By ERIC MCKENZIE
The year of 2011, like its predecessors, was a year filled with calamity and diversion.
The Mayan’s predicting 2012 would be the end of the world but it seems we’ve constructed a soft nest of distractions to sleep within the chaos and destruction.
Students were too busy to notice in March when earthquakes in Japan gave us a worldwide shudder, killing 15,828 people.
The Arab Spring movement, which saw revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and a Libyan civil war which ended with the capture and death of Muammar Gadaffi, only became viral in North America when news that the Internet had been censored or banned reached our online discussion boards.
Most Canadians were watching or talking about the royal wedding in April, according to the top Google searches of 2011. With many Canadians living below the poverty line what makes us so obsessed with an affluent ceremony for a family we don’t even know?
We only nodded our approval for a brief second after Osama Bin Laden was killed and thrown off a boat.
There was a larger and more profound impact on young Canadians after they found out former leader of the New Democratic Party Jack Layton, and then technological guru Steve Jobs died.
Many felt as if their flocks had lost their way in 2011, losing brave and competent shepherds.
Some could not take the injustices they saw and attached themselves to the international occupy movements across the planet.
Occupy Wall Street, a diverse collective of activists camped in New York City’s financial district, spawned numerous other public tent cities, many even becoming violent. “Occupy the world” was short-lived but the emergence of public upheaval in 2011 shows that it will be remembered as an important origin point when the movement likely resurfaces.
When it came to the election, where were we? Not at the polling booths. Studies showed Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 had a voter turnout of about 37 per cent in the 2011 federal election.
Maybe it’s because young voters were too busy searching for Rebecca Black’s Friday on YouTube, which got almost 10 million views this year.
Whether you were talking about how awful her song was or how amazing it was, you were talking about it. Black and her wealthy parents are the physical embodiment of the popular culture craze and how in 2011 money rules all.
In retrospect 2011 was a year in which we should have chosen action but instead we chose distraction.
Daniel Pinchbeck summarized it best in Breaking Open the Head. He said, “We live in a world of media overload and data smog, where everything distracts us from everything else. In my crisis it seemed like a diabolical mechanism carefully designed to keep people from wondering about the real purpose to their endless frantic activity.”