2021: A Year in Review

Abby Mills, Photography Editor

2021 was the morning after 2020—its hangover. The world had to pick up the pieces left behind after one of the most tumultuous years in recent history. Society learned to adapt and live through the ‘new normal.’ People hopefully looked to the future for change but became disillusioned with the world as the year dragged on. If 2020 gave the world whiplash, 2021 slowly squeezed the life out of it. 

The year started with a bang. The world watched in shock—America in shame—as glass shattered on Capitol Hill and hundreds of terrorists flooded the historic landmark, eradicating any notion that compromise was obtainable in the country. The event emphasized a clear truth: America was split in half, and nothing could bring it together. 

President Joseph Biden was presumed to be the man who would put America back together, heralded as America’s savior and only hope. But his first year in office only tore the country further apart. The nation looked to its leader for guidance, only to find a weak man full of false promises and inaction. The nation’s politicians did little to benefit the American people in 2021. 

After 20 grueling years, trillions of dollars gone, and thousands dead, the War in Afghanistan ended. America retreated from Afghanistan just as quickly and hastily as they entered it. The Taliban, a terrorist organization, controls the country.

America first promised the country democracy and freedom. Twenty years later, Afghanistan became a war zone for 20 long years, only to be taken over by a group that goes against every one of America’s basic principles. 2021 put an end to this shameful war but reminded everyone that time, money, and lives are gone. 

In the future, the year 2021 will be synonymous with the coronavirus. By the end of 2020, the public was optimistic that the virus would be less contagious. But as the year continued, it became increasingly clear that things would not get better. When compared to 2020, COVID-19 in 2021 was undoubtedly worse. According to UN News, COVID-19 cases and deaths  tripled in America just this year. The number of COVID cases rose as restrictions continue to be less severe. Mask and vaccine mandates became political talking points instead of matters of public safety. As time went on Alpha, Delta, Omicron, and Flurona all started to sound the same to the public. In 2021, the world seemed preoccupied with getting society back to normal—instead of slowing down the spread.

One of 2022’s biggest challenges is combating misinformation. If 2021 has taught us anything, it is the power of fake news. Propaganda spreads with every click, reaching more people rapidly each day. As it expands, its impact grows. Misinformation on social media makes people cynical towards respective institutions like the government or media. Although it is healthy to have a tinge of cynicism towards these institutions, it can quickly become a problem. For example, false information caused thousands of people to die from COVID-19, falling victim to widespread deception. The news has twisted tight into a ball. People struggle to pick it apart, unable to decipher what is fake or real. 

The past two years have opened up Pandora’s box. Nothing can be expected or predicted anymore. People live in the moment, expecting the worst to come, prepared for anything because nothing is out of the ordinary. No one knows what will come next in 2022. The world shattered into millions of pieces, making coherent narratives unmanageable. There is no normal anymore. 

In 2020 people deluded themselves into thinking that things would go back to the familiar. They clung to the dream that a few things could stay the same. It was only in 2021 when the crushing realization hit, like a boa constrictor wrapping around the world’s neck until there was no room to breathe, slowly suffocating its inhabitants.

2021 was the year the world stopped being identifiable. A year of change and acceptance. A year where people desperately tried to move on. A year of trying to heal from complete social upheaval.