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Opinion: Top Contradictions of 2016

By Steve Stajich

It was not “the worst year ever” for us. Get with some Syrian refugees on how bad things can get. But it was a year of often baffling contradictions. As they say with gas mileage, your results may vary. But here are my favorite contradictory behaviors for 2016 and likely on into the New Year.

Fake News vs Fact Denial

It was clear that fake news stories were more than just Internet click bait when a man entered a pizza shop in Washington DC and squeezed off a few shots thinking he was about to expose Hillary Clinton’s child sex ring. Now we became alarmed about “truth.” Yet we elected a wholly inexperienced person to run the country based on the emotion-stirring lies he shoveled out like cattle feed during rallies; lies that we knew were lies. Do we really seek truth and defining clarity about the world we live in… or are good and pleasing stories just good stories?

Beyonce vs Hillary

Beyonce sold recordings, advertised her recordings and filmed her recordings bathed in what seemed like a white-hot light of feminist pride and empowerment with nods to America’s racial past and present. We loved her for it. Hillary becoming the first female president? Not so much. Are we down with female strength in pop words and cinematic deed, but afraid to let a woman have real political power? Clinton won the popular vote, but without enough margin to beat the retro-licious malarkey of her opponent. No lemonade from lemons for Hill…

Pot vs Guns

Each day when we awoke, we must have told ourselves that the violence in our cities and homicidal insanity made possible by readily available guns could only be stopped by one thing: Legalized marijuana. Otherwise, why so many states flipping over for pot? Gun control legislation wheezed and stalled and continued to get bumped to the bottom of government ‘to do’ lists. Easier access to weed? Yes, by all means, let’s get right on that. Let’s get that legislation going as fast as we can… dude.

Privacy vs Facebook Likes

To hear the chilling stories of private information obtained and then exploited because we ourselves posted it to the Internet, you’d have to think that by now we’d be curbing our exposure. Instead the greater the amount of personal information we can yield online, the more we might experience gratification in the form of followers and “likes.” I’m quaint in the way I struggle to keep my credit card information offline by paying with cash and checks when shopping at, whadya’ call them, stores. I also don’t share with friends on FB that “We’ll be away from our home and property for two weeks while we’re in Hawaii…” but then… I don’t get that many “likes.”

Smart Phones vs Smarter Users

Down a similar road, we have apps for everything and yet there’s no hard evidence our technology is causing us to evolve in any significant way. Our phones have security and anti-virus programs; our school buses are still cheap tin boxes that can be driven into a tree by one negligent human behind the wheel who possibly didn’t download the safe driving app. We can fact check anything and yet, well, see “Fact Denial,” above.

Boomers vs Death

Not to ever be glib about the passing of talented people, but it occurs to me that my fellow ‘boomer’ generation friends are not quite ready to accept death as part of the experience of living. Never have I heard so much gnashing of teeth as I would when yet another great performing artist passed away this year. 2016 wasn’t doing it to us; time was doing it to us. If this is going to be the attrition rate while folks are in their 60s, I worry there will be actual howling in the streets as people cross over in their 70s and 80s. Am I personally prepared? I don’t want to go tomorrow, if that’s okay. For one thing, I’d like to stay and see how this Trump thing plays itself out. And for another, the best response to fear of a terrible moment waiting down the road is to live the current moment to the fullest. So a toast to life… now. Happy New Year!

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