2013: The Year of Twerking and Selfies

It has become a customary ritual during the waning days of every year. And as 2013 is poised to become history, like clockwork, folks are reflecting on the people, events, and trends that have made the past 12 months unique.

While having its share of politics and news of great significance, 2013, it seems, has had a curiously high percentage of catchy words and phrases. In my humble opinion, the following two entries are the most memorable:


Hands down, “twerking” wins the award for generating the most news, social networking talk, and controversy during 2013. The Urban Dictionary defines a twerk as ‘the rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in ones intended audience’.

Pop singer Miley Cyrus and her infamous, and, shall I say, abominable, performance at this year’s VMA music award program catapulted the term into the national lexicon.

Due to my general lack of knowledge of contemporary pop culture, Cyrus’ performance, which was shown on seemingly every media outlet capable of playing video, was my first exposure to the term. My teenage sons, however, say they knew about twerking long before her performance last August.


While not quite as earth-shattering as “twerking”, the entry “selfie” has made some significant headlines during the last year. The Urban Dictionary describes a selfie as ‘a picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, MySpace or any other sort of social networking website.’ The picture of me on the right, which I’ve used as profile pic on Facebook, is an example.

The term gained a national audience when President Obama was caught snapping one with other world leaders attending the recent funeral for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Within hours after its release, Obama’s selfie went viral, and his political opponents saw quickly another way to score some partisan points over his supposed narcissism. (First Lady Michelle’s body language in the pic suggested she was bothered, and this also lent fuel to the fire.)

Again, it wasn’t until the incident at Mandela’s funeral until I learned about the term, selfie. On the other hand, I suspect millenials have known about selfies for quite some time.