Every year is simultaneously completely different and totally the same. Year to year, the specifics and details are interchangeable but the broad strokes are always unavoidably present. A calendar year is made up of a sequence moments, big, small, and everything in between, and those moments are full of emotion. Where that emotion takes us all depends on which one you’re experiencing. This is where 2014 sets itself apart.
You may not realize it, but 2014 tested you for 365 days straight. 2014 may have been a great year for you personally, but make no mistake, you just endured a year-long battle, and despite what side of the lines you were on, you fought along side your friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, associates, and total strangers. Almost everything you can think of contained a significant call to arms of sorts.
Here’s some of what 2014 threw at us…
2014 opened with one of the most brutal winters in over 100 years. Being a person who would eliminate cold winters in a heartbeat… I noticed. Most notably, on January 7th, all 50 United States reached temperatures below freezing. That was just the most unusual part. The length of its brutality varied throughout the country, but it was long and had outstayed its welcome almost immediately.
The harsh winter transitions quite nicely into the movie, Frozen. Although it came out in November of 2013, as far as young kids and their beaten down and broken parents are concerned, Frozen owned all of 2014 and has shown no signs of slowing in 2015.
In February, the Seattle Seahawks won their first Superbowl ever. That would have been an awesome story line for weeks to come, but I’m sure everyone remembers the Superbowl most for two main reasons: Richard Sherman screaming like a nut job at a confused Erin Andrews and the “controversial” Coke commercial playing “America the Beautiful” in different languages. The the sole purpose of the commercial was clearly to deliver a message of racial and cultural unity, and instead blew up the internet with racial and xenophobic comments as well as being called “anti-American”. Remember that this happened so early in the year and recognize the undertones that will become volcanic in August.
A little more February sports talk takes us to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, where the United States took home 9 gold, 7 silver, and 12 bronze medals. The irony is not lost on us how bad the conditions were in Sochi due to warm temperatures and how cold it was pretty much everywhere in the US at that time.
February 15th, 2014, a situation was born unto the NFL that in the months to come, would turn into one of the biggest blunders to ever be handled by the league. Ray Rice and his girlfriend are arrested in a casino on “simple assault” charges. It all started with this video.
Not that it really mattered what level of altercation was had, what was described as a “minor physical altercation” turned out to be anything but. The undeniable fact is Ray Rice knocked out his girlfriend in an elevator. When it comes to taking appropriate action, the Baltimore Ravens and the league dropped the ball in the biggest way possible. After months of “due process”, in July a 2-game suspension was given to Rice, igniting a huge domestic violence debate and spurred wide-spread accusations that the NFL has no value for women and women’s rights. In reaction, the NFL attempts to beef up its domestic abuse policy to try and save face.
Then September happened…
The Baltimore Ravens and the NFL front office just landed to face to face with their biggest fear; public video evidence of the truth they already knew. Rice was immediately cut from the Baltimore Ravens. The NFL front office denied allegations from the Associated Press of receiving the video back in April. To further the NFL’s obvious ineptitude, after serving an indefinite suspension to Rice, as a direct result of how horribly handled the entire situation was, the league loses Rice’s appeal case and Rice becomes NFL eligible again.
In the end, despite all the outrage toward the league and the perceived public humiliation the NFL was hit with, fans couldn’t keep away from the product. The NFL has proven time and time again that it houses and protects numerous less-than-savory characters within its confines and is riddled with scandal, but big business is big business for the gigantic nonprofit, and the show must go on. America needs its football.
And wouldn’t you know… cable companies love every second of the crooked viewership!
Also back in early February, Comcast sets in motion its quest to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, pending government approval. Should the merger go through, it will be the largest cable provider in the US. This pretty much spurs the battle of Net Neutrality, pitting the corporations against the general public. The internet is at stake and the battle rages on.
So who remembers this cute little symbol?
In April, the Heartbleed virus struck the web which was estimated to have opened 17% of the internet’s servers vulnerable to data theft. Have you changed all of your passwords yet? Probably not.
Same-sex marriage is an on-going debate in the US, but it’s one that the progressive populous is finally winning.
Throughout the year, many states at different times, lifted their bans on same-sex marriage on the grounds that the ban is considered to be unconstitutional. In 2014, the lifting of of same-sex marriage bans rose to 35 states. In 2015, if not all, expect damn near all 50 states to lift their ban. That’s one hell of a win for equal rights. (PS – the picture above is one of the funniest scenes in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.)
