It’s November, which means it’s almost December, which means we should all brace ourselves for the annual onslaught of resolutions, recriminations, and recollections. It’s the time of year in which pundits big and small bust out of dusty closets and use the arbitrary markers of human time to wax nostalgic on the collective conscious. Folks, it’s almost time for the deluge of Year in Review lists.
A Google search for “year in review 2012” yields over 3 million results. In theory, these lists are a way to reflect on the year that’s past, laugh a few laughs, sigh a few sighs, and collectively pray that the next year won’t lead to similarly mind-numbing displays of human error. A quick trip down memory lane 2012 by curators such as Google, The Atlantic, and Yahoo include the following trends and obsessions: the iPhone 5, Miley Cyrus, Hurricane Sandy, The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, Gangnam Style, The London Whale scandal, and Whitney Houston. (Looks like 2013 will have some repeat offenders).
With so much information streaming in and out on a minute basis, it’s natural that news bites large and small can seize the spotlight and be forgotten only moments later. We no longer read the newspaper only in the morning; we no longer work 9 to 5. Not only are we constantly feeding on information, processing, interpreting, and moving on, but also, we are creating information at rates that make data scientists sweat with excitement — the lines between news consumption and creation are blurring rapidly with the likes of Twitter and even as I write this blog post.
Despite the jumbling of time, and hence events, into networks of occurrences, we remain human, are bound to biological clocks, and rise and fall with the sun. We rely on the countdown to the New Year for self reflection large and small, perhaps even more so because it’s the last semblance of control we have over the countless streams of data pouring in.
So to all the writers preparing your lists, and to all the readers searching for memory jolts (this author included), perhaps it’s time to add to the 2013 Year in Review a mandate to recall more often, particularly the events whose transience begets apathy, and whose repetition in 2014 will not be so welcome.