Nostalgia is a wonderful thing.
The luckiest get to remember the best and blurst of times as their star dims, and the details begin to fade away to fable. The most unfortunate just leave feeble, or in a flash.
As 21st century humans we have developed a frightening trend of leaving behind that which is perfectly serviceable or even superior – we’re fucking ruthless at it in fact. Though it’s our memories of what was that ultimately help us figure out what should be.
For people struggling to function in the now, a familiar pleasure of the past can just be a simple comfort in a not-so-pleasant present.
I often say to people I like to cherry-pick from yesteryear to improve today. Well – maybe in a manner of speaking because I’m not really a coked-up 1980s corporate writer, but I digress.
If you walk around my house the sprouts of technology are utterly surrounded by relics. From 90210 to The X-Files, comfort reigns supreme – but what happens when you inevitably need to move forward?
As it turns out, real life isn’t really a rose-tinted trip at all. It is an immensely stressful trail hike through terrain so treacherous that any marker resembling normality becomes an oasis for a thirsty traveller.
This lap around the danger orb was an utter decimation and total disregard of that which had become so reliable, formulaic, and predictable. About 25 years ago when this season of 2020 began, we all watched in horror as public health, politics, policy, and people were properly ravaged by a global event quite similar to one witnessed by our ancestors a hundred years ago.
What they left behind was the fable. What we failed to do is remember.
Welcome to 2020: A year in review.
Lousy Smarch Weather
At the risk of showing my age a little bit, I remember being on the cusp of a century turning in December 1999.
At twelve years of age the world is still very much your oyster, and in my case I was just a nerd filled with the usual basic desires of any spoilt first-born – probably Pokemon cards and Nintendo games, but really you could sub those out for any fad.
Even now as a fairly jaded adult, when entering a new year I still channel a bit of that innocent optimism and energy from the first weeks of January 2000. On a personal level I have had some pretty crap years, and I suppose I see 1 January as an opportunity to shut the door and truly compartmentalise the trauma of the preceding year.
Unhealthy approaches to dealing aside, the beginning of 2020 was no different. It was a 007-year, work was good (long-time readers would know this phrase has never appeared in print here before), and I had built some walls where some had needed to be built. Little did I know a veritable Y2K was just on the horizon.
When March hit, as much as things changed they also stayed the same for me personally. I’m quite happy with my own company until I’m not, but given a strong and consistent lack of engagement from members opposite, my journey was looking happily solitary. Entering lockdown was honestly business as usual.
The Prime Minister – fresh off the back of jetting to Hawaii as Australia burned in January – was merely wrestling with those shitty optics when he made a decision not to go to a Sharks NRL match on 14 March as the world began to smoulder too. Shutting down the economy for health reasons was ideologically inconvenient and not really a thought bubbling at the top of his mind.
Politicians of all creeds beg for crises of this nature because they allow even the most spineless git to profiteer in the popularity polls from pure disaster management.
Not one to shy away from a marketing op, the aforementioned spineless git – who was also not willing to allow his hand to go unshaken a second time – would eventually go on to close the international border and start handing out money to the very people he’d spent his whole political career demonising: the rapidly increasing queue of people applying for the ‘Link.
Just as we had all feared in 1999 with Y2K, things just sort of started falling out of the sky.
The people who were still working became intensely busy, and the people who were supposed to be intensely busy weren’t able to leave the couch as businesses were temporarily shuttered, and outlets everywhere went takeaway or delivery only.
Retail workers – who had not yet recovered from Christmas 2019 at this point – were again getting properly railed and abused as the most absurd displays of stupidity began playing out across the country. Fuelled by social media and the obsessive rolling news coverage, the panic buying began.
A run on toilet paper is a fucking ridiculous thing to consider when you stop for one second to remember that this illness does not cause you to shit yourself to death. Then again, some people bought so much that they might have been able to choke on it if they’d tried really hard.
Regardless, the situation we were facing was not a war and the supply chains were never at risk. The barren shelves – unnecessary.
While planes never actually fell from the skies at the end of 1999, the people with tremendously-low intelligence who fought in supermarkets across the world will be remembered as the true pioneers of stupidity – forever serving as a fond reminder of just how dumb the average person really is.
As life’s simple freedoms began to check themselves out of our hotels early, the trail into winter was looking mighty dim indeed. With movement restricted and plans essential, a piercing ringing sound began to fill my ears as the lousy days of Smarch dragged into April and beyond.
With the days contracting, a long dark winter joined the table for a banquet of Netflix and constant rumination. The piercing noise continued – ever present and growing in intensity with each twist of our polluted sphere.
On each day the sun may have set but the shrill howl of the mind would continue to burn bright. Displaying a character trait that is not my own, I put it out of my mind.
What was once an agonising incomprehensible drone slowly gave way to nuanced swiping and tapping. The noises were human, and extra voices were joining the table to feast on what remained of my sanity.
In what was surely an unprecedented event, my head exploded. The end.
There’s a late run episode of The X-Files starring Bryan Cranston where (1998 spoiler alert) the central plot involves a malicious classified government experiment using long radio wavelengths. Through a bunch of criminal happenstance, Bryan’s character ends up in a car with Mulder and forces him at gunpoint to drive faster and faster in a single direction across the USA. Through some swift detective work, Scully realises the man is experiencing side effects of the experiment and his head will explode from the pressure if Mulder stops.
As the flow of information increased substantially during this year, mis or otherwise, my brain felt like it was expanding outwards against the shrunken skull cavity I necessarily developed to deal with the direction we were heading in.
