A year of outrage

By Howard Feldman

I can never be disappointed in a year that made me a grandfather. Nor can I be upset with a year that allowed me to turn 50 in good health and surrounded by cherished family and friends. But that aside, 2018 was not for the feint of heart.

The past year spared no one. In particular, South Africans have not had it easy. Year on year the country is in a significantly better place than it was in December 2017. Earlier today someone mentioned the name Dr Nkososana Dhalimi- Zuma. It sounded familiar, but for a moment I couldn’t quite place it. How long ago, I wondered aloud, was she a factor in SA politics? The person who had mentioned it looked at me like I was suffering from something. “Less than a year ago!” he said. “In November and December last year there was a real chance that she might have become President.” “Naa,” I said. “I am sure it was 2 to 3 years ago. This year could not have been this long.”

Turns out, it was.

2018 might have flashed past in some respects. Before we knew it was June and then August and then the year was done.

Our obsession with social media in many ways obscures the length of the year. Simply explained the hyperbolic reaction to specific stories, which then disappear just as quickly as they developed interposes peaks and troughs to the year. So much so that by the time we are onto the 5th or the 6th “Catastrophe” it becomes impossible to recall the one before.

Take a look at the “racist ranters” as an example. Was Penny Sparrow this year or last? Adam Castavelous? Vicki Mombeg? Was the H&M “Cutest Monkey” story 2017 or 2018? With so many flashpoints occurring over and over, it becomes almost impossible to move through the year at a regular pace. Did Melania Trump wear her “I don’t care, do you?” jacket this year or last? We seemed to spend our year oscillating between outrage and horror.

Any wonder that come December, we are exhausted and depleted.

Emotional energy is quickly depleted. And not easily replaced. There is no quick drink or power nap that allows us to quickly recuperate. Unlike gym, we also seldom allow ourselves a “Rest” day or a “Cheat” day where give ourselves a little bit of time to recover. Social media and social outrage is on-going, non-stop, unrelenting and unforgiving.

It’s like eating sugar. It is so good at the time that we consume it, but if keep doing it, it will make us ill.

That in a nutshell is 2018.

It’s probably too early to start speaking of New Year resolutions. But here is something that might be worth contemplating. What if we made a decision to have that rest day. To “Cheat” from time to time but not keeping up to date with the latest outrage event. Perhaps if we allow ourselves that concession then we might be a little less depleted next year this time.

That’s worth Tweeting.