2016: A Year To Remember (in infamy)

A year has come to a close and it has been a shocking one, to say the least. 2016 will definitely go down in history as the year with the most bizarre, terrifying and surprising events, and it’s fair to say that many of us are not sad to see it go. Here are some highlights:

1. Celebrity deaths

This year saw plenty of celebrity deaths, including icons like Muhammad Ali and Prince. Let’s not forget some of our dearest entertainers, Alan Rickman (aka Prof Snape) and the fabulous David Bowie. As if it couldn’t get any worse, singer George Michael died on Boxing Day (at a young 53) AND Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia) passed away after experiencing a heart attack on a flight. It seems that the Grim Reaper was very busy this year.

2. Political surprises

In June of this year, Brexit came as a shock, as the world wasn’t prepared for the 52% who voted to leave. This tiny +2% margin was all it took to push the UK on a course to leave the EU by March 2019. This may also mean students in the UK will have to say goodbye to the ERASMUS programme.

Another political surprise came in November with Trump winning the election. It didn’t get any better with his choices for the cabinet, or his actions with regards to China. The word on everyone’s minds: WTF? While we cannot speculate the impetus for these events, there’s no denying that both Brexit and the Trump election fueled mass hate crimes on both sides of the pond.

Another political event hit closer to home, when South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, was impeached on 9 December following massive protests across the country. This year’s bizarre events have definitely made us pay attention to politics for the first time since we could read.

3. Total recall

Samsung had a blast this year, but not in a good way. Everyone knows that they recalled all their Galaxy 7s due to exploding batteries – it’s gone to the point where even bringing them on board airplanes is prohibited (and punishable in the US). As if it couldn’t get any worse, people found out that even their washing machines were explosive.

Their massive blow somehow masked another company’s cock-up: GoPro’s latest drone – ironically called Karma – was recalled because they kept falling out of the sky. It barely lasted a month in the market.

4. Plight of refugees

War-torn Syria hasn’t had a break – the mass migration of Syrian refugees was a huge topic this year, not to mention the mass killing of innocent lives that has yet to see an end after more than 4 years of war.

Meanwhile, close to home, Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingyas was one of the main topics buzzing around social media during Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Singapore earlier this year.

5. Fake news echoing around social media

Thanks to algorithms, lack of human oversight (by social media companies), and lack of caring if what we read is true or false (by all of us), fake news propagated our social media feeds this year, like never before. The irony is that these fake news sites are owned and operated by… teenagers in Macedonia! Then again, they shouldn’t really be at fault for simply feeding us clickbait articles, because technically, double checking facts should be something we should do before we share ‘shocking’ news with our friends.

6. The rise and fall of Pokemon GO

Even if you’re not already addicted to PokemonGO, you’d probably know what it’s about. Launched just in July of this year, it was an incredible hit with fans, attracting large crowds of players creating nuisances in public – so much so that some sensitive sites have blocked PokemonGO from using their locations as PokeStops. But as big as it became within a month of its release, its popularity seems to have waned just has fast.

7. Singapore in the World’s Spotlight

Singapore had a lot to celebrate this year, and most of them have to do with our bright young things paving the way overseas: Joseph Schooling. Nathan Hartono. See Toh Sheng Jie. Yip Pin Xiu. Kyra Poh. And the team at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School. Whether they’re bringing us glory with gold medals, or winning our hearts with their performances, these youths are definitely ones to look out for in the coming years.