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The End of the F***ing Year

A gloomy day in London, December 2020.

I’ve been thinking about the end of this year and I imagine curtains closing—the velvet drapes sweeping to meet in the middle as it hides away the stage. But instead of the end of a play, it is the turn of the magician’s trick—the second act following the pledge, when the magician makes a promise. As the lights dim and the audience holds its breath, the magician prepares the next act, this third and final act, the reveal that upturns the spectators’ assumptions.

What the trick is, I don’t know. We started 2020 hoping that we will have a better year, the bookend to a decade that was in many ways crazy and exciting and sad: the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok (which was—perhaps—the death knell for bloggers-as-opinion leaders, to be replaced by social media influencers); the explosion of the #MeToo movement and “Black Lives Matter”,  putting front and center social inequalities, except unlike before when we only had mainstream media to spotlight these issues, now everyone who had a mobile phone could easily pitch in the conversation; the age of disinformation ushered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which also leads us to ask: are we actually free, or are we just biological switchboards that can easily be manipulated by pushing a few buttons here and there?