It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. But really, though. If I had to pick a word that I felt has summed up 2017, “dichotomy” is the first one that comes to mind.
Like many folks, I entered 2017 with a sense of dread. We — well, the Electoral College — had just elected a lunatic. I was certain this was going to be a lesson we were going to learn the hard way. It wasn’t entirely clear how Donald Trump was going to ruin the world, just that he would.
As it turns out, “lunatic” may have been too kind a word for Trump. Lunatics are crazy, but they tend to get things done. In contrast, Trump has gotten almost nothing done. We’ll see what happens with tax reform, but so far it has been nothing but big promises and zero deliveries. The level of incompetence is actually quite amazing, to be honest. Even more amazing is that I take solace in this fact.
Trump is not a lunatic but a buffoon. And it’s his buffoonery that has thus far saved us from any immediate pain.
But let’s be clear: It absolutely sucks to have a buffoon in office. Our highest office, no less. Again, because we’re getting nothing done. It feels like America is in a state of stasis. It’s becoming more and more clear that we’re going to have four “lost years” where the only takeaway was distraction after distraction. It’s extremely depressing.
At the same time, because Trump has bunglefucked the plans of the powers that actually be to use him as a vessel to instill some weird new world order, it’s allowing for business as usual for many of us.
While plenty of people spent the first part of the year getting bogged down in Trumpian bullshit, it seems like most competent people have now resigned themselves to realizing the actual state of play, and so are just continuing on. It’s hard to ignore Trump given the power he wields, but those who realize he’s incapable of getting out of his own way will just keep doing what they do and waiting this out.
And that’s what I feel like I largely see as we end 2017. Sure, Silicon Valley may be a bubble, but in this particular case, for better and worse, the membrane is keeping this particular type of bullshit largely out (while, yes, keeping our own particular type of bullshit largely in).
That is to say, people are still mainly doing amazing things on a day-to-day basis. I get to meet with many such folks daily, and it’s a great mind cleanse from the aforementioned buffoonery.
Everything isn’t perfect, of course — far from it. For one, there’s a seemingly ever-increasing cluelessness and arrogance in many facets of our industry. But it continues to remain easier than ever to do something profound with technology, and that progress continues unabated.
Might the plan to appeal net neutrality change that? Perhaps. But given the year we’ve all just lived through, the fact that we’re still pushing forward gives me some hope.
Look, our country made a mistake. Half the population may not see it now, but history will not look kindly on this lapse of judgment. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it will be momentary. Taking a step back, would you rather be living in our current world or the world at war a hundred years ago? A country just emerged from war 150 years ago?
And so I return to that word “dichotomy.” Many of us are still living on the edge under a completely unstable regime. And it’s absolutely fucking terrifying, if you stop to think about it. But this year has taught me to stop thinking about it as much — as reckless as that sounds — and instead focus on the things that aren’t changing. Which is quite a lot — again, something that is more a byproduct of incompetence rather than will.
Such resiliency gives me hope heading into 2018. I know everyone quotes Charles Dickens in times like these. But has it ever been so apt?
…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.