As is done every year, Merriam-Webster has announced the top word of 2016 to be ‘surreal’. Interestingly enough the word of the year is generally based on look ups and searches, not situations. Yet, one can argue that this year’s events and situations have lead us to ‘surreal’. 2016 has been quite a strange and ofttimes puzzling year.
We have seen the rise of Donald Trump from soundbite billionaire to President, plots straight out of film that included Russia and sabotage, deadly terror attacks, and the deaths of Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, as well as others. At times even I sat and bewilderment reflecting on how reality felt bent all of this year, between headlines that seemed staged and shocking. As the sign of the times, TIME Magazine recently proclaimed Donald Trump ‘Man of the Year’ in a political atmosphere that saw Brexit and many world leaders stepping down.
We have had some positivity with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson becoming an official world wide phenomenon, establishing himself through social media, television, and film. He owned everything from Instagram to Snapchat, while also getting kudos for his show “Ballers” and movies “Central Intelligence” and “Moana”. The year has been a big one when it comes to disenfranchised minorities. Riz Ahmed, who starred in HBO’s “The Night Of”, also dropped an album through his group “Swet Shop Boys”, and had a supporting role in Disney’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. Couple that with Rogue One’s lead female and minority cast and you have a pretty strong representation of the future of entertainment.
The conflict of Syria ballooned with hundreds of thousands dead, more tortured, and the world watching. As we sit and deal with the debacle our politics have turned into, we were silent to a massacre that was upheld in the name of not making waves in the global narrative. This didn’t mean that we were blind to it. Twitter, Instagram, and more were lit up with the harrowing aspects of a blood splattered civil strife. As our alliances become more and more convoluted, the common citizen is in awe at how in the dark we really are. From Snowden to Manning, this year has catapulted the concept of the hidden government agenda even more. This has opened investigations throughout the world and even crippled the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
As we gear up for an unknown 2017, there is chance that our word should be ‘hope’. A hope that there is more to what is going on in this world than pain, hurt, anger, and racism. There is a hope that we see through the destruction of the registration of a certain minority, the stronghold of civil rights, and the end of inhuman practices. These might seem like dreams but in a world where we are finding cures for diseases, educating the masses, and focusing on renewable energy, this should be the norm. Here is to a year with a word that gives us more than a thought of ‘what if’.