2016 Was the Absolute Worst and There's No Spinning It
Trying to review 2016 with any semblance of positivity is a lot like trying to navigate the internet in 2007. Everything would seem to be going just fine—and then you'd get Rickrolled, have to restart your computer, and start your work all over again.
The biggest difference between '07 and '16? This time around, we the people were Rickrolled IRL.
If you feel like using kid gloves, you can sum up the problems of the year with one word: privilege. It was the year that rapist Brock Turner was given just a three-month sentence for his violent crimes; the year when people somehow continued to denounce the Black Lives Matter movement as an exclusionary crusade; and, of course, it was the year when reality star Donald Trump won the presidential election on a platform of xenophobia, misogyny, and racism.
2016 was also a huge wake-up call. No matter how much progress we all thought we'd made in terms of human rights and freedom, this year was a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. LGBTQ+ rights were attacked, violently, at Pulse Nightclub, terrorist attacks swept across the world, and Syria spent another year embroiled in civil war. It's more important than ever to fight for equality, celebrate diversity, and show compassion in every way possible.
It was also a year when seemingly countless legends were taken away from us, many of whom used their platforms to advocate for equal rights. With the passing of musical icons like David Bowie and Prince, boxing legend and civil rights crusader Muhammad Ali, and actress and writer Carrie Fisher, the world seems to have lost quite a bit of its glow.
Sometimes it takes a shocking amount of adversity and tragedy to propel progress. Hopefully that will be the silver lining of 2016's dark cloud: that this horrid year will be remembered as the one that inspired us all to do better.
—Yasmeen Gharnit, social media editor
2016 Was All About Loss, and That's a Good Thing
For me, the most important story of 2016 starts back in 2005, on MySpace of all places. That's where a dear friend of mine sent me a message that would change his life. "All those guys you've been hanging out with lately…" he wrote, referring to the troupe of gay teenagers I'd recently befriended at my new retail job at the mall. "I'm like them," he said. "Gay?" I asked. "Yep," he said.
It was the kind of coming out that would be met less with surprise and more of an affectionate "duh" by most people involved. But it was the next thing he said that stunned me. "Guess I'll never be president," he observed, then added a remarkably macabre "lol." It hit me hard: Being "who he was" in 2005 could somehow rob him of another equally important part of "who he was"—a wildly optimistic, passionate, and moral person who deserved to be a leader.
Time passed. Bush left office. Someone better came along. Life felt impossibly big and fast all the time, hurtling forward. Being "who you are" became so in vogue it was practically a fashion statement. Then it was November 8, 2016, and in an instant everything went black, even our Instagram feeds. People fumbled around in the dark for the silver lining. There wasn't one, and there still isn't.
More important than finding the silver lining in 2016 is focusing on the things we should be glad we lost. If Obama's powerful spirit made apathy uncool, Trump's presidency has made it unacceptable. We should be glad the tendency all human beings—even the good ones—have toward complacency and selfishness are no longer tolerable.
In the absence of a decent person serving as the moral compass for our country, the majority of Americans are now basically 65.8 million kids in a trenchcoat. We have no choice but to come together to form the monolithic adult figure that, come January 20th, will no longer be embodied by the president of the United States. It will be inconvenient sometimes, but we'll be better for it.
As for my friend? He sent me another message on November 8th: He won his first election.
And that's not a silver lining, by the way. It's something else entirely—big, fast, hurtling forward.
—Mallory Rice, deputy editor