About 2016

A lot of people are celebrating the demise of 2016 as if an arbitrary calendar event were the root of all the world’s problems. I agree that it’s been a pretty rough year in many ways, but…

The fact that many well-known celebrities died this year is not really all that unusual. What is unusual is that a few of these deaths were perhaps more unexpected and higher profile than the norm, which resulted in very intense scrutiny not just of the “big and newsworthy” deaths but of all the celebrity deaths that took place this year. And the rock and roll generation is aging, which means that (surprise!) a lot of its members will be dying over the next few years. It’s sad, but it’s also statistically unavoidable.

All these deaths probably did not have anything to do with Brexit or the catastrophic shitshow that was the 2016 American election cycle. It’s tempting to believe this because of the current state of media in the U.S. and worldwide, where a 24-hour “news” cycle has led to a form of pseudojournalism that is more about hype and perceived outrage and “sharability” than about actual facts or (Great Pumpkin forbid) context.

All in all, was 2016 really any demonstrably “worse” than any other year?

For Americans and Brits, maybe (although it may pale in comparison with 2017), but for most of the rest of the world, probably not. Which is not to say that it was a good year (ask any Syrian you run across) but that it was maybe not all that much worse than its predecessors in most cases.

And for some of us, it was pretty good on a personal level–at least when we weren’t thinking about politics or dead people. I made tenure this year and accomplished quite a lot, both personally and professionally. I travelled a lot, read good books, and ate decent food. And 2016 marked for me the first time in many years that i really felt like I had my shit together pretty danged well. I like myself a lot better than I ever have before. And that’s what I plan to concentrate on.

A lot of things really sucked this year and will really suck next year. The task at hand is to do what you can about it. but also to find your happiness where you can. New Year’s resolutions are kind of stupid in my book, but if you have to have one, that might be a good example.

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