13 Reasons 2016 Didn't Suck After All

Forget everything you've heard about our recent annus horribilis. Here's why life is not so bad after all

13 Reasons 2016 Didn't Suck After All
ILLUSTRATION BY PJ TAMAYO

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The big guy upstairs? Still knows what He's doing. - ILLUSTRATION BY PJ TAMAYO
ILLUSTRATION BY PJ TAMAYO
The big guy upstairs? Still knows what He's doing.

5. Because God called home His finest

David Bowie. Harper Lee. Garry Shandling. Merle Haggard. Leonard Cohen. Muhammad Ali. Prince. Carrie Fisher. So many beloved people passed away in 2016, it was easy to posit that God had simply given up.

And yet.

Yet.

As any Sunday School student could tell you, God isn't just omnipotent, able to force the winds and the waves to obey him. God is also omniscient. He knows everything, and He knows that shit before it goes down.

Which means God was fully aware of the sort of troubling political trends that flew right over the head of presidential pollsters and New York City-based journalists. God was aware Hillary Clinton simply couldn't be bothered to visit Wisconsin. God knew that Arizona was not ever in any way shape or form remotely in play. God saw the writing on the fucking wall.

And so God — all-knowing, all-loving, slow to anger and rich in love — called home his faithful servants in 2016. One at time, so as not to alarm the rest of us, he enfolded them in his everlasting embrace.

He knew 2017 was going to be a shitshow. He knew that moving to Canada is way hard even for people with tons of money — and remember, these people were seniors. Anywhere north of Missouri is far too cold for a snowbird.

So God in his mercy called his finest home.

Rather than mourn their loss, we should praise his munificence. The year 2016, in fact, might stand as the ultimate proof that there is a God — and that He cares for His people. Or at least for elderly celebrities. — Sarah Fenske

6. Because it has been 9,312 days since Guns N' Roses trashed a St. Louis venue

The fecal stain on the over-worn boxers of the mainstream rock & roll world, Guns N' Roses, may have completely trashed the legacy of once-respectable Pale Divine guitarist Richard Fortus (GnR's guitarist since 2001, a St. Louis native) — but at least the group hasn't trashed a St. Louis venue in some 9,312 days. Though douche lord Axl Rose threatened to bring his insufferable band of washed-up has-beens to town this summer as part of the band's "Not In This Lifetime" tour, it turned out that, for some strange reason (*cough* hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage last time *cough*) no venue in town was willing to play host.

Sadly, 2016 may be the final year we are able to celebrate this winning streak, as GnR recently announced a show at the very brave Dome at America's Center for July 2017. But before you rush out to buy tickets, be aware that reasonable seats for this musical abomination will run upwards of $250. — Drew Ailes

7. Because people are finally realizing that social media is a bullshit echo chamber — an epiphany they're posting on social media

Not to fuck up your day here or anything, but there's something you should know, something that people have finally started addressing since the 2016 election: Social media networks are not advocates for the public good. They are not elaborately constructed to disseminate useful information, cultivate well-researched opinions, or even help you cruise swimsuit pictures of your old high school classmates.

Nope — they're for-profit corporations that exist for one sole reason: to provide a return to their investors. Do you know how they make money? It's similar to the way that any content-generating organization works. They sell ads.Why do people buy ads from Facebook?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. Facebook boasts a gigantic number of potential customers — 1.7 billion monthly active users. Seems like every company would love to market to that number of people, right? Sort of. What they'd really like to do is market to the maximum number of those 1.7 billion who are ready to buy exactly the product they're selling, so the company can spend less money while still getting good results.

In earlier years, marketing was a mixture of educated guesses plus intuition. If you wanted to sell a device that helped old people call for help if they fell, you'd want to create a compelling commercial featuring that same demographic and pay to air it during television shows that these targeted buyers generally watched. You'd run an ad during the 1 p.m. showing of Loud Stupid Court Show on The Channel That Also Shows Murder She Wrote, Matlock and Some Shitty Baking Show.

But even then, advertisers didn't just reach quivering old grandmothers who frantically searched their musky purses for their Diner's Club credit cards. They also wasted money marketing to day-drinking kids who were failing out of college and tiny children who were plopped in front of the television after preschool by their parents (who tragically had no idea that, even when that child grows to be a 33-year-old who writes smarmy pop-culture lists for alt-weeklies, the voice of The Woman Who Had Fallen and Can't Get Up would reverberate in his skull forever).

Much as technology has improved in nearly every area aside from the fossil-fuel-driven auto industry, today's content producers are smarter and eliminate some of the headaches from marketing. Networks like Facebook do this by gathering as much information about you as possible. They figure out who your friends are, what kind of subjects appeal to you and what format you prefer it in. Then they take this distilled, hyper-focused demographic information and sell the opportunity to market to you directly, for better rates than anyone has ever seen.

The longer you spend on Facebook, the better they know how to market to you. Do you get that part? Their goal is to keep you there.Why do people decide to stop looking at Facebook? There are a lot of reasons — and Facebook already has a solution for most of them.

a. You see too many people you don't give a fuck about.

No problem. Facebook tailors your news feed and gives you more of the people who you have shown an interest in through wall posts, post replies and private messages, pushing everyone else out of sight.

b. You're bored.

Hey, you know what? Facebook can fix that, too. They can engineer what comes up first based on what works on people just like you. Check out this video about the mathematical underpinnings of beehives after we show you this opinionated post about Subway sandwiches from your male porn star friend and some pictures from a rock-climbing expedition that someone you almost slept with just posted. Now you're hooked again!

c. You're pissed off and want to go outside.

Lucky for you, Facebook can hide all the bad things that signal to the rational part of your brain to stop fucking staring at an endless feed of corporately mediated reality. You won't get frustrated and walk away just because your friend's dad posted an article about how climate change isn't real; you won't close your laptop just because your old co-worker shared four posts by Papa Roach to try and win concert tickets. Instead you simply click the little "hide" button and poof! Like magic, all discomforting opinions vanish.

Once refined, all that's left in your supposed representation of reality is what is called an "echo chamber" — rather than engaging in dialogue with people with varying opinions coming from different backgrounds and learning from each other, social media presents us with a carefully curated picture of what the world is. It's the same 300 people patting each other on the head, agreeing with every single word you say and occasionally offering a slightly different perspective that still aligns with your general paradigm. The newsfeed we see bears some resemblance to the privacy fences we erect between our homes and our neighbors' homes: We'd rather stare at a piece of comforting wood than see something or talk to somebody that might challenge us to think.

But finally, thanks to an election season that resulted in two entirely separate and distinct realities emerging among the left and right sides of the electorate, people are finally waking up to social media's troubling echo chamber effect. And wouldn't you know, they're racing right to Facebook to post about it? — Drew Ailes

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