One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that 2016 has been universally shite. All the best celebs have died, we voted for Brexit, and Donald Trump was elected President. I’m almost convinced that there could be a God after all, due to 2016 looking like an elaborate practical joke contrived by a mischievous overlord. And that’s just a brief summary of all the terrible things that happened last year up until the beginning of November (I’ve probably missed a few, so much bad shit went down last year). Also, these are things that were of note in the white, middle-class, Western world. That’s just the frame of reference that I have. Things might have looked a lot rosier in other cultures (every cloud, etc).
On 12th November, Twitter user @christhebarker created a Sgt. Pepper-themed montage of all those that 2016 had stolen from us (although 2016 really wasn’t done by this point). Hover over the picture for more info about those in the image.
But after that, we needed to add another whole damn row, because 2016 is a right bastard, apparently:
|Is 2016 all that unusual? Yes and No. The number of celebrity deaths, international incidents, wars, and other human-induced clusterfucks is no more than in any other year, proportionally. But as I said at the start, the events that have caught our attention have been skewed to the Western middle-class span of interests, and so it looks like we’ve been particularly hard done by this year. And there are other confounding factors. Think about when we started to define people as “celebrities” by modern standards – it was around the time that television really took off, from the 1950s. People who made their name in early TV are well into old age now, and those household figures who have become so familiar are just like any of us, mere mortals. So this might be the start of a wave of well-known figures dying off. Which would make 2016 seem less exceptional in a few years from now.|
Some of those celebrity deaths have been of relatively young people – Carrie Fisher, Prince, George Michael, David Bowie – but even though most of us will make it into old age, there is a sizeable minority of any population that is just unlucky and dies young. I know people who’ve died in their 20s, 30s and 40s. All of these deaths are tragedies, but they’re not as unusual as we think.
And even if 2016 is a statistical blip (which it probably isn’t), such is the nature of chance. If all deaths occurred at a uniform rate, then THAT would be unusual. So whatever it is; more celebrities getting to an older age, more people being recognised as celebrities, better media reporting, whatever – we are just going to have to accept that Shit Happens. And 2016 was really shit, wasn’t it.