"Don't know who Rodney King is but we share the same last name," Raymond King, a self-described "semipro gamer," wrote on Twitter. "R.I.P."
King's death was certainly not the first to baffle Twitter users. Television icon Dick Clark, author Ray Bradbury, Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, disco queen Donna Summer, CBS News interviewer Mike Wallace, "Where The Wild Things Are" author Maurice Sendak, Beastie Boy rapper Adam Yauch and hairdresser Vidal Sassoon—all of whom died this year—ended up cycling through the microblogging service in a similar manner:
1. Death is reported 2. News of death spreads 3. Name begins trending on Twitter 4. Name preceded by "Who is" begins trending on Twitter 5. Backlash against ignorant users responsible for "Who is" trend ensues
"I get the feeling I'm going to be slaughtered for saying this," Rhys Kelly tweeted after Gibb's death. "But who is/was Robin Gibb?"
Shockingly enough, there is an absolutely gigantic amount of people on Twitter who don't know who someone or something is. Today it's Dick Clark.
"Yes, there are those who don't know about Clark," Jen Chung wrote on LAist.com. "But to be fair, some aren't American and Clark was an American pop culture figure. And the young aren't as familiar with him, because he's only really been on TV lately as the New Year's Rockin' Eve host—and in limited segments."
Of course, it's not just death that exposes Twitter's generational divide—anniversaries of historical news events show it as well.
"Wait!" user Sue D. wrote. "Titanic really happened? I thought it was just a movie."
"Guys, the Titanic was real!" @BabyDoe22 wrote. "#mindblown."
"I think the reason why bigger events exposes the divide is because people just want to participate in the conversation," Chung told Yahoo News. "They want to have a say, even though they might not have anything to say."
"People not knowing about the Titanic probably says more about gaps in the education system than gaps between generations," Lamb said. "But Dick Clark's death does expose that the cultural touch-points we take for granted aren't familiar everywhere."