The 2010s: A Decade in Review

Tejas Vadali
Co-Managing Editor
As the end of the decade approaches, some time for introspection is in order. The 2010s have seen college-bound seniors grow from children to adults. They have seen the rises and falls of countless internet trends that have catalyzed mass media beyond belief. They have factionalized entire populations with political outcomes and civil turmoil. Without further ado, here are the 2010s: a decade in review.
2010: The Year of Environmental Disaster
In January of 2010, the Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai, U.A.E., making the 2700 foot-high structure the world’s tallest human-made creation. Additionally, Apple released the iPad in the Spring of 2010. These were just about the only things in human control until the end of the year. Throughout 2010, massive earthquakes devastated Haiti, Indonesia, China, and Chile. On top of this, repeated volcanic eruptions killed hundreds in Java, and record-setting monsoons devastated populations in Pakistan. Perhaps one of the most notable disasters was the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which spilled nearly 130 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Towards the end of the year, however, the world’s attention turned to a new issue: the beginning of civil protests in the Middle East that would come to be known as the Arab Spring.
2011: The Year of Civil Unrest
With the Arab Spring underway, the Middle East saw the beginnings of unprecedented political upheavals in 2011. The year saw massive changes in power across the region, most notably in Egypt and Libya. The protests signaled a new wave of Middle Eastern leaders focused on human rights and committed to dismantling oppressive regimes. Politics in the United States, though not as revolutionary, saw action as well. In January, a shooter in Tucson, Arizona killed or injured eighteen people, one of whom was U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In the Executive branch, after facing criticism over his citizenship, President Obama agreed to release his birth certificate to the public, and his popularity soon skyrocketed with the assassination of Osama bin Laden just one month later. In other news, a global crisis arose with the explosion of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, and Apple’s founder Steve Jobs passed away at 56.
2012: The Year of Governmental Revolution
The Arab Spring now in full swing, more Middle Eastern nations began to see political revolutions. With Hosni Mubarak having been ousted in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi became the new President, much to the chagrin of the Egyptian people. And in the midst of the political turmoil in the Middle East, rebel fighters destroyed the United States’ consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and sending the United States into a political frenzy. At the same time, President Obama was vying for reelection, which he won over Mitt Romney in a contested election. Also in the United States, December of 2012 saw the Sandy Hook Shooting, the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting to date. Globally, China named its new president, Xi Jinping, and the Summer Olympics took place in London.
2013: The Year of Computer Culture
While major global events such as the Boston Marathon Bombing and the death of Nelson Mandela took place in 2013, it really was a year dominated by internet trends and social media. After being acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, Instagram became one of the most prominent social media outlets after enabling video sharing in 2013. Bursting onto the social media scene was Vine, a short-video platform created in January of 2013 that quickly acquired a massive following. Also in 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents elucidating the U.S. government’s mass surveillance efforts. By the end of the year, internet culture predominated, and Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis’ song “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)” exploded on media platforms across the world.
2014: The Year of Media Harnessing
Aided by such up-and-coming social media platforms as Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat, individuals used the internet to amplify their voices on some of the biggest issues of 2014. As an Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, activists sought support for the pandemic over social media. In the Middle East, a growing terrorist organization called ISIS was harnessing social media platforms to gain a following from nations around the world. And in the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement used social media to help organize protests in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the strangulation of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. In sports, both the Sochi Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil occurred, and in other news, comedians Robin Williams and Joan Rivers both passed away in 2014.
2015: The Year of Opposite Sentiments
Much of 2015 saw radical contrasts of love and hate. The fiery language of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was contrasted with the hopeful, uplifting words that Pope Francis echoed in his visit to the United States. The joy felt after the landmark verdict in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court case that legalized same-sex marriage, was stifled by refusals by county clerks across the United States to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And the heroism of a few American tourists in stopping an attack on a train in Belgium was met with terror attacks in France, such as the one at the offices of the publication Charlie Hebdo. In sports news, Tom Brady faced criticism for “Deflategate,” and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its first FIFA World Cup since 1999.
2016: The Year of the Unexpected Outcomes
In nearly every facet of society–sports, politics, and even criminal justice–something unthinkable occurred. After his escape from prison the year before, notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was finally caught and placed in a supermax prison in Colorado. After 108 years of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to the Cleveland Indians to win the 2016 MLB World Series. And in perhaps the most shocking and polarizing upset of the decade, an outcome that would set the stage for the coming years, Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. Presidential election.
2017: The Year of the Media Maelstrom
A year into office, President Trump had already mired the United States’ government in a media firestorm, raising concerns of Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election. Another man facing media outrage was Harvey Weinstein, a renowned Hollywood magnate accused of sexually assaulting countless women. Weinstein’s accuser’s began the global #MeToo movement. Another man sparking a movement was the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of social injustice against African Americans, a move that drummed up large amounts of both controversy and support.
2018: The Year of Trials and Violence
Most headlines in 2018 featured either a notable trial or a mass shooting. “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” topping the box office with glowing reviews was perhaps the greatest news of the year. Larry Nasser, a former Team USA gymnastics physician was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for sexual abuse, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was put on trial for sexual assault. In February of 2018, Nikolas Cruz perpetrated the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. This attack was followed by shootings at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas and a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
2019: The Year of Political Endpoints
2019 saw numerous last straws in the political world. Unable to reach a deal on Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom stepped down, leaving former London Mayor Boris Johnson as her successor. Citizens of Hong Kong took to the streets after China passed a bill to allow the extradition of people to mainland China in order to stand trial, an act that those in Hong Kong feared would significantly jeopardize their autonomy. Lastly, 2019 saw President Donald Trump become just the third U.S. President to be impeached, and although Trump’s impeachment may not pass in the Senate, it certainly seems a fitting end to the hectic climate that has come to define the 2010s.