2016 was god-awful.
- the shit show that was the US election
- the rise of neo-nationalism
- the death of liberalism as we know it
- the many celebrity deaths
- batman vs. superman
On the local front (Nigeria):
- your cost of living doubled while your salary remained the same (cue recession and fuel money).
So, yeah it was awful. But it really wasn’t as bad as our near-sighted social media denizens and CNN would have us believe. The year threw up some pleasant surprises, too.
Good news doesn't appeal to their business model. So, they rammed only the gory tales of carnage and police brutality down our throats.
2016 was the year we discovered the most effective Ebola vaccine since this lethal pathogen wreaked pure havoc in West Africa in 2013 and 2014.
If you haven’t heard about that breakthrough, it’s not only because CNN didn’t make a splash screen out of it. It’s also probably because good news is boring.
Our brains which have been hard-wired to look out for danger are most excited about “dangerous” stories. We pay attention and remember selectively. So, though violence has decreased continuously in the last decade, the social media has a fresh story of police brutality waiting for our primordial brains to gorge and dwell on.
By any objective measure, 2016 was pretty awful. It isn’t the worst year yet, though.
In fact, here are six years that are actually worse than 2016. Let’s cue in those bullet points again:
- 1969, Nigeria: Thousands of southern Nigerians were dying of hunger and raids at the peak of Nigeria’s 3-year civil war. More than a million Nigerians had died at the end of that war.
- The 1100s: The Chinese invented firearms - enabling genocidal levels of violence for centuries. Thanks, 1100s*
- 1918: in addition to the killing field of WWI, the influenza pandemic of September, October, and November of 1918 killed more people than AIDS has done since forever.
- 1945: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- 1993: The Rwandan genocide.
- And if we are being air-headed with this worst year doohickey, how about 2013? The year of the Selfie, Selfie Stick and the Twerk. The worst.
Was 2016 awful? Yup. Is it the worst year yet? You need to close your Twitter, get out of your echo chamber and stop watching the news.
Happy new year.
*For this quote, thanks to Baratunde Thurston, CEO and co-founder, Cultivated Wit; author, How to Be Black