Unless you've somehow avoided the news for the last year or invested in Bitcoin a long time ago, it's safe to say that 2017 has been a cornucopia of sadness, turmoil, and despair. Even if you had a great year personally, the bigger picture shows just how messed up our world is — and how that mess reached its peak this year. But there are a number of things we can find solace in, even if we have to look really hard. Google's 2017 'Year In Search' video rounds up the good, the bad, and the ugly (mostly the last two) of this year, and offers a different approach to inspiring us.
The video is not scored with an "In The Arms of an Angel"-esque soundtrack, and does not make an attempt to immediately soften our hearts. Instead, it kicks off with a drum beat that echoed my heartbeat as I waited to see what traumatic world events would be rehashed in the video. There is plenty of gut-wrenching footage featuring refugees, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and Donald Trump. I'm not going to lie, I was tearing up about 20 seconds in. How has this year even been real?
The year 2016 left us with so many questions, but if Google's "Year In Search" video shows us anything, it's that we are determined to find the answers. The theme of the video is "how," which Google says we asked "more than ever before" in 2017. More specifically, we asked "how to." How to make. How to help. How to be. The searches demonstrate an overwhelming dedication to standing up, speaking out, and fighting back.
While many of us are still reeling from the results of the election (don't worry, I see you), we have it somewhat easy compared to what so many others have been hit with this year. Natural disasters, refugee crises, and mass shootings have affected millions of people — many of whom are still searching for closure, safety, and peace. But even those who haven't been directly affected searched for ways to help; "how to help Puerto Rico," "how to help flood victims," "how to help Somalia famine." In a year when it would have been easy to curl up into the fetal position and stay in bed for self-preservation's sake, we've decided instead to partake in the radical act of doing something. That's pretty powerful.
The positive highlights in the video feature real moments of inspiration — not just memes or significant sporting events. There is footage from the Women's March. There is footage of Jagmeet Singh, who this year became the first non-white leader of a major Canadian political party. There is footage of football players taking a knee to protest police brutality.
The inclusion of these moments, as opposed to moments that have been included in past videos, signifies an important shift in the way we look at progress. Rather than sugarcoat the video with non-political memories that simply ignore the heartbreak, injustice, and frustration we've faced, these moments acknowledge that sometimes, some really messed up stuff has to happen in order for us to move forward. In fact, "how to move forward" is one of the searches highlighted in the video.
The video closes with Lena Waithe's Emmy acceptance speech. This year, Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series. In her speech, Waithe says, "The things that make us different — those are our superpowers. Go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it." Despite what we've already gone through this year, and what is coming down the pike next year, Google's "Year In Search" makes me feel grateful to still be in this world, and ready to continue conquering it.
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