OPINION: Ctrl + Alt + Del 2015
The exhaustion, negativity and cynicism of 2014 was largely washed away by the ocean waves of the December festive season break. We returned optimistic and eager to the promise of a blank canvas and a new year. Three weeks in, Mandy Wiener reckons it's time to reset the clock on 2015 and ask for a 'do over'.
2014 was tough. As we collectively limped towards the December holiday, there was a sense that the year had had a more significant impact on the nation's psyche than normal. Much of this undoubtedly could be attributed to the Oscar Pistorius trial and the fact that most lived it vicariously through the live TV broadcast, internalising every gunshot and scream. It took a toll emotionally. Coupled with the chaos of Parliament, the Nkandla saga and the fact that it was an election year, we were all left reeling.
But with our outlook exfoliated by the beach and washed a little cleaner by the sea, we returned to reality with the requisite optimism and hopefulness of a new year. We silently prayed for a quiet news cycle and some respite from the scandal-laden headlines of the past few months. We fooled ourselves into believing we would all get along, Eskom would keep the lights on, the e-toll gantries would morph into rainbows and Zuma would pay back the money.
Just one week into 2015 this romantic notion was destroyed by a massacre. Fanatics armed with assault rifles mowed down a dozen people at the offices of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, triggering three days of terror. In response, two million people along with 40 world leaders marched together in a rally of national unity as the world adopted the slogan 'Je Suis Charlie'. The newspaper's decision to place the Prophet Muhammad on its front page ignited an already volatile tinder box and in just one week of 2015, the world shifted a little more off its axis and closer to self destruction.
Here in South Africa it's all escalated pretty quickly too - like Twitter on a Saturday morning.
It seems our festive season hiatus served to ignite the passions rather than dull them and we've plunged headfirst into the most fiery debate possible - the 'National Question'. A global showdown around religion wasn't enough. We had to wade right in to the subject of race relations.
Journalists and editors have drawn swords as if they're in a scene from the Hunger Games, penning columns thick with acerbic accusations and desperate defences. From 'White Internet' to 'Black Twitter', it's all been pretty full on, angry and ugly. Zelda la Grange's Twitter tirade exposed our deep need for a national discourse around race relations and how we've been muddling along, fooling ourselves into believing the Band-Aid was making it all OK.
With our timelines polluted and heavy, at least we had the hope of Afcon success to cling on to. We believed that Shakes had turned it around and on the back of a string of successes, this could be our time. That hope was given credence with Thuso Phala's goal but was slowly eroded as the boys blindly searched for the back of the net in vain. Then an own goal, followed by two more from Algeria and the dream seemed shattered. I know there are two more games left and we can still win this thing, but we're feeling deflated. We also know from experience that our support for our national teams is as fickle as their performance on the field.
In response to that Afcon performance, the ever-on-point Ferial Haffajee posted 'Oh! No! 2015: to be honest, I'm not feeling you. Rewind.'
I couldn't agree more. We need a 'do over'.
Yes, I know that it serves no purpose to stick our heads in the sand and pretend like all is well with the world when it is so glaringly obvious that it is not. But hell, wouldn't it be easier to hit reset and have a glass of wine?
The only real flaw in pushing Ctrl + Alt + Del on 2015 would be that we would erase AB de Villiers's spectacular, history-making knock at the Wanderers on Sunday. We would do well to keep those fluffy pink highlights stored on catch-up on DSTV to get us through the reality of the rest of this year. We're going to need them.
Mandy Wiener is a freelance journalist and author. Follow her on Twitter: @mandywiener