In the midst of it all we’ve been surrounded by the lavishly warm glow of our devices, which have been the harbingers of death as much as our saviour. The constant news cycle became as exhausting as Mulder’s drive, but what else were you supposed to do?
Unprecedented this, record that – our use of English became as limited and specific as the lockdown conditions. What’s worth teaching here is that the word learning is a singular noun. The take home lesson is you are learning English when I explain that to learn is to carry out the process of acquiring knowledge. ‘Learnings‘ is not a valid pluralisation of learning and shut the fuck up.
But the travesty of life and language only really started there. The endless bombardment of what-if scenarios only really worked to fuel an existing insanity in the community while most were stuck inside. The most unprecedented spotlight shone not on the rational, but on theories so mad as to have necessitated certain intervention with lobotomy during the last global merry go-round.
Eventually the unfortunate big players in news – Twitter and Facebook – started flagging some of this shit but the damage was already well cemented. With President Fa
ctcheck doing nothing to pour cold water on any of it, the mindless got to keep swiping.
My favourite conspiracy theory involves the ‘timing’ of the virus’s discovery and the simultaneous rollout of 5G networks – starting in China. Allegedly dreamt up by none other than philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, the theory implies the increased penetration of 5G networks across the world was a deliberate ploy to spread the virus (via radio waves obviously) and infect millions so “big pharma” can profit. Ay caramba.
Not quite sure how big pharma can profit off the dead, but please, go ahead and regale me (don’t).
While all those dead shits in Byron Bay were dancing around in groups, banging drums, and holding iPhones up in front of transmission towers during lockdown, someone should have mentioned that radio waves of all bands and radiation penetrate the atmosphere of this orb 24/7.
He who shall not be named
As people began clawing each others eyes out in supermarket aisles worldwide another obvious theme emerged this year: selfishness.
In fearful times of despair where do people normally turn? A deity? No stupid, of course it’s inwards.
If social media and the internet have fuelled anything at all, it’s self-gratification and the projection of a desired fantasy persona that is certainly not genuine, to be judged at the whims of fingers mindlessly motioning across screens everywhere. And by golly, was there some time to mindlessly motion during this calendar year.
I learnt a long time ago that every social media platform just moulds itself into whatever its end user wants it to be. For example, if I was an imbecile and partial to Peta Credlin’s opinion, maybe I would follow the Sky News and News Corp pages before blowing my idiot brains out. But shortly before doing that, along the swipey-road The Algorithm™ would surely present me with some other things along those lines, as well as some nice ads to suit.
Like a Bloodhound sniffing out a body, we constantly search for validation and for membership to the echo-chambers which pump out information we like reading. One particularly orange-coloured example even weaponised it to engage with a willing contingent who licked it all up like a cat on milk.
Though in yet another case of pathetic limp-dicked right-wingery, the only strong-arm tactics the Oompa Loompa in Chief really managed to master was avoiding his obligations as a world leader and cheating on his golf courses as frequently as his wives.
In the communications world people talk about pivoting and deflecting: substantively ignore the issue raised and talk about what you want to talk about instead. Vice Rear Admiral Draft Dodger may as well be Mike Tyson in this arena, with a right-hook almost as big as the ego it’s attached to.
Even drawing from the rage of the lowest IQs simmering in the loudest echo-chambers, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater began to falter in the second half of 2020 as all the pivoting burned a hole into the rug all the corpses were being thrown under.
Unfortunately for Supreme Leader Dead Shit, the “hoax” was spreading so rapidly it even began wiping out his own team. Along the way he decried it as something that would magically “disappear”, be cured by sunlight, and suggested to one of that nation’s highest ranking medical officials at a live press conference that maybe injecting bleach was a viable option (I watched it live – he was dead serious).
In an outcome surprising approximately no one, Captain Cuck ultimately ended up going viral and testing positive for this year’s most delicious case of irony. Transmission received – over and out.
After an utterly failed response to an emergency even Spineless-Scotty from Marketing was able to capitalise off, everyone’s favourite rotting orange was finally testing negative to public sentiment and positive as a loser walking in to the November election.
The weeks following everyone’s collective sigh of relief were used not to graciously accept defeat and pivot toward healing a broken nation. Instead, Charmander held B and stopped evolving, choosing Flamethrower. It was not very effective.
History’s sorest loser and one-term failure has since super-spread at delusional self-congratulatory rallies where he has continued to claim victory (hint: he lost by a lot), has had national networks cut away from his press conferences, and lost more than 50 lawsuits attempting to overturn democracy.
In the end
2020 was your one shot. Your one opportunity. If ever you were going to seize a moment and live life as a hot mess – this was your year.
Completely unchecked, lunacy has run wild and been the saviour of us all in some way. Just look at how much fun we got to have looking back at some of the markers along the trail. In the face of professional pressures (of which there were many), chucking the garden hose in this pond means things must surely be getting back to normal – at least a little.
While 2020 has been a certifiable fucking disaster, there really is a lot to look forward to next year – Vice Rear Admiral Draft Dodger has finally received his marching orders and will be evicted from The White House, probably divorced, and banned off Twitter all in the same week; any opposition to a vaccine will quietly evaporate as the freedom to pollute Bali becomes forever linked to a compulsory shot; and maybe some people will even learn how to frame themselves on a webcam. There was No Time To Die in 2020, but you can rest assured there will be in 2021.
The possibilities are endless as the timer runs down on this cursed year. If they aren’t – I’ll see you on the next lap around the danger orb.