Years ago Queen Elizabeth II described 1992 as her annus horribilis – a horrible year. I think for many 2016 might equally be so described, or perhaps even more so, a horrible arse of a year.
WatchOS 3.0 introduced a breathe function, to remind us to stop and pause in our days and take a few deep breaths. While WatchOS only came out in September 2016, rarely has anything been so defining of a trip around the sun for me than a periodic chime, tap on the wrist and a mocking reminder that maybe I should take a minute to breathe.
It’s all very well meant, of course, but doesn’t Apple realise a few deep breaths aren’t really enough given the sort of year we’ve had?
A year where atrocities were committed by inhumane rulers and revolting revolutionaries alike in the name of their causes, displacing millions of people around the globe and killing even more, all while petty minded leaders tut-tutted and strengthened their borders lest some of those displaced might appear frantically on their doorstops seeking refuge. A year where the few brave leaders who sought to make a difference were pilloried and tut-tutted by their peers frantic to act lest their humanity escape from a Lectoresque dungeon.
A year where a debauched, foul-mouthed demagogue with a penchant for bellicose lies, apparently abetted by a pseudo-dictator and definitely abetted by a man on the lam to avoid being investigated for rape charges successfully convinced people that the solution to money and greed running their country was to have angry money and greed to run the country.
A year where neo-Nazis were given free camouflage via the umbrella term, alt-right, by a media determined to avoid the N-word even when it was completely and utterly deserved.
A year where a supposedly civilised country collectively decided that it was entirely reasonable for police to shoot unarmed people in broad daylight at point blank range, even while being recorded, simply based on the colour of their skin.
A year where “post-truth” was invented by the neo-Nazis hiding under the banner of alt-right as a means of hiding the simpler word, lies, aided by a media determined to act neutrally, even if that abetted the rise of fake news.
A year where dyspeptic newspaper cartoonists working for rich moguls with a disdain for democracy and history had the breathtaking audacity to compare gay rights activists to Nazis.
A year where the sequel prequel to the original sequel to the at-the-time unwritten prequel was released to acclaim, despite the morally dubious non-consensual use of a dead man’s face; setting the precedent for actors to work, enslaved for free for an eternity after they have shuffled their mortal coil.
A year where the man who ousted a deeply unpopular man from power for deeply unpopular policies continued to implement those policies without the faintest hint of irony, seemingly just to appease deeply conservative members of his party, riding the popularity bomb to the bottom in Kubrikesque fashion all in the vain belief that the ends always justify the means – the end simply being, “I’m Prime Minister”. And a year where apologists stood to the side wringing their hands in dismay and moaning in disbelief, “It’s a feint, it has to be a feint!”, even while their shoes were figuratively set on fire by the friction of the plummeting popularity.
A year where arch-conservatives continued to insist that marriage equality for non-heterosexuals would destroy the sanctity of marriage, but continued to be silent on matters of divorce or TV shows featuring topics such as one man dating sixteen women (or vice versa), or people marrying at first sight.
A year where morally bankrupt leaders around the globe continued to drink from the tar-stained fount of political donations, dipping their coal-crafted chalices time and time again into the oil-sheened lickspittle as they convinced voters that avarice and myopic attitudes should forever trump an honest and altruistic appraisal of the needs of both current and future generations.
A year where a foul mouthed elected President encouraged the murder of citizens on the suspicion of being involved with drugs, and to hell with due process, human rights or collateral damage.
A year where the Australian government continued to flaunt its contempt for human rights and condemn asylum seekers to inhumane treatment in interment camps scattered about the Pacific whilst insisting it was acting solely to save lives at sea. And a year where a majority of Australians seemingly turned a complicit eye, happy to know the government was doing its utmost to ensure people couldn’t know just how evil the policies had become. A year where see no, hear no, tell no evil became further enshrined in Australian law.
A year where drug cheats again achieved excellent medal counts in the Olympics while the IOC stood by and insisted the drug cheats had learnt their lessons by being threatened with censure for cheating. A year where governments around the world collectively plowed billions of dollars into snatching the remaining medals not seized by the drug-cheats, all the while cutting essential services, denying aid to the homeless, and chastising the poor for not contributing enough to the winning of medals.
A year that was hotter than all recorded years prior, that broke records for the number of temperature records broken, where still we could see tepid-thinking deniers point gleefully at a shard of ice or a sudden cold snap somewhere and exclaim “it’s all a lie!” without even a glimmer of self-censure.
A year where some of the greatest icons of music sang their last and left the world a quieter, sadder place.
A year where thousands of Americans were again killed senselessly by idiots with guns, all the while defended by other idiots with guns who continued to engage in Herculean feats of cognitive dissonance to assert the only solution to gun deaths was more yet more guns in stark denial of the evidence presented by every other major democracy in the world. And a year where increasing numbers of people outside of America just finally threw their hands up in numb defeat and said “fuck it, just keep shooting yourselves, we can’t keep caring if you don’t”.
A year where the Sharknado series finally jumped the shark.
Let that sink in for a moment: the Sharknado series jumped the shark. If that doesn’t stand as a stark icon of the failure that was 2016, I don’t know what will.
But take a minute to breathe. That’ll somehow make it all better.