#Fuck2016 Will be the Fire in my Belly

If you type “2016” into google, google will suggest you search “2016 on fire” because it assumes it must be relevant to your interests. I think it’s a good indication of how many people felt about the past year. John Oliver made a deeply satisfying video where they literally blow 2016 up.

It feels good to shit on 2016, doesn’t it? And rightfully so, some shitty things happened. We had a constant barrage of police shootings, a presidential candidate (now elect) tweeting vile and astonishingly childish things, the loss by the most qualified candidate for the presidency in recent history (who happened to be female), genocide in Aleppo, the loss of our heroes: Bowie, Harper Lee, Prince, Carrie Fisher, where does it end? And to top it all off there was emphatic analysis of each event from every point of view possible, selected by an algorithm to fit conveniently into both the palm of your hand and your ideological comfort zone.

At first glance, it might seem like people are wishing good riddance to 2016 in the hope the 2017 will be better, simply because the clock struck midnight. I don’t believe that people are that naive. Obviously, nobody knows for sure what this year will bring. But maybe tagging everything with #fuck2016 was more than an edgy attempt at laughing at fate or an angry shout into the void. It was a statement, a call to action. For me, it was a point in my life that made me say, “I need to go out and do all those things I thought I would when I was younger.” It made me say, “Wake the hell up, Michaela.”

I think it’s telling that #fuck2016 was often in response to the death of a beloved celebrity. People die. Celebrities are people. Yet last year marked the untimely death of many who shaped the world we currently live in. Cancer in particular took many as they reached an age where cancer likes to rear it’s ugly fucking face. From Bowie, to Rickman, to my friends’ parents, and even my own father’s recent diagnosis, it’s infuriating to see this disease hurt and take from us when it feels like a cure beckons from just beyond the horizon of this decade. Perhaps I’m alone, but I have this overwhelming feeling, as a 20-something, that, “Oh shit, it’s up to us now. Now is the time to start shaping our world.” But when the light goes out in one of my heroes, it’s hard not to be scared of faltering under their shadow. What would they do or say now? We don’t know. It’s up to us.

So let’s say, #Fuck2016, and live on through their legacies and go out to better the world, just like they did.

Of course, the hashtag was also a common response to an extraordinarily unpopular election, as well as to natural disasters and war crimes. In year filled with things that were within and outside of human control, who do you blame, how can you react? Who do you curse and shake your fists at in the sky? A combination of numbers seems as good as anything anymore. It’s gained special meaning beyond it’s normal duty of simply marking time. Perhaps the collective chant of the volk last year can be and is a rally toward meaningful action.

Perhaps when someone says, “fuck 2016”, it’s not a tantrum, it’s a battle cry. I know it is for me. I will fight tooth and nail to create a world that is the antithesis of that miserable year. To my friends and loved ones: I will love and celebrate you in a manner so overzealous that it’ll be embarrassing. I will do my civic duty and vote and protest and make calls and write letters. I’ll stand up to bigotry and shitty behavior even though I’m socially awkward and small and it makes me really uncomfortable – because nobody has time for my awkward white girl discomfort. And goddammit if I won’t enjoy all the great things that will happen too.

Image courtesy of Aleshkovsky Mitya/Itar-Tass Photo/Corbis via Marieclaire

When you say, “fuck 2016,” imagine you are on a beautiful white horse, face painted blue and white in front of the cavalry. You are Pussy Riot making-fun of Putin at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. You’re Chance the Rapper telling record labels to fuck off.

We can’t change a lot of the shit that happened last year, nor can we expect the next year to be different simply by virtue of its number. Let #fuck2016 be the tinder to our flame, not the contents bubbling in the pot. Let’s gather in our communities and make real change this year, chase our passions, use our voices. And when we’re exacting our pursuit of justice and happiness, slowly stirring the pot of of our glorious victory soup, we can look down at the flames below and know what we have in the making. We can look at the embers and ash from an ugly time and say, “Bitch I see you. Bye.”

Interested in some ways to contribute to the victory soup and work toward meaningful action? Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Support credible journalistic publications such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and especially your local paper.

Stay mad. Do something about it.

 

Article and Illustration by Michaela Heidemann