The end at last. 2016 has been arguably the worst year in recent memory. Gauged by how much bad stuff went down. We had over 100 celebrity deaths and lost many icons. We acquired a bridge troll for President. We’ve had terrorist attacks and mass shootings left and right while our governing body chose to instead deal with gender bathroom issues. That’s just the public stuff. I won’t even go into the personal stuff. Needless to say, I haven’t had many good years, but 2016 is still managing to stand out as one of the worst.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why 2016 was so terrible, and I came to a theory that seems to make sense to me. Now I only speak of this as a theory. Think for a moment that this bad year is totally on us. The concept of getting what you give seems to be a true universal law. It makes sense. You give good, you get good just as if you give bad, you get bad. Has anyone wondered if we’re just giving out too much bad? Culturally, I seem to notice a subtle trend. Pride in being an asshole. So many people take such pride in being obnoxious and rude. They say they are just being honest and speaking their mind. They angle it to make themselves look almost noble for being a terrible person. This isn’t a sudden trend. We can see how this has been brewing for some time. I think the clearest indicator of this is television. Think for a moment about the current TV landscape. So many shows on the air today seem to celebrate being the worst person you can be. We’ve created a culture that looks at awful people as some kind of anti-heroes in our society and because of that they are worshiped and admired while people who stay on the side of the angels are looked upon as weak and boring. People too afraid to offend someone, but I wonder what is so wrong with not wanting to offend everyone? Can you not still communicate your point of view without offending someone? What’s wrong with showing other people respect? I don’t want to censor people, but I don’t know why considering the feelings of others is so terrible. You can think whatever you like, but it pays to be diplomatic.
I think this started at about the time of Married With Children and Rosanne. These shows and many like them showed the characters as we really are instead of how we wished we could be and that was great; but somewhere we crossed a line and instead of telling the truth, they started to create another level of society. There came more shows showing the characters acting ‘real’ but as they got worse, our society got worse. Now shows that fully embrace the worst of everything are runaway hits. Case in point: Game of Thrones. I’ve read and seen enough to know that there are virtually no redeemable characters in the GOT world. The people, I suppose, act as the writers would assume anyone would act in their positions. Kings screwing around all the time and siring legions of bastard children. People who kill, rape and steal and looked upon as heroes for doing so. Shows that make awful, amoral people the heroes of their stories.
Maybe the time is coming that we should look into celebrating what’s positive about our world. Revealing that being good doesn’t mean you’re some boring, naive simpleton. Trying to be a good person isn’t being naive. There is good in this world. We just simply choose to ignore it because it isn’t as much fun as negativity. It’s more fun to tear down than to build up. There was a time when our culture was a bit more moral positive, and in those days people were better. More polite and just nicer as a whole. It isn’t just that we celebrate bad behavior, but we also stigmatize good behavior. We label so-called ‘do-gooders’ as lame or boring. we created a narrative that those who work with the rules are bland and overly sensitive, not wishing to hurt anyone’s feelings in some hope of being accepted. I just wonder why this has become the case. What is wrong with being nice? More people should be nice. Maybe if more people were nice, this past year would not have sucked so hard. We’re creating a world where we are expecting everyone to be a bastard and by expecting them to be bad, we behave badly as well. Maybe we should start expecting the best, because usually whatever you expect of other people is what you get.
I leave you with this for the coming year. Try and swim upstream and be nice and think of others over yourself. Take a moment to realize you aren’t the only person on Earth. Don’t be afraid to consider others first, because it doesn’t make you weak, but rather it strengthens us all. The power to have a great 2017 is within us. To quote the wise Jerry Spring, please be good to yourselves, and each other. Make 2017 the best year yet!
Happy new year!