Stops, Starts, and Stalls: A Look Back at 2010

Heady anticipation, angry frustration, and the buzz of a vuvuzela.

Welcome to a look back at 2010, a year of starts, stops, and stalls — and we’re not just talking about the auto recalls. These were tough times, yet some truly spectacular and innovative events happened.

Some things came to an overdue end, such as America formally ending its seven-year military involvement in Iraq. But the weekly online check-in to the unemployment office signaled how much of America remained stuck in place, although financial reforms, including new credit card laws, helped many regain control over their finances. People have become less frivolous in their guilty pursuits, even of celebrity scandals, but acquired a taste for the theatrical — perhaps all the better to escape. And while many put their heads down and worked away the hours, productivity did take a pause during one of the best sports years in a decade.

How to capture all this information, from the collective curiosity of a nation? Through the prism of Yahoo! Search, clear trends, anxieties, and passions emerged. (Find out how we did it). While the Top 10 Searches tallies up the most popular terms, the themes that dominated included natural disasters, survivor stories, workplace exits, financial uprisings, and marital scandals (and the wives who wouldn’t keep quiet). Even in hard times, people performed simple inspiring acts that rippled across the globe.

And there’s much more to come. Throughout December, Yahoo! Year in Review will touch on more stories (and lists) of head-turning moments, pet peeves, surprising truths, and familiar comforts. You’ll be amazed at what all of you did this year.

—Yahoo! Year in Review editorial lead for four years running, Vera H-C Chan dissects news events and search trends to share the why behind what’s hot online and in the media. Before Yahoo!, she worked as a features/A&E reporter for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers and magazines. Her writing can be found all over Yahoo!, including in Buzz Log, TV, Movies, and her Shine blog Fast-Talking Dame.