2018: Thank you, next

It’s the last day of the 2018. We are all feeling exhausted and philosophical about the year that was. Personally and culturally it’s been a year.

There’s something symbolic about the start of a new year. It represents opportunity and a clean slate. It lets us look back with nostalgia and also take another step into the future.

Whether you will be hoisted up on the shoulders of a stranger and partying into dusk at a music festival, in bed snuggled into summer linen, or having a quiet drink with a few friends as the clock ticks over and you count down with a cocktail mix of euphoria and melancholy on NYE – the new year should be embraced with a nod to what 2018 has taught us. The ups, the downs, and the wisdom we gained along the way.

Three years ago I was lost and alone on a crowded hill at Rhythm and Vines (I had ridiculously parted from my friends during the night’s revelry). There were so many people around me, and I felt so silly and lonely spending my new year’s eve alone. Then as 12am drew near and I gave up the fruitless search for my mates, R&V came through.

On the LED screens overhead a film began relaying the major events of the year. As sad as it sounds, my 20yr old self was super comforted by this wacky compilation of news-worthy videos. Inspired by this offering (with thanks to the gods of R&V), here is a list of the global events and cultural moments that captured our attention in 2018.

  1. Sabrina fans- the 31st of Jan delivered a total lunar eclipse which appeared as super moon or a super blue blood moon. Then later in July, the skies presented the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st It was a good year for covens everywhere, and 2018 was dubbed ‘The Year of the Witch’ for entertainment- representing of a time when women are taking their power back. Netflix blessed us with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina which got our nineties-babies’ hearts-a-racing, Bewitched is getting a remake, and old favourite Charmed returned.
  2. On March 14 we watched with hopefulness as thousands of high school students led the March For Our Lives as a response to the problem of gun violence in the US. The movement was particularly triggered by the school shooting which took place a month earlier at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Many other countries showed support for March For Our Lives in an attempt to put pressure on the US to tighten gun laws. If you weren’t moved by hordes of youth demonstrating collective dissent over senseless gun violence, then who are you really?
  3. Our PM gives birth to baby Neve Te Aroha. She is the second world leader in history to give birth in office. Neve’s middle name Te Aroha represents all the aroha (love) Jacinda received throughout the pregnancy, and her hometown in Waikato. New Zealand also celebrated the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. In a world first, a bill giving Kiwi women the right to vote was signed into law on the 19th of September 1893. In 2018 we celebrated that anniversary and the work of Kate Sheppard and Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia to secure the right for all NZ women to vote. Their legacy inspires a future of equality where women are granted the same rights as men in the home, workplace, and in society.
  4. A seventeen-day ordeal successfully ended in a Thailand cave rescue operation that had us clutching onto the news headlines. On July 10th twelve boys and their football coach were pulled to safety after a concerted and brave effort by international expert divers that took place over several days. Former Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Kunan will be remembered as a hero. He was the only fatality in this operation, and died trying to supply oxygen along the cave.
  5. In a historical win for stoners, this year Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use. New Zealand is currently weighing up a public referendum on recreational use for 2020 in time for the next election. Whether you’re for it or not, this conversation is long overdue for our country and it’s high-time to start reading the debates on this topic to get ahead with your vote.
  6. Over in the business world Facebook has a data leak that compromised the personal information of 50 million users. It was a bad year for the social media giant which faced mounting criticism over foreign election interference, the flow of misinformation and hate speech. Following the data leak, Facebook experiences the largest single day loss in corporate history, losing $109 billion in its market value. Apple Inc. had a better run, in August becoming the world’s first public company to have a market capitalization of 1 trillion. We don’t mind, Apple, if you could lower the price of iPhones. Thank you, please.
  7. In September, India decriminalises homosexuality. and ruled against the 160 year old law banning sex “against the order of nature”. Now LGBT Indians are fighting for the social perception and working to to eradicate discrimination. Chief Justice, Dipak Misra in his decision, proclaimed: “Social exclusion, identity seclusion and isolation from the social mainstream are still the stark realities faced by individuals today, and it is only when each and every individual is liberated from the shackles of such bondage … that we can call ourselves a truly free society.”
  8. In October the IPCC (United Nations Panel on Climate Change) released a report warning society that we have about twelve years to act on climate change or pass the point of no return, it is a desperate problem that demands “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. New Zealanders have responded with ditching the plastic bags at supermarkets for reusable ones. Small steps; but necessary steps nonetheless.
  9. Following the dismantling of Islamic State (ISIS) in 2017 after the Iraq Civil War, a landmark election was held whereby Iraqis could cast the power to vote and decide on their future. Iraqis elected Prime Minister, Adil Abd al-Mahdi; and President, Barham Salih. Iraq is beginning the process of rebuilding their country, and mending divisions between ethnic groups.
  10. #MeToo gained traction this year on a global level as many powerful figures and ordinary people came forward to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. Later in 2018, women around the world were hurt by the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court after Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony in a hearing of sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. Women around the world showed their support and a proliferation of anger ignited another cultural wave of the #MeToo movement across social commentaries and media platforms. The movement has pushing important conversations to the forefront that are commonly quietened in our culture. It is a critical issue that will not be silenced by cynics as we move into 2019 with a focused energy and ‘wokeness’ even if that makes us unconventional.

So it’s been a year. Many of these stories will evolve and continue into 2019. There’s been ups and there’s been downs, but if we take it on with perspective, we’ll keep rising from each experience.

Come along with me as I discuss life, art, and culture.

And whichever way you are spending NYE, a very happy new year to you!