From the NSA/GCHQ spying revelations, George Osborne’s lame action on climate change and the creeping privatisation of the NHS, to the phone-hacking trial, the deleting of the past, drones and the funeral of a tax-evading PM, heck this world never runs out of ways to prove how crazy it is.
But 2013 was for me the year that ‘how?’ and not ‘why’ became the most important question. You want change? Then how?
Russell Brand’s October Newsnight interview may have articulated what many are thinking – where are the genuine alternatives? – but Paxman was clear to push him on the ‘how’ and not the ‘why’ of his call for revolution. Change? How?
To many Newsnight devotees, Brand is nothing more than a wild-haired vagabond speaking from a position of luxury without any real chance of causing a threat to the status quo. To many others, his answers made it seem OK not to give a shit.
Whether we are ‘overwhelmed by the scale of the problem’, as Paxman says, or we believe voting doesn’t make a difference, as Brand, and voter turnout make clear, change is very difficult to make if people don’t know what different will look like.
The deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela this year highlight that the Right and the Left are both struggling to find the noted leaders of today and tomorrow. The public look both left and right to see if someone will put their head above the parapet. We fail to see that leaders are just ordinary people who believe they can make a difference. And then try to do it.
If your movement shuns hierarchy, as Brand alludes to in his interview, how do we create structures that people can believe in where no one is in charge? If the mainstream media will not listen, how do you capture the hearts and minds of the people you need to take with you?
So despite yet another year where we were shown in technicolour ‘why’ people should care about politics, ‘why’ change is necessary, the ‘how’ is for many still the long-begging question.
And in absence of one easily digestible answer, many have yet again turned to the banal, the trivial and the things that waste time to see them through to a lonely retirement where they will be worse off than their parents. ‘Guilty pleasures’ – reality TV, getting 30 things from Primark for £50 and making unnamed jibes to people on Facebook – have become legitimate ways to see through your days.
So, save being able to actually make the world a better place in 2014, here are eight things from 2013 that I really hope we can see the back of:
Both actual and illustrative ie. found on bags, purses, pens, notepads and just about anywhere else you can stick and sell them. It doesn’t even have to make sense!
But what does it ACTUALLY mean?
Same goes for beards. But it’s particularly the long, real-world beards where food gets stranded that make me feel sick.
2) Small dogs.
I like dogs, don’t get me wrong, I am human after all. But 2013, at least within the London Bubble, became the year when dogs became equivalent to having an actual personality. And not even the kind of dogs that might symbolise being brave and loyal, just the ones that need a coat and a carry to the local shops.
Add to that dog pictures/cat pictures/cute pictures of anything that is unlikely to save the day.
3) ‘Everything was literally awesome. Jokes.’
Nothing like a bit of empty sentiment in 2013. Don’t worry, we Instagrammed, Pinned, Tweeted and Facebooked it too. Just to make sure everyone knows how literally ace it all is.
4) Non-hero worship.
TOWIE bloke on Big Brother, the X Factor, Miley Cyrus, that bloke who did the sexist song, GoggleBox. Yes, 2013 seemed to be the year when we celebrated the not-even-a hero.
The British have always loved the anti-hero too. He’s not your typical arse-licking leading man, but he may almost get the job done. Or you’ll at least enjoy watching him try. Both Boris and Brand, our archetypal anti-heroes, have had a pretty good year. But ask them for the details and they will likely just throw a long word in your face.
I’m not saying hero worship is any better but look further than the Daily Mail’s Sidebar of Shame and you might have seen one person jailed and another in political exile for bravely putting their lives on the line to show you just how badly behaved your government really is.
5) Box sets.
Nothing says ‘I’ve found the person I want to waste my life with’ better than watching box sets.
Where does all our time go? We still spend an average of four hours a day watching telly. About 120 hours per month. Plus online, tablet, smartphone.
I’m sure your nan can just drive herself to the doctors…
If you want a better world for people and planet, it’s up to you to work out how to create it. As Edward Snowden said: “I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
And if you don’t, enjoy filling your brain with garbage and squatting on the planet while it lasts. ‘I mean, of course we all hate politics, but you can get lost if you think I’m going to do anything about it!’
8) ‘Top X’ lists.
Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Elite Daily… Hey, I enjoyed ‘6 Speeches the Conservatives Don’t Want You to See‘ perhaps more than most, but the news is more complicated than ‘Top X’ lists. And a lot of the ‘stories’ are just (albeit touching) nonsense.
Here’s to a 2014 we can all be proud of.