I have been trying to determine how to sum up 2016. I think the most accurate term would be “shit show”. Regardless of how you feel as though 2016 turned out, it was undeniably a surprising year. There were many unexpected aspects to 2016. The most surprising, to many, was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States; followed closely by the exiting of Britain from the European Union, often called “Brexit” for short.
Whether it be from being able to sail across and ocean, to flying across the same ocean, or even taking a train across a vast country, there is one thing that the march of progress has done, it has made the world a smaller place. This is even more abundantly true with the rise of the internet, and most particularly social media sites. Social media is a double-edged sword. This has occurred by allowing us to communicate with those anywhere on the planet. This allows us to be exposed to ideas and people would never have another instance to engage in. One of the ways that people learn about news that they may not normally hear, is through Social Media.
There have been many people who will say “Good Riddance to 2016”. Even though they are consciously aware of the fact that a year cannot cause problems, they do look towards something as a scape goat. Sometimes this is due to the death of celebrities and those known by a significant number of people around the world.
As with any year, a plethora of household names have passed away during 2016. Some of these include Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Anton Scalia, Anton Yelchin, Arnold Palmer, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Debbie Reynolds, Elie Wiesel, Fidel Castro, Florence Henderson, Gary Shandling, Gene Wilder, George Michael, Harper Lee, Janet Reno, John Glenn, Kenny Baker, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, Nancy Reagan, Pat Conroy, Prince, Umberto Eco, William Christopher and many many more; in fact too many to list. This includes those that are not as well known, but none-the-less have impacted people across the world.
Technology’s ability to expose people to more than they could have in the past, does mean that more people have the capability of becoming more well known. This social ability of Social Media also means that collectively we can grieve for those that have died. Even with the coming together that Social Media allows, it can also cause some to be very derisive. Compounding this downside to is that some individuals do not always recognize that there are actual human beings on the other side of the wire. This means that when people interact with others, they say and do things that they would not say or do if they were in physical proximity of others.
This cognitive dissidence has lead to some of the most contentious stories of the year. Besides the aforementioned election of Donald Trump as the 46th President of the United States and the British exit of the European Union, there have been many other stories that have caused some rancor. The biggest has been the issues with race between minorities and various Police Departments. These stories do not just minorities being shot by Police, although a majority of them are just this type of story. Some of the cities that have had these stories are Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
One of the biggest stories has been the leaking of emails between some Democratic National Committee members. While the emails themselves were mostly innocuous, the leak itself was, and still is, the more worrisome part. It has been determined that Russia is behind the hack. Whilst the hack itself is definitely problematic, the influence of the hack on the United States election is the bigger of the issues.
As I write this, we are entering the waning hours of 2016. With 2017, we are entering a contentious time with nuclear powers threatening each other. A defector from North Korea, now in South Korea, has indicated that North Korea may have full nuclear capabilities by the end of 2017. With the Russian hacking of the United States Election, and the unknown ties between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and President Elect Donald Trump, we are entering a very unstable time. The progress that has been made within the United States is possibly in peril due to the incoming Congress of the United States and the aims of President Elect Trump.
Despite how bad 2016 has been, it is my hope that 2017 will be better; not just for race relations, but for everything that is happening throughout the world. We, as humans, are the only ones who are capable of being kinder to one another, and we are the only ones who are able to come together and come to some consensus and compromise and learn to live with each other. Here is to hoping that 2017 is better than we all expect and some of the regression that has been experienced in 2016 is reversed and we all get back into making progress.