For me, 2011 seems to be one of the most profound years in the history of my lifetime.

The expansion of technology seems to be growing at an exponential rate. Everyone’s developing some kind of app or device meant to do everything for us. Revolutions began at the cusp of 140 characters, and Mother Nature seemed to be really (I mean really) pissed at us.

These events were not isolated. It could be said that the Arab Spring may have indirectly provided the spark for the Occupy movements worldwide. My niece turned 1 in the beginning of this year, and she probably has no idea that she’s lived through so much. This list could be expanded to include what you think is the most memorable moment of 2011, but these are mine. The world was supposed to end in May, but mankind stuck around for these life-changing events to be remembered forever.

1) The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami – I couldn’t even imagine the feeling of living in Japan when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake devastated scores of people throughout the region. The worst part was it just kept getting worse. After having lost loved ones and everything they owned, residents had to start worrying about radioactivity from a failing nuclear power plant. Across the Pacific, communities throughout Southern California held vigils and collected supplies to help. Worldwide, the dialogue regarding nuclear energy shifted. The effects of the earthquake and tsunami reverberated to all corners of the globe and probably beyond our lifetime.

2) Post 9/11 – I’m cheating on this one because I’m lumping two important events that offer a partial closure to the events of Sept. 11, 2001: The death of Osama bin Laden and the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. When 9/11 happened, I was a freshman in high school, on the opposite side of the country. My friend told me (incorrectly) that it was Trump Tower that was hit, which pretty much shows how unaware I was of the events unfolding; events that would change everything. Ten years later I remember it was at this point that my awareness of U.S. policy, economics, fear and death seemed to taint the happy-go-lucky innocence of my childhood. Ten years later, Osama bin Laden was finally caught, and in cheers we all chanted, “USA! USA! USA!” It was a bittersweet moment to be an American.

3) The Arab Spring – I was, in all honesty, only a spectator of this event. But the way it played out seemed to mimic the occurrences only seen in my history books. I remember I was taught that revolutions can spread like wildfire around the globe, as people see the fervor, passion and success against oppression in one country are inspired to do the same in their own homeland. News reports say that one man who set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest against the government was the spark for protests in Egypt and other countries across the globe. It really does make for a good metaphor. Everyone around the world watched in sheer awe at thousands of people successfully coming together with the help, of all things, social media.

Yup, the same mediums we used to tag our friends drinking and to tweet the latest updates about Lady Gaga were actually being used for something far more important. The outside world relied on the personal messages sent from the protest, pictures of bloody battles against police to know what was going on and how to help. It was so pervasive the Egyptian government shut down the Internet. We saw how that turned out.

4) The death of Steve Jobs – This guy was like the Walt Disney of my lifetime. At his passing, the whole world mourned, their iPads and iPhones lit in vigil. His leadership made Apple the catalyst for how we live. No, this is not a bold statement, especially if you’re using an Apple product to read this. He was the music-maker, the dreamer of the dream – changing the world forever. It begs the question: Who will be the next Steve Jobs? As he said in his Stanford commencement speech: “[Death is] life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

So here’s to 2012.