many retweets a story gets. Some of this year's top twitter topics are obvious. Some, not so much.
Number one tweet this year? "Four More Years" from the White House, accompanied by a picture of the president and first lady, hugging on election night.
Number two? An RIP tweet from Justin Bieber, to one of his young fans who died of cancer at age six. Can't you just hear little girls (or their mothers) as they re-tweet, saying, "Awwwww."
Other topics: the Olympics and Usain Bolt, the death of Whitney Houston, and election 2012.
A measure of what we as Americans think is important? Maybe. A measure of what people addicted to social media think is important? Certainly.
But those two groups are looking more and more the same with every year that passes.