This Is The Moment
The year we started compartmentalizing events and feelings, and overusing the word “moment”
HIRTY YEARS AGO a wise young man pointed out, possibly for the first time, that “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.” It was true when Ferris Bueller said it (on his day off, no less), and it’s even more true today — only now you haven’t truly looked around unless you’ve posted an accompanying commentary about it on social media. The speed with which news stories are consumed, digested, and forgotten is fast enough to train astronauts. The incessant hunger for content (and the attendant, and inevitable, outrage it inspires) has popularized a term that fashion and media insiders have been using for a while to describe whatever is trending: “Having a Moment.”
While the term is accurate, it’s also kind of sad — and not just in the parents-dancing-to-beyoncé-way that all clichés are sad. It’s a quiet admission that our collective attention spans aren’t sturdy enough to maintain interest in a subject without a finite amount of time attached to it. A moment has a beginning and an end. Problem is, the issues at the heart of many of our present moments don’t. Social justice is having a moment; racism, sexism, intolerance? That shit isn’t momentary.
So, before we move on to the next topic, we should take a look at some of the most prominent “moments” of the last year or so. Because it’s possible that while we were writing and promptly forgetting our hot takes, we missed a moment or two, or more importantly, missed what we should have learned in the moment. After all, life moves pretty fast.
TMore than 20 years after O.J.’S infamous trial, the disgraced former football star was everywhere, inspiring a nauseating nostalgia in anyone who remembers where they were when they heard The Verdict. Two — that’s right, two! — major series re-examined the case and the phenomenon. The first, a fictional retelling starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and David Schwimmer, garnered several Emmy nominations. The second, a fivepart ESPN series, stands as one of the best documentaries of the last decade. In a cultural moment when truth and justice have never felt more tenuous for more people, dredging up the past can seem the most prescient thing to do. We didn’t even know David Bowie was sick when, just 10 days into the new year, we found out he’d succumbed to cancer. Same thing a few days later with Alan Rickman. Then Harper Lee, Garry Shandling, Merle Haggard. Prince. Gene Wilder. Maybe 2016 wasn’t an anomaly — lots of people die, celebrities are people, ergo, it happens. But in the social media age, when everyone is clamouring to define themselves against the news, it seemed to hit harder; people mourned longer, shallower, more publicly. The real lesson from January 10 wasn’t just how great Bowie was — but how many of your friends were secretly such big Bowie fans. Instagram was supposed to replace magazine advertising. It didn’t. This was the year people finally stopped paying attention to people who are famous for being famous, or for curating and capturing their douchey lifestyles on the Internet. In a notorious interview with prominent (but anonymous) social media executive admitted that “influencer” campaigns don’t actually work. Soon afterward Kim Kardashian was robbed during Paris fashion week. Coincidence or the system eating itself to death? Scary either way.