I wanted to know why my friend Swamp Rabbit was hard at work writing down his worst blackouts of 2018.
“It’s New Year’s,” he said. “I need to take stock.”
He noted that we humans like to compile lists of things, to put these things in categories, in order of importance. We like to read other people’s lists and compare theirs to ours. List-making helps us feel like we’ve processed and understood all the information the media has bombarded us with.
“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “We don’t understand anything.”
“It don’t matter,” he replied. “All’s we need is the illusion of understanding, of staying on top of things.”
We especially need end-of-year lists, he continued, and it doesn’t matter how ridiculous the topics are — most uninspired movie sequels, hottest male and female pop tarts, most persistent political cliches, most dominant athletes, most submissive athletes, best ukulele players. We need to share these lists, to argue about them.
“I don’t see the point,” I said.
He paused to sip from a juice jar full of bourbon. “There ain’t no point, it’s just fun. Don’t you know what fun is, Odd Man?”
There was nothing fun about 2018, I told him. Humans set new records for killing off other species. Sea levels rose faster than had been predicted. Environmental protection laws were undone by our evil idiot president while floods and fires scarred the landscape. Do people not notice what’s happening?
“You got a good list going there,” he said, ignoring the question. “Ten news stories that prove humans are doomed. You should finish it up and post it on your blog, the peeps will love it.”