As posted on 10 things 2017 has made us do
Let this fact sink in: We’re not even half of the way through 2017.
Hasn’t it kind of felt like we’ve been in 2017 for a million years now? There has been so much breaking (and disturbing) news so far this year that surely it will all be over soon. Right?
Wrong. We still have a long way to go. And yet already 2017 has made its indelible mark on us and our everyday habits, even if we haven’t recognized it in ourselves.
The political landscape has changed, causing the world to change too. As a direct result, we have also changed to better cope and navigate our new reality.
Here is a deeper look at some of the things that 2017 has already made us do.
1. Either join Twitter or check it regularly.
Remember when you thought Twitter was the place where annoying people go to document every boring moment in their boring lives? Stuff like: "Hi, I’m getting dressed now" or "Hi, I’m going to the bathroom."
Well, even if you never thought that and have been an active Twitter user for a while, Twitter has made a fierce resurgence in importance to the point where people who didn’t like or want to like Twitter are now joining the platform.
The reason is simple if not distasteful: Donald Trump. First of all, it’s been well documented that our current president loves to share full-on rants via Twitter. Even if you don’t want to follow him on Twitter, for many it’s been worth it just to catch a Trump tirade as it happens. It’s like watching the "Scott’s Tots" episode of The Office. You feel horrified but you also have to see it at least one.
Thanks to Trump’s actions so far in office, Twitter has also become a breeding ground for resistance and conversation. Not only have there been legendary clapbacks from the likes of Hillary Clinton and J.K. Rowling, but entire Twitter accounts have been started to protest Trump’s agenda.
Most notably, an entire slew of alt-government accounts were created by America’s national parks to bring attention to the harm being done to our natural landmarks by the voluntarily blindfolded eyes of the administration to the effects of climate change.
With all this drama happening on Twitter, we can’t not refresh it like crazy.
2. Actually call or write a congressman.
How many times were we told when we were younger that if you are unhappy with something you should write your congressman? That’s how we learned civics worked.
In fact, how many times as an adult were we badgered with requests from all sorts of activist groups to call or write congresspeople on their behalf?
Answer: too many times. However, it wasn’t until just this year that most of us actually did call or write.
What a weird but satisfying feeling. It felt strange to contact this stranger who was making high-level decisions that would affect the entire country, and for some there may have been an underlying nervousness. What if they just don’t care about what I have to say? Does my voice actually not matter?
Despite these doubts, the urgency of 2017 has made reaching out to lawmakers a necessity. And the fact that you participated should be celebrated. Here’s at least one small thing to celebrate in this mess of a year.
3. Think deeply about the art of sign-making.
When you have a lot to say, when you have a lot of feelings, and you want to share it with your entire nation, you spend time perfecting the delivery of your message.
Ever since Trump took office, protests have become more frequent and visible than they have in a good while. With protests come signs, and with signs comes a certain level of planning. After all, you want your sign to be more or less aesthetically pleasing while containing a powerful but wittily conveyed message.
And you are not alone. Art supply sales went up after Trump was inaugurated, which means sign-making became a newly discovered hobby for much of the nation in 2017. And while it has given us a chance to get in touch with the more artistic side of ourselves, it’s also been kind of a depressing experience. You can’t help thinking while uncapping your Sharpie, "Are we still at a point in time where we need to put these basic tenets of being a good human being on a sign? People still don’t know this stuff?"
4. Watch award shows not for the celebrities, but for the political statements they might make.
We used to watch award shows to judge celebrities on their fashion choices or because we’re genuinely interested to see who will be honored for their work in the arts.
We’re still interested in that stuff, but the real reason we are now tuning in is to soak up all the juicy speeches that turn political.
Actors and artists have always used the award show stage as a moment to say something poignant, should they so choose. But ever since Meryl Streep engaged in the biggest mic drop in award show history, 2017’s award shows have become all about the political statement.
And as it becomes more common, stars have to start approaching their statement in new and unique ways. Because no one wants to just be a copy cat of someone else’s political statement.
As statements become more and more outlandish, so we care less and less about "hot red carpet looks." How idyllic those days seem now, when that’s all we cared about.
5. Watch The West Wing on repeat.
We’re not saying President Bartlet was the best president. We’re not even saying he’s the best TV president.
But basically anyone is better than the actual president, and people are unabashedly escaping to that. Motherboard recently reported that data from Google Trends show searches for The West Wing spiked when Donald Trump was elected and then again when he was sworn in. Essentially, you were not alone in immediately turning to Netflix in the wake of these depressing events.
And this makes complete sense to us. If our political reality is terrible now, why not immerse ourselves in a fictional political reality in between protests? And if Bartlet doesn’t cut it for us, we have so many other presidential options, running the gauntlet from MVP to completely ineffectual.
All are preferable to real life.
6. Watch C-SPAN.
This is how you really know the world has changed.
We watch C-SPAN now. We tune in like it’s the next hit show we can’t miss an episode of because otherwise we will have no talking points with our friends tomorrow.
We also now watch White House press conferences with similar fervor. The things coming out of Sean Spicer’s mouth are terrible but we can’t look away because at any moment that man could single-handedly create the next meme. We can’t stop.
Is this how we the people become more informed? Or is this just how we the people become so solidly cynical that we seize any joking opportunity that we can get?
We don’t know yet definitively, but it could be both.
7. Resort to witchcraft.
Yup. We went there.
While part of us wants to scream, "WHAT IS HAPPENING?" the other part of us knows exactly what is happening. And why.
8. Be afraid to check my phone.
There was a time when we couldn’t wait to look at our phone when we woke up in the morning. Any new texts? Any new Snapchats? Any new Instagram likes?
Today, we wake up and get notifications from CNN like, "President Trump institutes travel ban" and "President Trump accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping." It’s enough to make you want to throw your phone away completely.
9. Aspire to be a child.
More specifically, aspire to be this child.
Look at the way she struts. Look at the confidence she clearly has. This girl is unafraid and unaware of what’s currently going on in the wider world. She’s just here to crash the shot and live her life.
The same carefree attitude is pretty much nonexistent for us adults. We have all the things to worry about that comes with simply trying to live life. And now we have to deal with all of the things listed above. Sometimes, it’s just too much. Sometimes, we’d just like to be given the opportunity of busting into a BBC interview.
10. Be woke. (And also, adopt the word "woke" into my vocabulary.)
As much as we would like to be a child again, we can’t and we’re not. And this means we need to do the things children cannot do yet, which is stay up to date on the things that effect us both negatively and positively, and always stand on the side of what’s right.
Now more than ever, we need to do our due diligence. We need to distinguish the facts from the lies, call out the people that deserve it, and use our collective voice — usually though the internet — to hold others accountable. We need to "stay woke." It’s become a hip new phrase but the meaning behind the words is anything but a trend.