There’s not a lot everyone can agree on, but there’s one thing that’s for sure—2016 was shit. A quick lil Twitter poll (very scientific, I know) showed that people really do think 2016 is the worst year of the 21st century. If we’re talking about horrifying years, though, 2016 was actually pretty unexceptional compared to these 10.
- 72,000 B.C.
We almost went extinct. A volcanic eruption in modern-day Indonesia forced rock and magma to be hurtled across continents. (I shit you not, continents.) The population was reduced to somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 people.
Over the course of eight years, the plague killed 200 million people.
It seemed so nice in grade school! Remember the poem? “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and MURDERED AND RAPED AN ENTIRE CIVILIZATION WTF.
Every shitty movie gets an even shittier sequel! 1666 is the sequel to 1348 – more plague. The black death killed over 100,000 people, and the cherry on top of this year was the Great Fire of London that burned down an entire city! Woo!
There isn’t an exact date, but this list wouldn’t be complete without the peak of the interstate slave trade. If your biggest worry of 2016 is a horrifying government gaining power over the U.S., take a peek at the U.S. Congress in the 1830s that proudly refused to listen to anti-slavery protests, passed the gag rule, and sent a quarter of a million enslaved people to labor on lands only recently taken from Native Americans.
Everything was bad. Andrew Jackson left office. Martin Van Buren. Panic of 1837. More interstate slave trade. More massacre of Native Americans. Seminole War. The preparation for the 1838 Cherokee Trail of Tears. Elijah Lovejoy was lynched.
Did you get the flu in 2016? Did it kill you? Because it killed about 100 million people in 1919. Then, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles, which led to Hitler’s reign of power.
The Great Depression! People literally burned dolla dolla bills to keep warm, while listening to the rise of Adolf Hitler and his first concentration camp, Dachau.
WWII was progressing, and the U.S.’s delightful response was to intern hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans. In my opinion, this is quite possibly the lowest point for America. We don’t talk about it enough, and it’s a shame we’d compare anything awful in America in 2016 to the crimes our country committed in 1942.
This year, the Rwandan genocide killed 800,000 Rwandans in just 100 days.
While flipping through the most disastrous years of our time on earth, I probably could have added another 10 to this list that qualify as significantly worse than 2016. This is not all to say your problems with 2016 are without reason. This year was shit. And the terror you might feel for the aftermath of this year is real. We had Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the Pulse nightclub, Charleston, Zika, Brexit, DAPL, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, Prince, Mohamed Ali, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, John Glenn, Leanard Cohen, Carrie Fisher, countless more deaths and painful terrorist attacks. It was awful. It was the year of the dumpster fire.
But, come on: it was not the worst.
Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.