On June 13th, the LA Kings beat the New York Rangers and become Stanley Cup champions.
Spanning from about June through August, and most likely into September, the world collectively did one of the most amazing things with such a simple concept. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is by far the biggest win of 2014.
Awareness at its finest and fundraising at its peak potential. For a disease many people never knew the real name of, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised $220 million worldwide!!! Hundreds upon thousands of people participated in a harmless, well mostly harmless fund raiser. It wasn’t meant for everyone…
No Gremlins were made during the viral duration of Ice Bucket Challenge. Due to what seemed to be a total news feed takeover, the challenge was regarded as one of the most annoying fundraisers to ever hit the feeds of social media, but the result was nothing short of amazing. Of course, nothing comes without the complaints of the vocal minority, but the world got together and did something pretty remarkable, whether you like it or not. There is no doubt this is the best visual display of support, selflessness, awareness and giving 2014 had to offer.
On June 25th, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency publicly condemns the upcoming American comedy film The Interview, promising “stern” and “merciless” retaliation if the film is released. North Korea took an exceptional amount of offense when the movie’s plot turned out to be about killing their lord and leader, Kim Jong Un.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday and spanning for about a month after, Sony Pictures experiences a massive company hack resulting in 100 Terabytes of data stolen from their servers by the “Guardians of Peace”. After loads of damning information was leaked to the web, a 9/11 scale terror threat was posed from the anonymous group of hackers, forcing Sony to shutdown its Christmas Day release. Days later the FBI connects the hack with North Korea, making it the first time in history a country’s government attacked a specific corporation. Some still hold strong to the idea North Korea could never pull off a hack of this complexity. With the threat of attacks seemingly debunked, The Interview was released for rent digitally and in select theaters across the US. Chances are you’ve seen it more than once already.
Also humorous, Philadelphia Flyers Captain, Claude Giroux, was arrested on Canada Day for goosing a cop. No means no, Claude. Giroux has officially touched more policeman butt cheeks than Stanley Cups.
More with sports in July, Germany wins the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament held in Brazil.
A few viruses made their way into 2014, Ebola and the Mumps.
Ebola being the much more deadly of the 2, caused a lot of panic, rumors, and the creation of a bunch of internet memes. A slight overreaction to the reality of only 4 total US citizens contracting virus. The Mumps is currently still sweeping through the NHL, giving hockey players fat cheeks for a few weeks and reigniting the parenting argument as to whether kids should or shouldn’t be vaccinated.
On August 11, 2014, the world lost one of the greatest talents and entertainers that has ever graced the stage and screen, Robin Williams.
Fighting a number personal issues, Williams was said to have committed suicide, turning the internet into cyber mourning ground. The passing of Robin Williams turned into a very visible emotional hardship spanning across every single living generation in today’s society. Sometimes there’s just no denying you experienced the best there ever was at something. Other highly notable celebrity losses in 2014, the great Philip Seymour Hoffman and the very funny, ground breaking Joan Rivers.
In mid July and mid August, specific events occurred creating nuclear social and governmental issues, which almost certainly emotionally blanketed the entire year of 2014.
On July 17th, a situation was caught on film of Eric Garner being approached and attempted to be detained by police officers, resulting in Garner being taken to the ground in a choke hold. Experiencing respiratory trouble, an ambulance was called for Garner, who died shortly there after on the way to the hospital. Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted for what the public largely calls a clear case of murder.
On August 11th, Michael Brown, popularly described as an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. Riots and looting ensued. Five days later, Ferguson declares a state of emergency.
On November 24th, riots break out again in Ferguson, Missouri after it is announced that there was insufficient evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson. The protests include mass looting and the burning of 12 buildings in Ferguson, as well as 29 arrests. Protests also began to break out in other major cities including New York City and Los Angeles and continue on for over a week.
The national debate of general racism, racial discrimination in arrests, police brutality and the abuse of power by those in a position of authority had already been a well-fueled roaring fire. Social frustration quite literally took to the streets and the internet.
Die-in protests were performed in cities all over the US under the slogan “I can’t breathe” – words from Eric Garner in his final moments. An outcry for police officers to be required to wear cameras on their person became a widely supported solution. The rules or lack there of on the internet, bore a different beast entirely. Vigilante justice comes in all shapes and sizes on the web.
