2016, the summer of shit

2016, the summer of shit

Project illustrating how news and the media affects a child's imagination by Natalie Lipscomb

Project illustrating how news and the media affects a child's imagination by Natalie Lipscomb

Ah, summer! Time for barbecues, beers in the park and street parties. Even under the cloudy skies of Britain sandals and flowy dresses will appear as a testimony to that special time of year when things are supposed to be kept light. This year, however, between your friends’ latest Pokemon Go! adventures you’ll find death and despair in your Facebook and Twitter feeds – better stick to Instagram if you want to avoid any major concerns.

At the end of June, me and my boyfriend went to Sweden for a couple of days off. However, these days it’s hard to really get away. So, even though my phone was disconnected, I still got the bad news first-hand. We had just woken up but everybody else in the lovely cottage by the lake in the-middle-of-nowhere was fully dressed preparing breakfast (it seems that people with kids have different energy levels) and anxious to give us the facts. Britain had voted to leave Europe, Cameron had resigned from Prime-Minister. What did we think/feel about that? Cheezus! It’s hard enough to find your way to the toilet when you’re still half asleep. Can I at least have some coffee before acknowledging and reacting to my new political reality?

During the past month, I imagine millions of people felt more or less like I did that morning. Torn between wanting to escape their routines whilst being sucked right back into the harshness of a new reality. Talks about the Bastille day attack will have invaded your peaceful sunbathing in the South of France, the news of more black men killed by police in the States must have disturbed a friend or two during cocktail hour and Trump, that everlasting shadow over the future, probably stirred up another raging conversation around the camp fire. Where can you go to escape the awful events that happened this July?

The world is in convulsion and shows no sign of stopping for holidays. “If 1967 was the summer of love, then 2016 will go down as the summer of shit”, wrote the Guardian’s columnist Eva Wiseman in an article last week. The title seems appropriate for a time when most of us are thinking exactly what she says we’re thinking: “’Oh, what does it matter anyway, everything’s gone to cock’”. If only that state of mind brought some liberation, some sort of relief, but this is the summer of shit. Prince died some months ago and there’s no use pretending we’re going to party like it’s 1999.

There is a thin line between going away and running away. Okay, maybe it’s not thin, it’s a big fat difference. Everyone needs to step out of their reality every now and again - wanting to escape the world as it is now is almost a survival instinct - but what will happen once you’re back? All the racist slur that has been invading social networks and media in general come from people that have turned their backs to information and chosen the easiest of answers – which have a tendency to be the wrong ones. Immigrants are tacking our jobs. Muslims are terrorists. We’re better off alone. Mexicans are rapists. The people who believe this kind of crap may decide your future if you choose to be a bystander.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. Maybe instead of being shocked by the speeches of political leaders that spread violence and racism and asking ‘how is this possible?’ before turning off the TV, we should be asking ourselves what can we do to stop them.

May our holidays remind us of the treasures we take for granted: our loved ones, the feeling of security, the freedom of traveling without restraints, the beauty of our land, its history built on democracy and its values of equality. So that when the opportunity arises we are inspired to find ways of fighting to preserve those things and strong enough to brush away the fear from our hearts.  

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