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12 Stories That Defined 2022

The people, events, and disruptions that shaped 2022 and the articles that Pocket users saved to make sense of them—from the unstable economy and Russia’s war in Ukraine, to the start of ‘quiet quitting’ and the end of Roe v. Wade.

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2022 threw a lot at us—a war disrupting the world order, legal fights reshaping electoral politics, and a pandemic that just won’t quit. To make sense of it all, Pocket users saved a lot of articles. We dug through the year’s most-saved and -read stories to uncover 12 defining storylines and identified a must-read article for each. Together, they make up the story of what it was like to experience 2022, told through the articles in our Pockets.

The Invasion That Shook the World: “Was It Inevitable? A Short History of Russia’s War on Ukraine”

Keith Gessen
The Guardian

Alex Dalenberg, Staff Recommendations Editor: “It’s hard to believe that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine happened only this year, because, in so many ways, it feels like we’re now living in a different century. The war has shattered longstanding assumptions about the stability of the global order, upended supply chains worldwide, and left tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians dead, and millions more homeless. During the first few incomprehensible weeks of fighting, Pocket readers turned to this indispensable guide from Russian-born American novelist Keith Gessen to make sense of the largest European conflict since World War II.”

Further Reading: Ukraine’s Past and Present Intertwine as a War Historian Seeks Refuge by Mari Saito for Reuters. Inside Zelensky’s World by Simon Shuster for Time.

Extreme Heat: “This Hot Summer Is One of the Coolest of the Rest of Our Lives”

Andrea Thompson
Scientific American

Kimi Goffe, Recommendations Editor: “It was another hot summer around the world. The sweltering, in some cases record-breaking, temperatures once again intensified the reality of climate change in our everyday lives. But as this Scientific American article notes, ‘temperatures that make big news today may seem ho-hum—even relatively cool—within a couple of decades,’ as average summer heat increases. Even if—and it’s a big if—we take swift, effective climate action, ‘we will still have to live in a hotter climate than we did in the past.’”

Further Reading: Beyond Catastrophe: A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View by David Wallace-Wells for The New York Times Magazine.

The “End” Of the Pandemic?: “The Pandemic’s Legacy Is Already Clear”

Ed Yong
The Atlantic

Amy Maoz, Staff Recommendations Editor: “Pocket’s top story of 2020 was Ed Yong’s How the Pandemic Will End. Two years later, people are still waiting to find out. Here, Yong takes stock of the biggest lessons learned and ignored, ultimately noting that ‘in furiously racing to rebuild on this same foundation, America sets itself up to collapse once more.’”

Further Reading: The ‘Five Pandemics’ Driving 1 Million U.S. Covid Deaths by J. Emory Parker for STAT. The Mystery of Why Some People Don’t Get Covid by Grace Browne for WIRED.

Economic Uncertainty: “Once-in-a-Generation Wealth Boom Ends for America’s Middle Class”


AD: “Nobody knew quite what to make of the economy this year, but if vibes were a leading indicator, they would be trending downward. Although job growth and consumer spending remained surprisingly strong, the pain of soaring inflation and rising interest rates left many Americans deeply apprehensive about what the future holds.”

Further Reading: Our Sticker Shock Economy: Understanding Inflation in Pocket Collections.

Democracy’s Crucible: “Election Deniers Were Among the Biggest Losers of the 2022 Midterms”

Charlotte Alter

Carolyn O’Hara, Head of Content Discovery: “This was the year when more than just election nerds cared about who was running for secretary of state in places like Arizona and Michigan. These typically low-profile officials and other bureaucrats manage the usually tedious process of election administration. But this being 2022, their roles put them on the front lines of protecting the machinery of American democracy from those who might undermine it. That’s why it was so heartening that voters in key swing states—including many who crossed party lines—refused to hand the levers of power over to conspiracy theorists who campaigned on lies that the 2020 election was stolen. For at least the midterms, democracy held firm—but it’s anyone’s guess how long it holds.”

Further Reading: I’ve Been Way More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now by Richard L. Hasen for Slate. Down the Rabbit Hole: Why People Fall for Conspiracy Theories by the News Literacy Project in Pocket Collections.

The Scourge of Gun Violence: “From Sandy Hook to Buffalo and Uvalde: Ten Years of Failure on Gun Control”

The Washington Post

AM: ”One topic you’ll see on this list of year-defining stories and in our What We’ll Still Be Talking About in 2023 collection is the unstoppable scourge of gun violence. Unstoppable feels like a bombastic descriptor, but even after this Washington Post article was published, and some of the largest and most effective gun control legislation was passed, America has continued to rack up near-daily mass shootings and preventable gun deaths at an unacceptable rate.”

