Yes, People Blame 2016 on Their Grief, and That’s Okay

It’s been a near-universal constant that 2016 has been a difficult year.  Between the deaths of high-profile celebrities and entertainers, as well as political upheavals, it pretty much goes without saying that 2016 was fraught with many an infamous moment. Heck, 2016 may be a hurtful year to you if you’re a rabid enough White Sox fan (something I say with authority–I’ve seen some appalling words and behavior from White Sox fans directed at Cubs enthusiasts).

It’s gotten to the point that people blaming the year itself has become the default response whenever we hear about another celebrity death.  It’s as if 2016 has become the personification of death and despair itself:

  • “Damn you 2016, don’t you DARE take Carrie Fisher from us!”
  • “I’m done with you, 2016.  WHY did you take Anton Yelchin from us?!”
  • “Omg, 2016, how could you allow a giant Oompa-Loompa to take the White House?”
These are certainly not the most rational of responses, but as most of them are fueled by grief, they make a certain amount of sense.  2016 is certainly the common denominator for a number of grief-inducing events, from the deaths of beloved entertainers such as David Bowie and Alan Rickman to the Brexit decision and the 2016 US election, depending on how you view your politics. A lot of people had a lot of emotional capital invested in these people or situations, and when they imploded or expired, it’s natural that a grief response would follow.
But perhaps inevitably, there is an emerging backlash rearing its head online.
I’ve lately been seeing a lot of posts denigrating people for “blaming 2016” for the terrible things that have happened over the last 12 months.  These sentiments are typically coached in terms of pedantic rationalism, with posters bemoaning people’s lack of self-awareness and sense of accountability; or in a simple grumpiness that “things happen” and that people blaming a year makes said poster sick.  I’m now just waiting for someone to swoop in with the “time is a social construct, and doesn’t really exist, and by blaming a unit of time for your problems you are showing how small you are,” argument.
Such posts may give their originators a temporary sense of superiority, or allow them to think themselves smarter than the average bear, but all it really does is show them to be far too concerned with how others grieve.  I think it’s a reasonable assumption that most of the people cursing 2016 don’t actually think it’s a person or entity capable of deliberately wreaking havoc on the things and people we love.  It’s an obviously irrational act, born from an emotion that is typically not known for inducing calm deliberation in those afflicted with it.
Step off and let people feel what they feel, for crying out loud.
2016 HAS been an unusually turbulent year, and some people choose to grieve by collectively blaming the year, much the same way they celebrate the fandoms they love. Just because one doesn’t see the appeal of Star Wars, Star Trek, or Doctor Who doesn’t mean that person should make fun of others for liking them.  By the same measure, someone doesn’t respond to these events the same way as others should not try to browbeat people into thinking and feeling the way they do.
better_than_youIf you’re one of those folks who feels the need to make these snarky response posts, take my advice and just let people grieve in the way that most fits them.  I know it may be a little annoying, but it’s not like it isn’t coming from a genuine place.  Trying to put people in their “place” for their venting only makes you come off as douchey, elitist, and far too concerned with others’s responses to things that don’t concern you. You’re just a half step removed from being a bully.

My (Reposted) Meager Thoughts on Orlando

I know I’ve just reposted content so far, but I’ll get to something original in the near future.  Promise.

I posted this yesterday on my Facebook page.  It was the most genuine thing I could write at the time, and pretty all I want to say about the recent events in Orlando.

So, in case anyone is curious as to why I’ve been relatively silent on the Orlando shooting, here’s all I’m going to say on the matter:

*It’s horrific, despicable, homophobic, and all kinds of negative superlatives. I don’t think I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said by my many friends who’ve posted about it. I can’t summon the arrogance to pretend I have any particularly insightful perspective here.

*I’ve seen this sort of thing far too many times and seen NOTHING DONE in response. No changes in laws, or cultural attitudes, nor any indication that they will. It’s hard to comment in the face of such indifference.

*I’ve also seen a LOT of fallout from this over the last couple of days. Comments, reposts, news stories, talking head analyses from both sides, and it’s just too much. It’s depressing. In concert with the other two points, I just don’t see that I have anything helpful to say.

Except for this. To all of my friends, acquaintances, and the strangers who live in acute fear of these sorts of atrocities, simply because of who you love or how you were born, I support and stand with you. I reject any line of thinking that seeks to minimize your importance, and if I ever unknowingly espouse such thinking because of my own privilege, please let me know so I can listen and learn.

And to all of the extremist, racist, homophobic troglodytes out there who can’t accept the world as it is outsider of their narrow lived experience: get with the times. We’re approaching a paradigm shift where you simply don’t matter anymore, and acts such as these show the world that you’re scared it will happen. This world will not be hobbled by your anger and fear. Its diversity is its richness, and everyone deserves to feel safe.

I’ll let this post and the Samantha Bee repost stand as my two meager contributions to this conversation.

Now to go post about Spider-Man, video games, Spider-Man video games, comics, and other things that don’t depress the hell out of me.

I want to do more to make this world a better and safer place for all people.  Until then, I hope everyone stays safe and happy.