GTFO, 2016. And close the door behind you.
It’s time once again to bid farewell to a year – 366 days shoved into one concise package, that we wave out of the way in time to welcome the next batch in.
Nobody gets a year that goes entirely their way. There will always be several ups and downs, and the best anyone can hope for is that the ups make up for the downs. For every year I can remember, there has been a bunch of good memories that I cherished, and a bunch of bad memories that were difficult to get over. But that’s par for the course.
And then, there was 2016.
Oh, words aren’t invented for the kind of spite and contempt I hold for this smug, ungodly shitfest of a year. If 2016 had a physical form, I’d punch, kick, cut, slice, hang, shoot, burn, and dismember it, and then I’d start to torture it just to hear it whimper. Maybe that got a bit too dark a bit too soon. But just typing 2016 moves me to a dark place.
And 2016 did NOT have to be like that. In fact, 2016 gave me one of the most joyful events in my life – My son, my bundle of joy, was born this year. When I say that even that pinnacle of happiness didn’t tilt the scales in 2016’s favor, you know it’s been a bad, bad year.
When my son was born, I thought 2016 was trying to make amends – maybe a modest olive branch to say “Hey, I’m really sorry I’ve been a shitty year so far, but please take this peace offering, and know that I’ll try to be good from now on.” Like a sucker, I bought into that. My personal blessing was almost immediately countered with the most tragic event in my life so far – my mom’s untimely death.
2016 wasn’t extending an olive branch – It was taunting me. Mom was ecstatically looking forward to her time with her grandkid – time that she never got. Having her grandson so close, and yet so far away, made her sudden farewell even more tragic.
2016, you can go to hell.
As deep and scarring as my mom’s passing was, that was a personal tragedy. Charting 2016 as an objectively shitty year may demand a more global range of events. Thankfully, 2016 has left a trail of messes that earns it the title.
Where do I begin? I guess the best way would be to address the elephant in the room; the narcissistic, misogynistic, race-baiting, unprincipled, comically uninformed, orange-faced, taffy-haired elephant in the room. Let’s call that my trump card.
I’m not saying that his opponent in the 2016 race was a great choice – not by a long shot, but going head-to-head against Trump, she was better at almost all counts. She probably lost because of her own baggage, her misguided optimism, and her dismissal of a chunk of US citizens as unworthy of attention. But the fact remains that a fair size of the US public voted him in either because of, or in spite of, his obvious mountain of faults.
That’s a big thing – Humanity took a strong hit then. If it turns out that Putin actually did manipulate the election to get the perfect dummy to office, I’m actually going to be relieved – at least that lifts the blame off a large chunk of people. But I’m not hopeful. George Carlin’s words sting precisely because it echoes the truth – “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
In the world stage, Americans have long monopolized stupidity; from creationism to trickle down economics to reality show babies to gun nuts to being the only major country to not adopt the metric system. So it’s easy to blame the Trump phenomenon on the stereotypical ‘dumb ‘murican’.
However, several months ahead, Europeans had their own skirmish to reclaim stupidity – Armed with a litany of lies and fear-mongering, idiots in power engineered BREXIT, the cutesy name given to an economic and social catastrophe in the works. I would argue that with the Trump victory, US has regained the stupid, stupid throne, but it’s clear that other world powers are capable of stupidities as well.
Take India, for example. On the same day that the US regained the throne and propped an orangutan on it, India engineered a social and economic experiment that divided the nation – Charismatic prime minister Modi took a sudden decision to devalue 86% of the currency of a country that houses nearly a fifth of the world’s population, most of whom survive on cash transactions.
There are fans and detractors of the demonetization. Even if you take out the babble from the Modi fans who support it because it was a Modi initiative, and the Modi haters who fight it because it was a Modi initiative, you still have a lot of pros and cons for the act that can fill up hours of debate.
The demonetization didn’t pinch me at all – My friends and peers had only minor obstructions and delays to hurdle, so at first, I felt that the move was in the right direction, and only needed a better execution. However, with more articles I read – I noted that most economists and experts who studied the larger scale of the operation and how it affected rural communities are less optimistic about the initiative. It has affected the stock market, transportation, agriculture, and businesses of a vast majority of people while only being marginally successful at curbing black money (its original goal). On the whole, I’m currently leaning towards the ‘demon’ part of the demonetization gambit. And you can bet your life that I’m pinning that on 2016.
These are the biggest craptrosities of the year of the top of my head, but there were many, many more – Terrorists struck in Belgium, Germany, France, Berlin, and several other places, as terrorists are wont to do. France reacted by scaling up its Islamophobia and banning burqas in beaches. While the Syrian crisis didn’t start this year, I’d still blame 2016 for the most brutal periods of the war. Refugees from warn-torn nations were denied asylum by well-off countries who used that as an opportunity to fan racist tensions and Islamophobic hatred, blaming them of terrorist connections without any real evidence.
Which brings us to the intangible casualty – Facts. There is no real value to evidence anymore. Lies have always been part of the human landscape, but 2016 brought that to a whole new level. The hip and dangerous new thought is that one’s feelings and thoughts are just as valid as facts. If someone feels something is true, then we are urged to treat that as a valid evidence. It’s a strange new world. If I feel you’re a cow, but you bring out the fact that you are, demonstrably, not a cow – then we’re supposed to weight these as equals. Probably, we’ll end up compromising in the middle – I agree that on some days, you are not a cow, but on the other days, you agree that I can milk you dry.
And then, we have the deaths. Mohammed Ali, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey, John Glenn, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Anton Yelchin, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Garry Shandling, Gary Marshall – these are just some of the people that I happen to recognize and like – It’s almost as if the pop culture icons foresaw the innate shittiness of 2016 and just clocked out.
If you think 2016 was just being an un-ironic, non-sentient concept as shitty things happened, just look at Debbie Reynolds, the star of classics such as ‘Singing in the rain’, who died one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who was herself a star in the iconic ‘Star Wars’ franchise. They’re going to be buried together – that’s not just a random fluke. That’s the 2016 mojo in action.
If you’re still unconvinced, let me remind you that George Michael was found dead on Christmas Day. I doubt if there were any George Michael fans who heard that news and failed to link it to his iconic song ‘Last Christmas’. If you were one of those, well – WHAM. Now you get it.
If you need to look at further proof, I give you Fidel Castro and Abe Vigoda – For several decades, they have had more obituaries in the rumor mill than retractions. Abe Vigoda’s death has been falsely reported so many times they had to put up a website at abevigoda.com for the sole purpose of noting that he was alive. They survived dozens of individual false reports, but finally died at the cowardly hands of 2016.
2016 – Just… just get out of here. I’m soooo done with you. Pack up and leave. And punch yourself on your way out.
Happy New Year, everybody – 2017 can’t possibly turn out worse, can it?