At work the other day, I received an email from a vendor that opened with "2016 was truly one for the books!" I guess you could say that, if we're talking about Infinite Jest or a Stephen King novel or something. We can agree 2016 was kind of a dud, right? So much ink has been spilled on the topic, it feels pointless to even rehash how much of a tsunami of suckitude this year has been. It was such a slow-burning dumpster fire, it's probably time to retire the phrase "dumpster fire." Here is but a tiny sampling of other things that can stay in 2016.
- Pepe the Frog
The word "great"
Remember when "great" used to mean something? That's a trick question, because it never did. Great is the most generic, vague, useless word in the English language. "Great" is the "no offense, but" of adjectives (adverbs too, for you grammarians) because it rarely means what the speaker is saying. "Great" is what you say when someone asks how you're doing, and things are actually pretty terrible but you know they ain't looking for an honest answer. When I'm trying on clothes and a store employee says "That looks great on you!" I assume they're not even looking.
I used to think "political correctness" was an exaggeration. What some people consider PC, I call being considerate. Then I found out there was a PC term for white supremacists that they, ironically, came up with themselves. Hell. No. Neo-Nazis don't get a "safe space." Racism doesn't deserve a nickname. Or a cartoon frog mascot. The alt-right attitudes of sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia don't belong in 2016, 2017, or any year, and ascribing a kinder, gentler descriptor to the movement only makes it sound okay. It's not.
Blaming everything on the year
One refrain in the symphony of suck that was 2016 was the death of an alarming number of celebrities. Well-loved figures whom we presumed were immortal — David Bowie, Prince to name a couple — proved us wrong. Yes, many of our heroes left this world too soon. The emotional weight of endless bad news is heavy. It's okay to grieve! But y'all, we cannot say "Ugh, 2016 strikes again" whenever someone dies. The year 2016 didn't kill John Glenn. He was in his 90s. And it didn't take Muhammad Ali; Parkinson's disease did. Don't give this devil year any more credit than it deserves.
Anyone who has read the "literature" available in a grocery store checkout line knows "fake news" is not a new phenomenon. Nor is the notion that people believe everything they read on the internet, particularly if it's compatible with their worldview. What is new is dismissing any news that displeases us as "fake news." To paraphrase the late Senator Pat Moynihan, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Pizzagate? Fake news. Actual events, recorded on camera, with witnesses? Not fake news. Fake news and calling real news fake can hit the road, as far as I'm concerned.
Nightmarish Memphis Driving™ situations
The flyover is open! It's still a mess, but the hard part is over ... maybe? Otherwise I might turn into my mother and never go anywhere that can't be accessed via Poplar, which sucks in its own right, but I'd rather wait for a train than worry about my vehicle launching into oblivion from the height equivalent of an eighth-story window. By the way, if you're ever stuck on the flyover behind a little white Toyota going 20 miles an hour, I apologize, but that thing scares the bejeezus out of me.
I don't mind a little late-game drama, especially since the Grizzlies usually prevail. I'm convinced Coach Fizdale is a wizard (yes, already), so I enjoy watching him conjure up wins. I love seeing how the team responds to adversity and watching the rookies develop, but man ... what do we have to do to get a healthy squad? Does this have something to do with that crystal skull in the Pyramid? How about just a few games at full strength? Maybe blow out a couple of weaker opponents. For the sake of our collective health.
Honorable mentions: 1990s TV and movie reboots. Crying Jordan. Harambe. College football conference expansion or lack thereof. Whatever is going on in Russia. News reports about viral video sensations. Gimmicky fast-food menu items. Most of all, though, I'd like to leave behind the lurking premonition that 2017 might suck even worse. Let's turn the page and hope for the best.
Jen Clarke is an unapologetic Memphian and digital marketing strategist.