The 10 best (and worst) tweets of 2012

Twitter made us laugh, made us mad — and sometimes it even moved us to tears

Topics: Best of 2012, Twitter, Anderson Cooper, Mindy Kaling, Donald Trump, Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, Hurricane Sandy, Cory Booker, Tammy Baldwin, Barack Obama,

The 10 best (and worst) tweets of 2012 (Credit: lev radin via Shutterstock/Salon)

You can learn a lot in 140 characters. Twitter, for all its tyrannical and inflexible brevity, unfailingly reveals the gamut of human nature, the wonders and horrors of the world. There are now a mind-boggling 200 million or more tweets going out every day. But these 10 represent our choices for the ones that, for better or worse, sum up the year 2012.

 

After years of playing coy, the dapper newsman Anderson Cooper finally officially came out of the closet in an open letter to Daily Beast writer Andrew Sullivan on July 2. But though it came as zero surprise, a few remained undeterred by the news.

When Aetna informed doctoral student Arijit Guha, just as he was in the midst of stage-4 colon cancer, that he’d reached his insurance coverage cap, the 31-year-old took his story to Twitter and found himself engaged in a public conversation with his insurer’s CEO, Mark T. Bertolini. He wound up getting full coverage – and making the debate over health care intimate and urgent.

 

His election night “4 more years” message would become the most retweeted post in Twitter history, but it was his cool dis to Clint Eastwood’s absurd conversation with an empty chair at the RNC that showed the POTUS knows what social media is truly all about: landing an epic burn.



 

After the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks — thanks to the controversial call of replacement refs — Packers guard TJ Lang succinctly summed up the outrage of players and fans alike.

 

There may not be life on Mars, but there’s still social media. Ever since arriving on the red planet in August, Curiosity has been NASA’s coolest — and most well-traveled — correspondent.

 

After Sandy ravaged the East Coast, the mayor of Newark — already known for his talent for leaping into action while simultaneously tweeting about it — went into overdrive. And for the man who could turn one guy’s Hot Pocket crisis into an opportunity, his finest moment may have come when he opened up his home to his neighbors who were without power.

 

Donald Trump’s whole feed is one big litany of lunacy, but it was never more so than on election night, when the gruff reality show C-lister pitched an epic tantrum. He subsequently deleted some of his more uprising-flavored tweets, but enough of the meltdown is left to be entertaining.

 

On November 6, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, and she had a few words on her place in history.

 

Adding to his long history of absolutely gross behavior, Chris Brown went on an epic, poorly spelled attack when comic Jenny Johnson lobbed an insult in his direction. He took a brief hiatus and deleted his account, but if there’s one thing we know about Brown, it’s that he never, ever learns from his mistakes.

 

In November, Bret Easton Ellis, the once-famous novelist, was so incredulous that an individual with lady parts could garner legitimate accolades, he insisted director Kathryn Bigelow owes her career to being “hot.” He later issued a quasi apology, saying, “Were the Kathryn Bigelow tweets really that bad given the context they were tweeted in? The idea that some people thought I was becoming a ‘shit-stirrer’ was not only inaccurate, but failed to ‘get’ the context of Twitter,” and then wisely announced he was taking a social media break.

 

When Barack Obama visited Newtown, Connecticut, after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Cristina Hassinger posted a photo of the president with her baby daughter. Her mother, principal Dawn Hochsprung, had been shot and killed trying to protect her students. It’s a defining image of the year.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>