As we approach the end of the year, I look back with a mix of awe and regret.
We witnessed heroes of the arts leave us: David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman to name just three. We saw a referendum result lead to a destabilised Downing Street and put the pound near to breaking point. And most recently, we observed a toupee-wearing dark horse become the president-elect.
Social media users and bloggers throughout cyberspace have colloquially defined this year as the worst in recent memory. Whether it’s for England crashing out of the European championships or because Honey G failed to win the ‘X Factor’, many see 2016 as a calamity.
Surely there has to be a silver lining hidden somewhere amid the last 12 months.
One highlight came from world of football, where Leicester City defied all odds to become the Premier League champions. Over just 38 games, the Foxes went from relegation favourites to the title. Above all, the small club proved that passionate ambition could triumph over simply paying to win in football – something that has been almost unheard of in the modern era.
Although, after I place my football-based bias behind me, the title-race did have an admittedly small impact on the real world.
Perhaps the past year did contain some glimmers of hope, for a more environmentally-friendly planet. Over the course of the year, a plane flew the circumference of Earth on solar power alone. In May, Portugal ran solely on renewable energy for 107 hours, as well as 50 million trees being planted in a single day across India.
There were also dramatic improvements in animal conservation. The number of wild tigers grew for the first time in 100 years and the giant panda is no longer considered endangered.
While the environment has taken a pummelling throughout the last decade, maybe we can view 2016 as a step in the right direction. As our global society gradually begins to move away from outdated fossil fuels, perhaps we can begin to hope for a greener future.
A final area to take note of is the progress made throughout science and technology. This year saw the ascendance of virtual reality, especially through the world-gripping phenomenon ‘Pokémon Go’ – which encouraged avid gamers to ditch the sofa and head outdoors.
The world’s first ‘driverless’ truck made its maiden voyage mid-October, highlighting the newly found use of autonomous vehicles on the roads. With companies such as Tesla, Ford and BMW all announcing plans for varying self-driving models in the future, is this the year visions of the future begin to crystalise as reality?
So maybe this year wasn’t as bad as the average Twitter user would have you believe. While far too many were complaining on social media, a revolutionary few were changing the world. Perhaps we should put the pessimism aside and try our best to embrace the positives instead.
Let’s end this year with ambitions for the future, not with nostalgic longing of what might have been.
-- Patrick Gembis is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds