Even though we’ve reported this past week that, despite everything, life for humans is getting better all the time, it is fair to say that 2016 sucked. So as we prepare to face 2017, it’s worthwhile to take a look back and show everyone on the doll where 2016 hurt us.
There are, of course, the obvious reasons why 2016 was a malignant tumor of sadness and rage for most of the world. No matter who you are or what sort of entertainment you enjoy some iconic figure from that world died.
Love music? Then you likely mourned the loss of the likes of David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Debbie Reynolds, or others.
Love movies? Then you you likely mourned the loss of Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, or Gene Wilder. Love television? Well, you lost legends like Noel Neill, William Schallert, or Ron Glass.
Love sports? You said goodbye to Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Craig Sager, Bobby Chacon, or any of the younger athletes who passed away unexpectedly, like Jose Fernandez.
What about American icons? Then you said goodbye to Nancy Reagan, Morley Safer, and John Glenn.
While this may not have been the “worst” year for “celebrity deaths” the iconic nature of those who passed away–many at a relatively young age–definitely made 2016 one of them. Beyond the famous, there were other tragedies and deaths that captivated the nation, from the Oakland warehouse fire to the refugee crisis to the seemingly endless parade of people (civilians and cops) killed in confrontations with police.
Of course, there was plenty of other terrible things that happened this year. There was a rise in toxic nationalism and nativism that saw political victories for the Brexit movement and, of course, Donald Trump.
These sharp political divides have permeated almost every aspect of the culture. Hell, a politics editor tweeted a link to a porn site, and immediately the comments* devolved into political arguments.
Nowhere was this divide more prevalent and destructive than on social media. During and after the election, people ended friendships and/or stopped using social media altogether. The greatest tragedy of 2016 might be that it was the year that people gave up on those who disagree with them politically or, simply, don’t support the person they did.
The election poisoned everything it touched, and that toxicity bled into everything else, from the reaction to national tragedies (like the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting, the worst in U.S. history and another macabre victory-of-horribleness for this year) to almost everything else. During times when Americans used to come together despite differences, those differences became all we could see.
Was this year really “worse” than any other? Probably not. Still, feelings are powerful and the seed that this year was a cultural atrocity was planted early and spread like an invasive species of weed that smells like decomposing shit and renders the ground it occupies forever infertile.
All we can do now in these final hours of this stupid, awful year is look to the next one with the kind of foolish optimism that makes our species so interesting. The world will not be different in any way of consequence when the clock flips from 11:59 p.m. on December 31 to 12:00 a.m. on January 1. Yet, we think it can be, and that makes all the difference.
Happy New Year and, let’s all say it together, “Fuck you, 2016.”
What do you think? Share your memories (bad and, hopefully, some good) in the comments below.
*Author’s note: Who leaves comments on a porn video? Like, what could the purpose of that possibly be?
Featured image via screengrab