It hasn’t been ‘the worst year ever’ just because of the passing of singers, actors and TV stars
- Credit: Archant
How do we measure whether or not 2016 has been a tragic year? For some, it hinges on the Brexit vote, which continues to produce a ridiculous amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth before any of us knows what it really means.
Others are disproportionately distraught at the election of Donald Trump as the next US president.
It's bizarre and a little worrying, but while the likes of Russia, China, North Korea and Syria continue to have far more menacing people at the helm, I refuse to join the chorus of despair.
Still others judge this year as tragic because of the deaths of so many celebrities.
Now I can empathise with this, having been rocked by the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991.
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But I was 17, at sixth form and such drama was almost compulsory.
I'm not 17 any more.
- 1 Part of seventh skeleton discovered in city street
- 2 Aviva to close two large office sites in Norwich
- 3 Nurse's 'heartbreak' over hospital care as her father dies on Covid ward
- 4 Councillor 'incandescent' over second-home owners breaking Covid rules
- 5 Fifteen flood alerts in place amid 'stay indoors' warning
- 6 Deputy lieutenant of Norfolk sells beloved thatched Broads home
- 7 'I've lost my pension': Car collection destroyed by 'professional' vandal
- 8 Norwich sees biggest rise in Covid infection rates in the country
- 9 Woman in her 20s among 31 Covid patients to die in five days at hospital
- 10 Timeline: When should you receive the coronavirus vaccine?
A few years later, the death of my beloved Gran reminded me what really mattered.
Countless others do not have such a watertight defence for their reaction when a famous person dies.
Some people have changed their Facebook profile pictures to the face of Carrie Fisher.
The same people have probably been David Bowie, Terry Wogan, George Michael, Alan Rickman, Paul Daniels, Johann Cruyff, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Prince and many more.
It's enough to give you an identity crisis.
And it's all rather mawkish.
On social media, I have read numerous '2016, how could you?' messages.
Others sum it up as the 'worst year ever' – worse, of course, than 1914, 1939, the years of Black Death or the horrendous famine in Africa in the mid-1980s.
It is the 'worst year ever' For goodness sake get some perspective.
While I can understand people loving Star Wars and therefore admiring its stars, it's beyond me how the death of Carrie Fisher can prompt a light-sabre vigil, or the death of David Bowie cause people to paint their faces and sit outside a house with t-lights.
Our obsession with celebrities means their exaltation to the status of angels and demi-gods is perhaps inevitable.
We probably see more of our favourite footballers and reality TV heroes than we do our relatives.
Sadly, some of us probably care more when they die, too.
It's a sad indictment of society, isn't it?
How many people change their Facebook status to the face of a child blown away by bombs in Syria, or the victim of the latest abuse scandal?
How many comment on the tragedy of another murderous bomb attack in a market in Kabul, or the shame of millions existing without clean water?
For me, the death of so many talented stars made 2016 somewhat of a downer at times.
Unfortunately, the deaths of people in war, famine and natural disasters registered little more emotion.
It makes me ashamed to admit it.
But I know that I am not alone in being nonplussed by genuine tragedies.
It's what our culture has made us become. And it stinks.