The Year 2016: A Villain or a Victim?

The year 2016 will likely be one that shall be noted in the annals of history as a black year. A blip in the progress bar of human evolution. A soggy, tear drenched scroll of irredeemable squalor. Its ink is rancid and its words are harrowing. How dare such a sequentially organised period of time have deigned to exist and play out as it did. The sheer gall of it! From divisive political upheavals and fear fuelled media outbursts to seemingly not a day passing by where a beloved personality or pioneer hadn’t passed away, this particular year seems to have ‘what the bloody hell just happened?’ written all over it.

Damn you 2016 to the possibly fictional agony of hell you numerical bastard for potentially jeopardising the financial security of my homeland post Brexit. Curse you pitiful prick for bringing to my attention hundreds of posts relating to the ignorant outcries of those whose time is too precious to consider checking the facts before negatively reacting to the deceits of certain organisations’ political agendas. And how dare you rob us of the talents and sheer brilliance of the likes of David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Muhammad Ali and far too many others you absolute swine!

For countless reasons 2016 has garnered the dreadful title as one of the worst years in living memory and possibly all of existence depending on who you talk to or what you read. Yet, the odd thing is this – it is not 2016’s fault. None of it. It just happened to be there when all of these terrible things occurred and has become just as much of a victim as those who have suffered through the events that had transpired this year past. It lies meekly upon a bed of sorrow and regret, haunted and beaten, a decrepit, weary old man whose final days were spent surrounded by the baying mobs begging for it to go away and simply die like it was a horrific monster.

We as a global community have decided that even though we are very much aware of who the true culprits are (at least in regards to many of the events from that year) that purely by association we have also attributed the evils of those 366 days to the year that was the 16th to follow of this 21st century. Some bad stuff happened during that year and so by our own perceptions the year itself was also bad.

Side Note – As I unintentionally misspelled the word culprit written above, I realised that I had in fact spelled out culptit. Culp-tit! I don’t know about you but it has a nice ring to it when spoken out loud. I may use that instead in the future. Anyway….

From what I have gathered regarding how this period of our history is looked upon, we have done what has happened so many times before. We have created a grotesque mask that is the pure representation of all of our hatred and placed it upon the visage of a year that many couldn’t wait to see the back of in the same way one would differentiate a pantomime scoundrel from the rest of the cast by having him dress in the appropriate garb for the role. The 16th calendar year of this millennium became a banner to scorn, a poster to vandalise, an effigy to burn within the pyres of our minds. If last year was a glass jar that had the sole purpose of containing within it all of our collective malice, contempt and utter condemnation then it would have broken into a thousand pieces well before its end.

Many will look back to 2016 and shall likely, for many reasons personal and societal, grit their teeth and maybe shudder a little in remembrance. Time after time I would venture into the world of social media or read/watch segments of news and it seemed that everyday passed where something dreadful had occurred to someone or someplace as if the God of Fuck You had a personal checklist and wasn’t happy until he had done something dreadful by each night’s passing. It is part of our modern lives. Technology and its relentless advancement has allowed us to be connected in such a way that we are able to learn of the woes of individuals and groups both close to us and far away, the famous and the obscure, and after inevitably accepting one way or another whatever tragedy has occurred, we will then begin to utilise one of humanities most useful inventions. Definition. We each of us will choose how something we have experienced will affect us, either in the moment or after much contemplation, and then choose a category that best defines the event based on how we perceive that it should be defined and then we react accordingly. As a result of the events that transpired in 2016, many will choose to define it as an abomination. A bloated mass of grief, rage and utter discontentment.

But personally, I pity old man 2016 and sigh as I think of him alone and shivering in his bed as his life ebbed to the echoes of the people championing the dawn of his younger brother, 2017. In reality, as a pure figment of categorisation he could no more help nor harm us than our very own shadows. Yet 2016 has managed to cast a long and very dark shadow of its own simply for existing and I ask you – is that fair? Is it fair to blame the witness, the innocent passer-by for what happened to each and every one of us last year? Or shall we continue to construct for ourselves a tomb of stones carved from sour memories around that shadow and its owner thus maligning this poor old man as if he were a villain in a horror movie?

Many great things also happened during this time. Just off the top of my head is the fact that Leicester City FC won the Premiership that year to be crowned the Champions of England far ahead of their closest rivals, the perceived ‘Titans of Football’ that fell short below them in the league table. It was pretty bloody fantastic when you think about it. But for this and many other good moments that transpired, we should in equal measure offer no thanks or gratitude just because they happened when they did to the year in which they occurred. Have you ever heard someone say ‘so and so year was a brilliant time for insert person’s name here’ and then go on to list why it is remembered so fondly? The year itself played no actual part in the memory and therefore deserves no praise yet it often garners the title of ‘brilliant year’ just because that was when that specific event happened.

I suppose I just don’t understand why we are unable to separate a figment within our minds based on something of our own species creation (the calendar year) from the realities and truths related to positive or negative events that happened during a particular time. It is not as if I haven’t done it myself in the past. I also have a tendency to attribute my personal feelings to how I remember a certain period of my past and have likely cursed or praised such a time for simply unfolding as it did.

