Look, no doubt about it, 2016 was the worst. The election was a drag, the Olympics were meh, and in general it seemed that live was a little edgier. And then there were the celebrity deaths. Starting with David Bowie in January it was everywhere from music to movies to athletes – it seemed every ten days or so we were losing someone many of us cared about. And the only thing that they seemed to have in common was this stinking year. But I have another theory; maybe for a good number of these deaths 2016 was not the reason at all (and yes, I know cosmically that is true as well so save it . . . .)
Here is my thoughts on the issue, I will begin with my father. I lost my father in 2005. He was 53 years old. He did not die because of some mystery ailment, he was an addict. he was addicted to so many things we kinda lost track. Multiple pack smoker a day, chronic alcoholic, ate poorly, prescription drugs. You name it, he loved it. In the 70s it was LSD and weed, in the 80s it was cocaine and alcohol, it just kept going on and on. Bottom line is 2005 did not kill my father, 30 years of chronic substance abuse did.
I love my father and always will but time did not kill him, his choices did. And that is what is happening here. My generation of men will be the first ever to have a lower life expectancy than the previous generations. Researchers attribute this to an increase in substance abuse, suicide, and dying by gun with prescription drugs and alcohol being the two main factors. There is growing evidence women are starting to follow this trend as well. Its time for us to take our lives back and stop the dying.
Prince, Lemmy, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Gary Shandling, were among the many celebrity deaths that are in some way being attributed to a history of drug or alcohol abuse and use. And here is the main issue, we make access to these substances so damn easy. My father had a number of doctors he hit up for prescription drugs and usually got a script. There are liquor stores on just about every corner and cigarette sales are still too high. We are literally eating, drinking, drugging, and smoking ourselves to death.
So lets not blame 2016 and instead blame our culture of consumption. A culture that currently has shows like Intervention on A&E, My 600-LB Life on TLC, and The Biggest Loser on NBC being a legitimate entertainment choice. I know, I like and watch all of these shows so guilty as charged. But we have to do as a society what each individual has to do and that is admit we have a problem. And that begins with me. I hope that in 2017 that we stop the co-dependency and looking the other way and confronting our demons. Honestly, 2016 was not a problem, it was a symptom of who we had become. We got the 2016 we deserved and now have a life with the leaders we deserve and absent the voices we will miss. So lets hope that we will get the 2017 we need.