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Thursday, March 30, 2023

There is a very strong consensus that 2016, quite frankly, sucked. Maybe folks are blaming it on the massive political overturns happening across the world (including both Brexit and the U.S. presidential race) or the devastating acts of violence that occurred last year. Maybe it was the staggering number of influential celebrities that left us in 2016 or the fact that the globe mourned a gorilla for way too long. Maybe it was the sudden influx of creepy clowns lurking in people’s neighborhoods (seriously, what the heck was that one?). Regardless, there’s no denying that 2016 was an eventful year, but it was not necessarily eventful in a good way.

So what does our generation do to combat that?

Naturally, the internet came to the rescue, providing humorous pictures and quotes about hunkering down and preparing for the upcoming year or wishing that 2017 won’t be nearly as chaotic as 2016 was. They’re funny, offering a little chuckle during one’s morning social media check.

But what good are a bunch of pictures, a bunch of retweets or a vague “Please be kind, 2017?” A small moment of humor that eventually turns back into a nagging pit of despair?

Yes, last year sucked. Yes, a ton of crazy stuff happened that no one had any control over. Yes, a ton of crazy stuff happened that we might have had control over — opposing political parties, foreign intervention, corrupt or ineffective systems, social media, regular media or whatever the new excuse of the week was. Yes, it was all a mess.

But if all we do as a generation is complain about it and posts memes, then we don’t have the right to complain.

Do you want to make sure 2017 goes better? Here’s what you do. Be kind. Be respectful of other people. Combat hatred and fear and paranoia with respect and love and kindness. A lot of people are going into 2017 genuinely worried for their lives. Let them know you will be there for them.

The world has always been a weird, chaotic place and, yes, it seems like the right reaction nowadays with tools like Twitter and Facebook is to get on a soap box and start screaming out against everything that is wrong. Sometimes you will have a point. Oftentimes you are screaming at people who are screaming back at you, and what you really need is someone letting you know that they are there to support you.

You have the power for positive change. Sometimes it’s easier to hate. Sometimes it’s easier to hide. But those actions won’t change anything. If you want to make real change in the world: start small, start positive, start kind. Don’t go on a Twitter rant about how hopeless the state of the world is. Don’t get into a comment war with your roommate’s distant uncle on Facebook. If you’re really bent on making a huge impact, figure out where your anger and frustration is directed and find out how you can turn it into a force for good. But if you just want to see some light in the world, remember that making someone’s day is as simple as a compliment in the Starbucks line or reminding your mother that you love her.

So as we enter 2017, keep in mind that, yes, the world is a crazy place and it can suck, but what is important is remembering the good in it and being the good and kind force in the world that you wish to see.

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