A year is simply a marker that we use to help us navigate the time periods of our lives and our global civilisation. Nothing more. It is we in our ceaseless attempts to categorise our lives who give greater meaning to all-encompassing concepts such as indicators relating to the passage of time. Would you blame the year 1939 for unleashing a world at war upon us? 1346 for the beginning of the Black Death? 1096 for the start of the Crusades? 2004 for the emergence of the X-Factor? I didn’t think so…. well maybe the last one.

Should we really be wasting our energies despising the year itself, which is basically an incorporeal entity of our own making, instead of the real reasons the year was considered to be such a miserable one in the first place? Should we actually be spending any time despising anything at all when it could be considered more positive to any person’s mental wellbeing to focus on the good things that have happened during the 12 months of the past year, absent feelings toward the year itself?

I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the matter. Was 2016 truly the culptit (haha, I told you!) many folks consider it to be?

Forged From Reverie.

34 thoughts on “The Year 2016: A Villain or a Victim?

  1. 2016 was a bad year but it is inevitable that anything similar will happen in the future.. It’s not like anyone stops aging, and to be completely honest, the passing of my Grandmother in December phased me more than the celebrities, but i still won’t say 2016 was the worst year ever.. I have had worse things happen to me over the course of the past decade and i still wont shun a year in particular because of it. Life is full of ups and downs and there’s very little we can do about it!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You make a very valid point here and it’s one that more people could do with hearing. People blame 2016 for all it’s ills, but the year itself isn’t, wasn’t, and never can be the culptit (you’re right, that does feel good to say!). I also think that by placing blame on something as intangible as time, we lose focus on what really was to blame for some of the worst parts of the year. The deaths, of course, were a tragedy though something nobody could control, however the votes that shook last year (be it here in the UK or overseas in the US) really are something we can think about and, maybe just maybe, combat. I think so many people have almost given up, resigned the woes to that of the year… “2017 will be better!”, “I wish 2016 would end now”, and as a simple joke, meme, or humourous statement it does make sense, but some of these people really do just forget that some of the biggest issues won’t just go away, and some of the biggest issues were the fault of real people, not a personified period of time.

    Fantastic post, Stuart. Gave me a lot to think about. Hopefully this comment wasn’t too waffley!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne. Now you can enjoy a fresh new year free of guilt. Cult membership is optional, unless you joined a really freaky one that refuses any act of potential withdrawal. In which case – best of luck!

      Like

  3. You can’t blame a social contract. Time and calendar years are something we created. I just think it’s insane that all of these terrible things happened pretty much around the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great one, Stuart! It actually did occur to me at some point after yet another joke in 2016-go-away-manner that it wasn’t the year to blame. It’s nothing to do with numbers, but generally with the ever-mounting pressures, tensions, climate changes, whatever really. Those global issues won’t go away because 2017 came and 2016 left. Things will go on and there’ll be more deaths and issues in the future. But you’re absolutely right – we should always look at the bright side, concentrate on good moments and cherish them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I think one of the reasons that people tend to book end stuff, particularly negative stuff, into years is in order to leave it behind and enjoy the concept of a fresh start, however artificial that concept actually is.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. haha I for one vote that you should use the word culptit more often! Agree with you- it’s very silly that people are lamenting a year as if somehow a numerical value for time measurement is to blame for their problems! Very daft indeed! Besides- like you said good things happened too- I mean Murray won Wimbledon again! Shouldn’t we all be happy about that? In all seriousness, I also think I’m irked with people saying democratic decisions and celebrity deaths are the worst thing to come out of 2016- I mean it’s not like these people mention ISIS terrorist attacks in Berlin, Baghdad, Medina, Nice, Turkey, Belgium, or the US… to name a few- just sick of the ridiculous moral equivalency to be honest. And here I am being a total hypocrite and blaming the year for this 😉 I guess it’s easy to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Although 2016 seemed a bad year for a lot of people, I think we could say this of almost any year after it finishes and we only have the negatives shown to us constantly. For myself I think 2016 was more of a wasted year than a terrible one, I know I have definitely had worse years but I don’t think the year was to blame, just a way of remembering when all the crap things happened. We seem to hang so much on a years end and beginning that we waste the bits of time throughout because they don’t have the same emphasis on change. Perhaps things would be better all round if we could hit the restart the year button on any day 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • A restart button is a brilliant idea. I think I would prefer mine to be of the daily variety though. And to have the added benefit of the memories of the ‘forgotten’ day.

      Thanks for providing your perspective. It is most appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am looking at things with a great measure of both irony and curiosity, it is why I reasonably believe in many things that have been accumulated by humanity. Some of them do make sense, and certain periods of time do differ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, what passed in 2016 will continue to have ramifications. Carrie Fisher won’t be in Star Wars IX. And Brexit and Trump…2016 was just an intro course in pain. Now we get the Master Class. And yeah, I do think of the years you mentioned as black years because of what came after. The human suffering on incalculable levels. How else shall we judge human experience except by human values? (And my dog died.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember reading that post regarding your dog. When my own passes away, there is a strong possibility I will wish to reprimand the very year it happens and judge that period of time accordingly.

      You are right though, we judge by how and what we perceive. And this is very human indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

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