2019 brought us a great many things: "Old Town Road", the most diverse Congress in U.S. history, reluctant acceptance of TikTok into the cultural zeitgeist, Greta Thunberg, and widespread disillusionment despite relative stability. Let's be honest, if we take a step back and reflect, we can see that we are all constantly freaking out over (usually) nothing. This mutual hysteria over today's day and age is what I call the "Chicken Little Effect", in which everyone screeches that "the sky is falling", but the horror exists only in society's imagination. The "Chicken Little Effect" is a permanent facet of the human condition; this effect is useful when we are facing combat or the climate crisis, but needless when we are facing inertia and inaction.
As a country, we flinched as if we experienced deep, extended, existential issues, rather than the individual tragedies that beset us in the average course of every year. Then, after each headline broke, we had vibrant online conversations in which we pinpointed the underlying problems with no consensus of actual solutions.
Big picture, nothing truly special occurred in 2019. Employment and the stock market were steady. September 11th happened eighteen years ago, 2019 having no terrorist assails of that magnitude and no new land wars to surpass Iraq, Vietnam, or the Bay of Pigs.
The nation was supposed to be tranquil in 2019: mindfulness became a buzzword to help people be their "best selves", violent crime diminished nationwide, and teen birthrates trended downward.
Yet, in the face of nothingness, we angst. The idleness and boredom of it all shoved many folks towards radicalized populism and reactionary Internet behavior (i.e. the political bump in the center of the bell curve between Breitbart and Woke Twitter is evening out).
2019 was a perfect storm of panicked dismay with stability, unproductive fanaticism with stalemate, and discomfort with sterility. If you feel like the End Times are near, (they're not), I incite you towards constructive engagement, not complaining as you retreat.
I'm never one to look on the bright side, but here I am, defending a time that was what we made of it: mediocre. No matter how much we torment about how awful now is, time is equivocal. So, if we have a problem with 2019, we just have a problem with ourselves.