While 2016 has been worse than average when it comes to people leaving for that great after-party in the sky, it's not an unholy anomaly. The real issue is the fame of the people checking out. Bowie and Prince are universally recognized names, whereas you probably mourned David Carradine in 2009, but couldn't remember if he was alive or not if we had asked you five minutes prior.
They estimated fame based on how many Wikipedia pages link to the celebrity's Wikipedia page. Most of Prince's link to sex acts that require additional explanation.
Recency bias might also be a factor. We were all sad when, say, Christopher Lee died in 2015, but he hasn't perpetually weighed on our minds every day since. And Time pointed out that sheer age is also a factor -- a lot of today's big celebrities are baby boomers, and that generation is starting to go. So 50 years from now, when we're all in nursing homes, our children will be crushed that they've lost Justin Bieber, Drake, Kim Kardashian, and Charlie Bit My Finger all in the same year.
The United States' Most Contentious Election Was In 1876
David McNew/Getty Images
There's no denying that the 2016 election got ugly. Real ugly. Spray tan ugly. Americans felt they had to choose between perhaps the two least-deserving candidates ever to run: an openly antipathetic basic-cable celebrity and a politician with a vagina. Nobody was in a good mood. Things were said, emails were leaked, pussies were reportedly grabbed, and people lost hope in the electoral process itself. But despite all of this, the election was nowhere near as nasty as it could have been. For that, we have to go all the way back to 1876.
During the 1876 U.S. presidential election, Rutherford B. Hayes took on Samuel J. Tilden, in America's greatest grudge match to ever involve such old-timey names. Brutal attacks rained down from across the political spectrum. Tilden was accused of being everything from a thief to a "drunken syphilitic," and the question of whether he was healthy enough to run for president was constantly raised, despite a lack of evidence (he lived for another decade). Meanwhile, white supremacists threatened newly enfranchised black voters in the south to keep them from voting for Hayes, and the Democrats had some key votes annulled because they were found to have committed voter fraud by using misleading ballots. It was whatever the 1876 equivalent of a clusterfuck was. A hootenannyfornication.
Also, this man ran as a third-party candidate, and America tragically refused to declare him King for Life.
The Republicans countered by also committing voter fraud. During a recount in key states, Republican-controlled election boards began throwing out ballots for Tilden that were considered suspicious, on the grounds that wanting Tilden to win is mighty suspicious for a true-blooded American. Long story short, everyone was trying to commit fraud everywhere, all of the time.
The election wasn't decided until March, when a special committee (which had its own corruption issues) assembled to decide what the hell had happened. They awarded 20 disputed Southern Electoral College votes to Hayes to put him over the top. Southern Democrats agreed not to challenge the results in exchange for a variety of political concessions from Republicans which included letting racists take control of the South again. Depending on which modern historian you ask, this was either highway robbery or the result that probably would have occurred anyway if everything was done legally.
It's also important to note that Hayes, who went on to be a rather average President, lost the popular vote. Tilden, who had garnered over 250,000 more votes, commented on this by saying, "I can retire to private life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office." These are words we assume Hillary Clinton is getting tattooed across her back right now.
Thanks, Electoral College!
This doesn't make the tone of the 2016 election any better, but if the U.S. could survive the nonsense of 1876, it can survive anything. That's the lesson to take away from all of this. When you have a terrible year, you can't give into gloom and despair. You simply have to put it in context, realize we've survived worse, and try to make the next year better.
Mark is on Twitter, and wrote the greatest book of 2016.
Also check out 8 Huge Stories Nobody Paid Attention To In 2016 and 15 Events That Would Redeem The 2016 Train Wreck.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out The Coolest Space News No One Is Reporting, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.