Looking Back on 2015

What a year…

I’m not a very educated person, so forgive me if this article comes off as brash, or stupid, or ignorant, or any of the many things that perhaps one sounds like when one isn’t very educated on political and social matters. The truth is that I stopped being into political and social matters when I was still in high school, mostly because I gave into cynicism - that seductive, chic way of looking at the world when you’re a teenager that makes life simple.

People are shitty. The world is shitty. Don’t stick your nose in other people’s shit, but if you have to then make smug comments about them so you can feel and look superior with your wit and knowledge about you, despite the fact you probably don’t know much about them and probably gave less thought to their situation than you did time to materializing your oh-so-topical comment.

Like I said: seductive.

Maximum social benefit with little effort, a lazy person’s dream in a world where everyone’s scrambling for their five minutes of fame and when they get it they find themselves scrambling for a minute or two more. The alternative is, of course, saccharine feel-good comments made with little, if any, insight toward the actual issues at-hand and mainly to pacify followers and friends on social media who’ve tired of the cynical flavor and would like some idealism, thank you very much.

But I digress. The above is totally unrelated to the article title.

I just figured, hey, 2015 is ending in a few hours, and I have some time to kill, so why not go over why this year has been so morose and yet, somehow, encouraging? There are worse ways to kill the time.

So let’s start with the morose bits.

In 2015, the media seemed to be occupied by both tragedy and triviality. That is, of course, a trivial observation: media’s been on this predictable downturn for many years now and it’s no different in the middle of this decade. Yellow journalism is as popular as ever, and click-bait headlines flood the Facebook news feeds as though Mr. Hearst himself was still alive and kicking, eager to twist the next big news story for a quick cash grab to sell more papers.

There were a bunch of terrorism/geopolitical-related shootings and bombings in 2015, so if you’re from the United States, France, Lebanon, or Kenya (or from any one of the numerous countries or sites unfortunate enough not to get much social media coverage, apologies to you on behalf of the rest of the internet), then you can contemplate that. Of course these have been commented on before, with the same cynicism and sugary-syrup that awaits us whenever we log onto our social media site of choice. Facebook even managed to turn it into a bit of a contest as to who could show off how topical they were by offering a profile-pic overlay to commemorate the victims of France.

I, obviously, participated. The cynic in me couldn’t resist sucking up those Likes by slapping a bit of blue, white, and red on my profile picture.

Reduced to a washed-out overlay…

How outraged some of those victims must feel now, that there are individuals the world over who are using this overlay who haven’t the faintest idea what was happening in France.

Or perhaps merely helpless, watching themselves get sucked into a social media trend and then promptly forgotten a week after as these temporary profile pictures revert back to normal. Only one or two of your friends will ever be posting about the event in the ensuing months through sharing of topical videos and written content, and most of you will ignore it. I know I did, for the most part.

Forgive me, that was needlessly cynical and depressing. Perhaps instead we should discuss the US political candidacy…

A literal circus…

Or perhaps not. The Democrats are vying between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders: Corporate America’s favorite daughter with the experience of a former President and a decent record herself as Secretary of State backing her up against the people’s candidate, a social democrat with dreams of free education and a sane foreign policy which are obviously going to cost the US a nickel-and-dime in raised taxes.

I support the latter, in case anyone was curious about my opinion.

Then of course you have your choice of GOP candidates… Oh, wait, there’s only one really leading the polls and that’s Donald Trump. The rest appear to have given up or dropped out: Carson is gone, as is Graham, and Jeb Bush is putting up a pathetic fight against America’s favorite racist, sexist, ignorant, toupee-wearing son.

This year’s candidacy is a literal circus and I must say with some delight that I look forward to seeing how things turn out come the end of the primaries and the beginning of the national polls.

So is there anything good to talk about?

I suppose not. I mean, I guess we could talk about how things are going personally. I did promise I’d tell you why 2015 was so encouraging as well as why it was so morose and depressing, so I guess I should get to the nice, sugary part so we can ring in 2016 with a smile, no matter how hollow.

Everyone grew a little in 2015. I don’t write that trite-sounding comment lightly: no matter who you are and what you did, surely you learned something. Maybe you spend 2015 mostly lit and you learned a thing or two about moderation; maybe you didn’t, and you’re gonna spend 2016 mostly lit as well. On the bright side, at least you learned something about how to get properly lit, how to recover quickly, and how to give your body at least a little care and attention so you don’t fall apart by 2017 and have to get six organ transplants.

I know I grew a little. In hindsight, 2015's most encouraging highlight for me was what I learned — about college, about relationships, and about… living. As ridiculously-Hallmark as that sounds, I’m sure you and I and many others reading this or just going through their lives, plodding along to 2016, learned a thing or two from their experiences about what it means to be alive. Through surviving 2015, we all affirmed a sort of existentialism… Feeling and sensing things first, and then going to sort them out and imposing meaning on them later. But maybe that’s just my romantic, philosophical side talking.

So I dunno, did I disappoint with that promise of good and bad earlier? Maybe I did; maybe I wasted five or ten minutes of your time. You let me know.

All I know is, going into 2016, 2015 was bittersweet. Depressing, yet uplifting; bright as well as bleak.

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