Further Reading: Gun Person by Andrew Howard for Guernica. The Most Powerful Story The Onion Ever Wrote by Angela Watercutter for WIRED.

Going Beyond Burnout: “What Comes After Ambition?”

Ann Friedman

AM: “Is anyone sad to wave goodbye to the hustle culture that, as Jia Tolentino put it in 2017, ‘celebrates working yourself to death?’ This year, some of this generation’s most talented writers—Ann Friedman, Rachel Hislop, Beyoncé—examined the cultural shift away from the work-is-everything mentality. As Friedman writes, ‘the task isn’t letting go of ambition altogether. It’s relocating those ambitions beyond the traditional markers of money, title, and professional recognition.’”

Further Reading: The Rise of the Anti-Work Movement by Brian O’Connor for BBC. “It’s Not Just Burnout:” How Grind Culture Failed Women by Rachel Hislop in Pocket Collections.

Roe v. Wade Overturned: “20 Ways the Supreme Court Just Changed America”


CO: “On the scale of U.S. political earthquakes, the Dobbs decision in June was the Big One—the case that remaps the electoral and healthcare landscape for decades. This wide-ranging Politico package of essays from historians, healthcare experts, and activists from across the political spectrum offers a look at what’s been already irrevocably altered—and best guesses at the many aftershocks to come.”

Further Reading: The Woman Who Killed Roe by Kerry Howley for The Cut. Where Americans Stand On Abortion, In 5 Charts by Jean Yi and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux for FiveThirtyEight.

Big Tech’s Reckoning: “The End of Silicon Valley’s 20-Year Boom”

Timothy B. Lee

CO: “The chill in Silicon Valley right now has nothing to do with the weather. The mass layoffs across much of the tech sector this fall suggest that investors are finally demanding companies focus on profits over growth, a shift that will likely change the internet as we know it. As Timothy B. Lee concludes, ‘Software will have to eat something else.’”

Further Reading: A Tweet Before Dying by Paul Ford for WIRED.

Depp v. Heard: “Which Women Do We Choose to Believe?”

Claire Lampen
The Cut

KG: “Five years after the #MeToo movement began, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s defamation trial showed us what had changed in our culture’s response to a woman holding a powerful man to account. The answer was, as Claire Lampen explains, ‘a sobering reminder that a victim’s credibility is still a fragile thing.’”

Further Reading: Monica Lewinsky’s Verdict on the Johnny Depp–Amber Heard Trial: We Are All Guilty by Monica Lewinsky for Vanity Fair. Bad Reputation by Lila Shapiro for Intelligencer.

Britain Mourns: “The Queen Who Defined an Era”

Pocket Collections

AD: “The United Kingdom has undergone seismic changes over the past 70 years, but through it all, the one constant has been Queen Elizabeth II. She served as a living link to Britain’s past. Her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was born in 1874. Her last, the ill-fated Liz Truss, in 1975. There’s a lot to unpack there, but suffice it to say that the second Elizabethan age drew to a close at a moment of turmoil for her kingdom. Alas, the only true constant is change.”

Further Reading: ‘I Cannot Mourn’: Former Colonies Conflicted Over the Queen by Cara Anna, Danica Coto, and Rodney Muhumuza for the Associated Press. The U.K. Will Have 5 Prime Ministers in Just 6 Years. What's Gone Wrong? by Frank Langfitt for NPR.

The Struggle for Trans Rights: “Kris Wilka Just Wants to Play Football”

P.E. Moskowitz

AD: “Over the past two years, state lawmakers have introduced at least 306 bills targeting trans people,. The vast majority of these bills are focused on trans youth, including laws restricting how gender and sexuality can be taught in school and bans on gender-affirming care for minors. I can only imagine how much courage it takes in the face of this kind of cruel and mean-spirited campaign just to be who you are. This moving article by P.E. Moskowitz tells the story of one teen who’s doing just that.”

Further Reading: The Euphoria of Eliot Page by Elliot Page for Esquire. Book Banning in U.S. Schools Has Reached an All-Time High: What This Means, and How We Got Here by Christian Thorsberg, Matt Stiles, and Anna Dee for Grid.

Pocket’s Top Articles of 2022


Explore the most-saved stories of the the year, and the ones we’ll still be talking about in 2023. Plus, discover the best long reads, smart advice, and entertaining culture writing that Pocket readers loved this year.