2016 and the idea of the “Terrible Year”

It has been quite a while, since I wrote something here. So apparently, I missed out on the US election for instance. But at the end of the year, people tend to look back at the twelve months that just gone by to conclude the year. What seems quite obvious, at least if I look at other people attempting the same thing, is that 2016 must have been a terrible year. Most people seem to agree on that and so do most media outlets. But maybe I should phrase it differently. Most media outlets seem to agree on the terrible nature of 2016 and so many people agree with the media.

My guts tell me that there might be a problem with that. I am not saying that the things, people and media outlets mention, when talking about 2016 and how terrible it has been, did not happen, or were not important. I rather think that the conclusion itself is problematic. To me, the debate on fake news and the complaining about the terribleness of 2016 seem somehow interconnected. Fake news and the filter bubbles that come along with it, have made it to the center stage of media attention. But isn’t the conclusion that this has been a terrible year not just another example of a filter bubble? How many of those who complain about the shittyness have really been affected. Don’t get me wrong. The election of Donald Trump or Brexit made me feel scared as well. But feeling scared is rather different from being really affected by something. So far, neither Brexit, nor the election of Donald Trump, had a real impact on my live.

And even if I, myself, would be affected by any one of these events directly, that would not mean that the whole world is going downhill. To me certainly, it could feel like it, but reality does not work based on my feelings. Nevertheless, we have reached a point, where too many decisions are based on fears and feelings. If this affects politics, it really becomes an issue.

There are quite a people that try to counter the bad stuff of 2016, with stories about the good stuff of 2016. I am not going to do that, because it is the same thing. Most of the “good” stuff, that has happened, remains forever as abstract as most of the “bad” stuff.

I am not saying that people should be ignorant of the things happening, but it becomes an issue, if distant and abstract things start affecting our feelings and through this our behavior. This way, the conclusion that 2016 has been a terrible year, might just be another fake news story, in that you have to believe in it for it to become valid and real.

Of course, terrible things did happen to many people in 2016, but mostly these are not the same people who claim it to have been a bad year. The people mostly affected are the ones without a voice. That is not new. But the extent to which people seem to come to the same conclusion almost reminds me of hysteria. But as a matter of fact, it might just be another hint on how our perception of the world has changed. The Internet and a 24 hour news circle enable us to believe that everything that is been told could affect us right here and now. It enables us to feel as if we were embedded in the struggles and catastrophes of our modern world. Even though we are as distant from most of the people or events as ever before.

We feel connected to the people we are virtually connected with, not realizing that there is no connection between us other than the story someone tells. The attacks and elections of the world are just a click away, so they might easily feel more real or important than my neighbor, which I have never spoken to. So his death might affect me less than the death of some stupid movie star.

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