Pull Yourself Out of The Dumpster Fire That is 2016 (and take me with you)
2016 has been awful for some many reasons. Popular culture figures that helped shape my thinking growing up — Bowie, Lee, Rickman, Cohen, Baker, Aherne, Ali, Wood — all passed away. Globally we have seen the far-Right rise and the onward step of Daesh. In Britain we had the dreaded “Brexit” that cut across class, age and political affiliation and exposed the horror that we Brits had been keeping covered up with binge drinking and doilies, we’re a complicated and often contradictory people, since we gave Cromwell got the heave ho.
In America we had an election saturated in rape allegations, sexual assault brags and bare faced lies. It resulted in a candidate who got 2.5 million fewer votes than his main competitor being given the win because of a system he described in 2012 as a “disaster”. A president-elect who routinely makes personal attacks on citizens he will soon he swearing an oath to represent and protect and who has skin thinner than a 92 year old made out of actual crepe paper. He has shown his inexperience and senior conservative thought leaders in the media, Washington and beyond are already turning on him for the capitulation he showed regarding the Carrier deal and the sheer oddness of the Taiwan call. It’s almost like politics has its own rules and paradigms, and its not just something any one can do, no matter how arrogant or entitled they are…..
But its not like this is the first year that this kind of horror has befallen humanity, so much so every other so called think piece has a certain secondary school history textbook vibe but with less balance. Trump/Wilders/Le Pen’s rise is like Hitler, Kim Kasdashian’s the new Cleopatra, “You Won’t Believe What Links Little Mix and Benito Mussolini” etc etc.
2002 saw Joe Strummer and Richard Harris die but Oprah Winfrey Wins The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
1933 saw Dachau concentration camp opens but The Blaine Act was passed
Years pass and things happen. Try and remember that 2106 saw the release of an excellent Radiohead album and Leicester City defy the odds in the Premier League.
Its time to get perspective, looking at everything through an Anglo-western filter that ends in the 1970s means that of course things will look bad, because you have so little data to give you real context.
I guarantee people in 1665 were having a worse time than this with The Plague, so much so the following year’s Great Fire of London was a blessed relief. Its about perspective and an acceptance that life has ebs and flows that no one can totally control but if you’re lucky enough to live in a Western democracy you have at least have your grievance heard, and being heard is the first step to getting something changed.
Now I’m not suggesting I’m doing this, far from it. See the title of this piece. Smell the feted whiff of desperation in every sentence. There’s a cloying need for help through every paragraph but I’m not too proud to admit I need a helping hand. If you’re in a position to help, please do. If you’re in need of help please ask. We live in strange times, and it will take its toll.
I’d like to level some blame for the damage the current news cycle is doing at the way we consume news. Don’t worry about ‘fake news’, don’t even worry about Breitbart, while widely shared this is a media echo chamber. Far more importantly look at the way our news streams have become more conflicted and flattened, on a single screen you can see something as serious as “Chancellor Merkel calls for ban on burqa” right next to something as diverting and fluffy as “Beyonce is nominated for 9 Grammy's” — these are not equal, these are ailment and medicine on the same spoon and the combination is more toxic than either in isolation.
We need to be kinder to each other, kinder to ourselves and remember where to draw the limits of worry, or there won’t we anyone left to pull us from the dumpster fire and help unfuck the world in 2017,