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Was 2016 Really the Worst Year on Record?

Could we really be so crass as to believe that 2016 was worse than molten rock literally falling from the sky in 79 AD?

There were massive terrorist attacks in 2001, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in ’05 and the American stock market had a fucking meltdown in 2008, but sure, 2016 was the worst year because some distraught zoo workers had to kill a gorilla.

Let’s not forget over 200 years of slavery or the two World Wars — and just think about tragedy on a global scale!

Seriously, any other year except for 2016.

Last year was downright terrible, and I’ll certainly toast to that, but hardly anyone mentions massive displays of gun violence, the Syrian Civil War or police brutality when they spin the familiar tune that 2016 was the worst year ever — not just the worst, but the worst ever. That is not a cause that I can get behind, especially not when there was a time when Mount Vesuvius was pissing magma and hurling rocks onto entire cities.

Here is a short compilation of why some people have already dubbed 2016 as the worst year on record.

1. Our Lord and Savior Harambe

When I think about which pseudo-tragedy bothered me the most in 2016, this one easily takes first place. The news stories, the memes, the conspiracy theories I can’t even bring myself to consider the legitimacy of—Harambe is the biggest gag of the year.

A social media uproar, incited after Harambe was shot and killed for dragging a child around his zoo enclosure, demanded justice for the ape. The concern after the event was genuine, and any fervent animal-lover you asked might’ve held the parents accountable—because how the hell does your child scale a fence (and then fall fifteen feet) without you noticing?

Was 2016 Really the Worst Year on Record?
Harambe (Image via Genius)

But internet trolls have turned a child’s trauma into a silly meme propagated by an ongoing circle-jerk mentality that seemed to start with Reddit and continues to spread like wildfire on social media websites. Whether it’s all a complete joke or there’s some sincere concern behind it, Harambe’s story has become so overdone that I’m beginning to wonder what other infinitely small things people blow out of proportion.

“Dicks Out for Harambe” isn’t endearing; using Harambe as a write-in candidate for the election wasn’t funny, and taunting the Cincinnati Zoo via their Twitter account is silly.

If you all really respect his legacy, let’s leave this ape in 2016.

2. Everyone Died

Obviously “everyone” is an overstatement, but I’d need more than ten fingers to count how many memorable celeb faces we lost last year: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee… and that was only in the first two months of the year! We lose celebrities all the time, but I deem 2016 a celebrity massacre.

Prince’s death was one of the most hard-hitting of the year, evident in the amount of tributes performed on music award shows and the number of times I heard “Purple Rain” playing on almost every radio station. Then the subsequent deaths of Anton Yelchin and boxing champ Muhammad Ali in early June, Elie Wiesel in July and Arnold Palmer in September served as constant reminders that nothing in this world is sacred.

Was 2016 Really the Worst Year on Record?
Prince (Image via The New Yorker)

And of course 2016 claimed the living embodiment of love and hope on its way out: Carrie Fisher. I felt that loss in my soul. That was worse than the CGI terror of “Attack of the Clones”: the nadir of nadirs. The Force was not strong with 2016.

While I empathize with the general feeling of sadness over those that we lost last year, using their deaths to drive home this crass idea that 2016 was the worst year ever is awful.

3. Our President-Elect Is an Orange

2016 was a volatile year for politics. We learned that basic rights were merely ink on a page and watching presidential debates felt like you’d bought a ticket to a blood-and-guts grudge match, but Donald Trump was certainly the worst of it all.

Trump went from being the guy you loved to hate on “The Apprentice” to the guy you actually hate. Who knew that a supposed sex-offender and prejudiced piece of shit could be president one day? Apparently thousand-dollar suits can dress up a bad mouth. Kids, don’t let your dreams die.

Was 2016 Really the Worst Year on Record?
Image via The Atlantic

His faux-inspirational mantra prompting voters to, “Make America great again!” is and has always been an exhausted attempt to bait Obama-haters. How about we make America great for once and burn all of those atrocious red hats?

The fate of this country rests on the shoulders of a man who mocks disabilities, doesn’t recognize women’s/minority/LGBT/basic human rights and is an actual orange regularly welcomes confrontation over Twitter like a teenage boy. But people still wanted this man for president? Okay.

Our president-elect taught us what is perhaps the important lesson of the year: Intelligence don’t mean shit.

4. The Death of Brangelina

2016 didn’t just claim a shit-ton of celebrity lives; it also claimed a lot of celebrity relationships. When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced their split in September of last year, everyone went nuts. You would’ve thought that all of planet earth was a part of Brangelina’s twelve-year long relationship and not just hopeless romantics watching from the outside.

Even worse was that it didn’t stop there: Brangelina wasn’t 2016’s sole casualty. The high-profile splits of Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger, Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney and especially Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts — who’d been together almost as long as Brangelina — made everyone lose their faith in love. The media absolutely ate these stories up and good for them; they had solid material to last them for the entire year.

Was 2016 Really the Worst Year on Record?
Image via Fab Blog

I’m guilty of being too emotionally invested in pop culture, and I’m the most eager spectator when it comes to celebrity relationships. Who doesn’t appreciate a good Hollywood love story? But my world didn’t end with Brangelina, and neither should yours.

Be grateful for the good things we have going into 2017, like Bey and Jay … who we’d better cherish now before the gods decide that love truly is dead.

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Aliyah Thomas

Mount Saint Mary College

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