In June, I read Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a tome where he delves into the new normal of public shaming individuals who probably should have thought before they hit ‘send’ on Twitter. The image above captures the essence of the phenomenon as we are willing to share much more about ourselves online than necessary, or at least the not well-thought out opinions we harbor. (And yes, the name you noticed has been rediscovered thanks to the controversy surrounding FanDuel, DraftKings and other daily fantasy sites.)
Shaming’s not new, far from it. However, in 2015, I noticed that more and more people are fighting about, against and for their identities than ever before. Or just plain ol’ fighting.
Perhaps that’s how it has always been, but in the sense that the Silent Majority has made a roaring and frightening comeback or that television has (at least superficially) proclaimed that it’s black and it’s proud or that transgender people don’t want Caitlyn Jenner to take on a cause for them, it seems as if the last twelve months have been rather unique.
We’re all shouting to be heard, although much of the shouting is at each other because of some sense of disenfranchisement, real and imagined. The vast cacophony of multiple angry voices just creates more of it. If we looked at ourselves from a 30,000-foot view, we could see that the crevasses that separate us have widened in real time. Even at this very second, there is something you are told to be ticked off about that you are very likely to completely forget in a few weeks’ time. And you will lose your shit over it (I might, too), rage at friends and family about the misdeeds of strangers, declare yourself “over it” and proceed to the next moment of outrage.
As eloquently put last week on Vox by Alex Abad-Santos when discussing the year in “reverse outrage”,
We often don’t care about the fixing the wrong or adding to the conversation; all we see is an opportunity to affirm some version of ourselves by taking a side and making a scene. And in doing so, we’ve figured out a way to dismantle complex ideas into simplistic, easily digestible things that, in the end, are ultimately disposable — until the next fight comes around.
2016 will bring all of these issues to another level in a way that our frustration is just begging to reach. And we will continue to separate ourselves by a lot more than demographics and literal borders.
Quite simply, let’s try not to do that. Let’s try to remember that typing angry screeds points to a lot more than raging against something or someone. Our anger is personal as well, so whatever trials and tribulations are in front of us in our daily lives shows in these moments of outrage.
So here’s what I hope for you, for me and for everyone we love, regardless of what we shout at each other at in the new year.
I hope you get the new job, or in the case of too many, A job that provides a bit more than a check, but a direction to wherever you need to be in life.
I hope your newborn is blessed by the most caring unions she may ever know; parents who love unequivocally, relatives who dote on incessantly and future friends who let her grow into her own being.
I hope you and whomever it is in your family that you are sparring with take steps to repair your relationship.
I hope you have a ball, jet-setting to wherever you are going… and you can actually afford to do so.
I hope you lose those extra pounds or quit smoking or read a few more books or… basically, I hope you actually live up to any resolution you set for the new year.
I hope you find someone who thinks you are worth it.
I hope you stop sharing those ignorant ass memes. In fact, I hope you don’t know what a meme is.
I hope you’re sorting out the differences between wants and needs.
I hope you win a few dollars in scratch offs, if not the lotto outright.
I hope you can shut off Twitter and Facebook for once. Especially Twitter.
I hope that whatever storm you are going through right now passes, with nothing but clear skies following shortly after.
Finally, I hope you play this song at least once before midnight.