This week Carrie Fisher and George Michael died, and the Internet is understandably freaking out. I myself am extremely saddened by the losses of such wonderful people. But I am also angry because the vast majority of social media posts I'm seeing about their deaths include something about 2016 (mostly along the lines of "fuck you" or "back off" of "I can't wait for January 1st").
I know we're using humor to ease the tension of upsetting events, but it makes me terrifically uncomfortable to see the deaths of wise, talented, brave individuals just being used as fodder for the "2016 sucks" meme. Of course it is important to find light and hope in times of tragedy, but it feels people aren't even able to be serious anymore. It becomes impossible to grasp the gravity of these situations when we're making light of them before we've had time to mourn.
This is not limited to recent celebrity deaths, either. The same sentiment is being expressed in reaction to political events -- Trump's appointments, for example. And a lot of shitty things have happened in 2016. But blaming everything on this year itself, saying how you can't wait until it's over, etc., actually trivializes everything that's gone on. Donald Trump was elected in 2016, yes, but we're going to feel the effects of his presidency far beyond 2020. Ditto Brexit, which won't even be fully implemented for two years, and the recent crisis in Syria. People aren't going to stop dying just because 2016 is over. (Not to equate celebrity death to political disaster, but it applies in both cases.)
I mean, time is made up anyway. The fact that a bunch of horrible events have occurred in the past twelve months is startling, but not particularly significant. The other day my dad compared 2016 to 1973, another year that brought a string of worldwide disasters. Yes, this has been a colossally awful year, and I wish its end could and did signify a change. But let's just not be too shocked when things don't magically get better the second the clock strikes midnight.
So instead of immediately cursing this year every time something bad happens, let's take a minute to think about the lives that have been lost and the consequences of the political changes that have been made. We're allowed to experience grief, but we have to move past the anger stage, through depression and onto acceptance before we can get anything done. My resolution for 2017 is to appreciate what has been lost, but focus on the things I'm able to change. I hope we can do so together.