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5 moments that broke the internet in 2022

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

The world just keeps getting weirder... or at least that’s what you might think after a few minutes on the internet.

In celebration of 2022 (finally) coming to an end, we’ve picked out five moments that broke the internet and looked into what made each one so gossip-worthy online.

1. Lettuce vs Downing Street

It’s bound to be an A-level history exam question in a few decades time.

2022 saw the UK go through THREE different Prime Ministers, with Liz Truss making the record for shortest ever time in the post with just 44 days of leading the country.

However, while the political elite were playing musical chairs at Number 10, the country was more focused on a now-famous vegetable. The Daily Star employed incredible foresight by setting up a live stream which pitted Truss vs a head of lettuce, asking which one will last longest.

As we all know now, the lettuce won the competition, having barely wilted before Truss stepped aside for Rishi Sunak to have his go in the top seat. Is it fair to say that from now on every British leader will live in fear of being bested by a salad base? Only time will tell.

2. What does 'offside' mean?

The FIFA World Cup turns billions of people across the globe into football fanatics every four years, and the 2022 tournament, hosted by Qatar, was no exception.

Of course, cheering for your country is simple, but some of the finer details of the game are a little harder for the casual footy fan to understand. If you need proof of this, all you have to do is look at search trends in the run up to the first game. For example, take a look at the search volume for ‘what is offside’ over the past year:

Search volume for 'What is offside' over the past 12 months (Image: Google Trends)
Search volume for 'What is offside' over the past 12 months (Image: Google Trends)

That massive spike in November is just before the start of the World Cup.

And it isn’t just the offside rules which has left people scratching their heads. Some avid supporters seemed to even struggle with the location of the World Cup. Here’s the search volume for ‘Where is Qatar?’ in the run up to the tournament:

Search volume for 'Where is Qatar' over the past 12 months (Image: Google Trends)
Search volume for 'Where is Qatar' over the past 12 months (Image: Google Trends)

3. The great Twitter exodus

This year saw plenty of people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, but the squeeze didn’t seem to impact Elon Musk, who was able to buy Twitter for $44 billion (£35.8 billion). Immediately after the massive purchase, the (now former) richest man on earth went about making changes to the platform that not everyone was happy with.

We won’t go into all of them here, but the change that seemed to cause the most backlash was Musk’s initiative to start charging users for a blue verification tick on their account. Some users decided to make their opinions heard by announcing their intention to leave Twitter after Musk’s purchase, with many moving to rival (but much smaller) micro-blogging site Mastodon.

More than 70,000 new users joined the platform the day after Musk announced he’d purchased Twitter on October 27. Bot Sentinel, which tracks Twitter users, also estimates that more than 800,000 accounts were deactivated between 27 October and 1 November.

4. King Charles and the age of technology

Queen Elizabeth II reigned as the British sovereign for 70 years, living through an incredible array of social and technological changes. When the Queen ascended to the throne in 1952 few people in the UK had TVs in their home, only seeing her image in newspapers. King Charles’s first days as head of state was a stark contrast to this, with thousands of well-wishers filming him on their phones and sharing the encounter on social media.

It’s also fair to assume no one asked the Queen if she would like to ‘get a beer’ with them, like they did with King Charles.

The King was interacting with crowds this year when Andrew Gould shouted above the noise, asking ‘Charles, can we go for a beer?’. Rather than rebuff the suggestion, Charles replied with his own tongue-in-cheek question: ‘Where?’

The clip was widely shared online, with commenters pointing out that the new King displayed a dry wit similar to his late mother.

5. The slap streamed around the world

The Oscars generate a huge amount of digital buzz every year, but any on-the-night gossip usually upstages envelops being opened. 2022 was no different, with a collision between Will Smith, host Chris Rock and a poorly-timed (or poorly-received, depending on whose side you’re on) joke giving the ceremony what was possibly the most controversial moment in the awards’ history.

After Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, Smith approached the stage and slapped him. #Slapgate quickly started trending on Twitter, while a video of the incident became the UK’s top trending YouTube video of 2022, with more than 100 million views. Even now, when you Google ‘Oscars 2022’, you’re given the suggested search term of ‘Oscars 2022 the slap’, proving how the incident dominated the awards.

(In case you’re interested, the film CODA won Best Picture.)


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