Was 2016 a good year?

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We are now a week into 2017, and we will never see 2016 again. I’ve heard lots of people saying that 2016 was a terrible year. The reasons greatly differ, but some of them are the many celebrity deaths, the result of the election, the many terrorist attacks, the death of a random gorilla who then became a post-mortem celebrity getting more than 15 000 votes for the presidency, etc.

I also know some people who tought that 2016 was a great year. First of all, for every person who complained about the result of the election, there is a person who was happy with it by definition. Some other people simply tought that this was a great year for movies, more specifically Deadpool, which has exceeded expectations by a huge landslide. Elon Musk also mentioned his own existence a little more, so even though he’s been working on huge projects for a while now, lots of people only figured it out this year. And then, some people also found a pretty awesome blog and started reading it, and that certainly made their year great.

So, was the year just average, like every other year?

Well to be honest, I’d have to say no. For an individual, a year is as good as that person experienced it, which will be hugely different depending on who you ask. For example, pretty much everyone agrees that the terrorist attacks were a bad thing, but some people were affected a lot more than others. The victims and their families probably had it the worst, then anyone who lost something because of them is next, like the owners of a place where a bomb exploded, a politician who didn’t seem “strong” enough to fight ISIS efficiently, etc. Then there are the everyday people, who weren’t affected in any “real” way, but probably felt varying levels of sadness because of the events.

So, depending on who you are, the year might have been great or horrible. But for once in my life, I think I actually can agree with utilitarism (eww) in that case. I think a year is exactly as great as the sum of the greatness experienced by the people. Then, we could calculate the greatness “for America” by only taking into account the experience of americans, and so on.

But you also have to take something else into account. The people you actually care about. If they had a great year, then you should be a little happier, since you care about their well-being. And if they had a bad year, then you should be a little sadder.

So, the most realistic way to judge if a year was good or bad is probably to ask everyone you care about if they liked the year, then add up all those answers while taking the degree into account (really loved is better than barely liked), and add your own experiences on top of that, multiplied by your selfishness level, and you can figure out if the year was great for you.

Or you can just go with the social expectations, and answer with the vague but “normal” answer that is “2016 sucked, but I wish you a great 2017”. Then you can go on making great resolutions and break them after a week.

This is a lot less honest, but if you don’t want everyone to think that you’re weird, that’s probably the way to go. In my case, everyone I know already thinks that I’m weird, so I don’t really care. I can go full blown pointless utilitarist calculations instead of conforming to expectations, and they don’t really care anymore.

How do you figure out if the year was good or bad?