Well, Christmas has past and New Years is approaching and between now and then, tis the season to review the year. Everyone and their mother feel the need to rehash the past 12 months, as if we weren’t along for the ride. Every magazine I receive has it’s annual Year In Review issue out. Every blog is covering it. Every website out there is busy reviewing their year. Even Christmas cards come with amazingly annoying 3-page letters informing us of every single inane and mundane detail of Aunt Mildred’s life and the lives of her family, friends and, of course, her cats, Fluffy, Peepers and Hermione.
I’m just not sure I understand the need to re-chronicle every stupid thing that has happened this past year though. My memory is pretty good, I can still remember who won last year’s NCAA Championship, so my magazines aren’t doing me any favors. It’s hard enough reading most blogs as it is, but rereading them is simple torture. Reviewing poorly written ignorance is far beyond cruel and unusual. And I just don’t know of a single person who could even remotely care that Aunt Mildred’s newest kitty Hermione is the cleverist kitten ever.
Still, the year end reviews are unavoidable. If you read anything that isn’t a book over the next week or so, you’ll inevitably read some kind of yearly review. You’ll read about the best and worst of 2008 as decided by arbitrary people who probably aren’t qualified to decide which is which. What ever happened to letting old acquaintance being forgotten and never brought to mind? Whatever happened to the good that men do lying interred with their bones? What’s with the analysis of something that we just got through analyzing?
When the election was going on, we drubbed it to death. We wrote about every imaginable aspect of it. We know that Obama won and that Palin believes people and dinosaurs coexisted. We don’t need reminders. The same is true of every notable event from the past year and this new-fangled interweb allows us to easily access that information, so it’s not like we’re documenting for posterity. People won’t need to read a year in review to know that Joe the Plumber had his fifteen minutes of fame, that The Sopranos ended with a cut to black and that after decades of rumors and promotion, Guns ‘N Roses finally released Chinese Democracy in 2008, all they have to do is Google it.
Maybe there was a place for year end reviews in the past, but we have instant access to any little minute piece of information we want these days, and even if we didn’t—if we can’t retain the information for twelve whole months, it just couldn’t possibly have been important enough for us to remember in the first place. I guess the point is that the past is supposed to be prologue and if that’s the case then the parts of it we failed to commit to memory couldn’t have been all that important in the first place. The song has it right. Let the trivial bits of the past year fall away, look to the future and let the historians worry about the documentation.
Happy New Year.