First person accounts of being racially discriminated against filled social feeds. Other cases of police violence were dug up and shared around from sources of all levels of credibility. Comments sections of relevant posts turned into cyber mobbings, gang-ups and internet beat-downs. Message boards, forums, and Facebook pages were created specifically to publicly “out” perceived racists.
Attempts at hoping cooler heads could prevail were made by delivering calm, “down the middle”-style accounts of the problem largely not being about agreeing on the social issue itself, but disagreements over the methods used to solve them and the polarization it creates between people who are actually on the same side. In this arena, it’s almost impossible to find an answer to please everyone. With the passion and momentum surrounding these racial and authority abuse issues, 2015 will without a doubt, be charged with continued demands for change.
Hacking and internet leaks were a huge part of 2014. This particular reveal was… particularly revealing.
Beginning on August 31st, a huge celebrity cyber hack, which quickly became known as “The Fappening”, released nude photos of various celebrities into the ever-spreading streams of the internet. Most notably of those celebrities was The Hunger Games‘ own, Jennifer Lawrence. The internet was not afraid to inform us that mass “fapping” ensued.
September 15th was pretty huge for the computing and gaming world, but the world as a whole doesn’t seem to grasp it. As per usual, the relevant South Park episode was right again.
Microsoft announces that it is purchasing Mojang, creator of the popular sandbox video game Minecraft, for $2 billion. Minecraft isn’t as sexy as your typical X-Box or Playstation game, and that’s how it is able to live under the radar. How well is it flying under your radar? Back in February Minecraft topped 100 million registered users and you still probably don’t really know what it is. The reality of it is Microsoft bought generations of perpetual loyalty as well as the corresponding gaming relationships of those generations. That’s a mammoth business move Microsoft was able to lock in with the very same fashion as Minecraft’s existence… under the radar.
You can’t talk about 2014 and leave out America’s Pastime, Baseball.
On October 29th, the San Francisco Giants defeat American League champions, Kansas City Royals, 4 games to 3 in the 2014 World Series.
November was a fun month because if it involves Kim Kardashian, the world stops doing whatever it’s doing and everyone looks. It’s like how car accidents cause traffic to come to a crawl, even after it’s been cleared from road because people can’t help but slow down to try to get a real good look. Kim gave us a pretty good look…
Kim Kardashian posed nude for the winter edition of the magazine Paper under the slogan “Break the Internet”. The internet didn’t break. Quite the opposite, the internet showed how crazy effective it was. In minutes, the photos were posted on every website you could think of and on 1000’s of users’ social feeds. Haters hated. Admirers admired. Protesters protested.
Nude photos being a controversy in and of themeselves, the photos of Kim and her certain bulbous bodily attributes tossed more fuel to the fire concerning the warped standards of beauty of the female form. Where editors see their photo manipulations to create “perfection” as an art, the opposition sees the manipulation as creating impossible physical standards for women to live up to and a psychological detriment to young girls who see those images and feel they need to meet those falsified standards.
December 28th marks the formal end of something the entire nation is filled with mixed feelings on.
For 13 long, bloody years, the United States has fought the war in Afghanistan. On Sunday, the war was formally announced to have ended. Even typing it out, my fingers feel heavy. It’s somewhat poetic that something so heavy falls right before a new year. Whatever your feelings are on the war and the perception you have on its ending, maybe for this one, put them away and keep them to yourself. We should all be able to reach the same logical conclusions of what’s most important here: In 2015 more American soldiers will be home and out of the face of danger in Afghanistan. In 2015 less American soldiers will become casualties because of the war in Afghanistan. In 2015, more families will be able to be united, whole and in their own homes again.
2014 was a tough pill to swallow. There’s a lot I didn’t mention like the ISIS crisis, the many school shootings/killings, missing plane wreckage in the ocean, huge entertainment news like the new Star Wars trailer or all of the Marvel and DC announcements. There was a lot of good things in 2014 to distract us from all of the less than positive occurrences that seemed to never end, but it doesn’t take away the fact that they were happening, happened or are still happening. We were tested this year.
Every new year we give ourselves the chance to do better. 2015 opens up a new calendar year of 365 days for us to try to do better than the previous 365. However it best suits you to make yourself a better person, 2015 is almost here, giving you the opportunity to prove you can be better. If there’s one thing 2014 has taught us, we can be better. Lets do that.
By: Eli Rebich