How did we get here? - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Everyone comes from somewhere. We all have our very own origin story that dates back to our parents and our childhood. Most of them are likely pretty boring - at least to the majority of the world - but the people who get mixed up in events that change the world can have interesting ones.
For anyone who’s seen the 2010 film about Facebook, The Social Network, you know that it posits, essentially, that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook because he got dumped one night. So, on Jan. 6, 2020, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol after consuming years of misinformation on Facebook (and using the social network to communicate and mobilize), a number of critics took a mountain of liberties with how something like that could happen, saying that American democracy was being challenged all because a kid got dumped back in 2003 when he was a student at Harvard University.
As I said, a bit of a jump to conclusions there, but not an idea without merit.
With Facebook being the amorphous blob it is, it would be easy to trace several things back to that monumental alleged dumping: vaccine misinformation, a seismic shift in the world of traditional media, how we communicate with each other, online bullying... the list goes on.
Staying on Trump, a lot of people point to jokes told by Barack Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner as the exact moment Trump decided to run for president.
You can see it in his face that Trump is not impressed with what’s being said (or how the room is reacting). Is it possible that a few of Obama’s knee-slappers gave us Trump?
Since we may be on the precipice of World War III, one of these such incidents can be traced back to World War II. Adolf Hitler (who I hesitate to bring up, as apparently I can’t mention him these days without garnering a few “well, actually...” letters), was twice rejected from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Many have half-jokingly said that, had Hitler gotten into art school, maybe he would have chosen painting over genocide.
I have my own World War III theory along these lines when it comes to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his love of hockey. There’s a famous video showing Putin trying in vain to put a hockey helmet on his head backwards.
Fast-forward a few years, and Putin has apparently gotten a bit better. He’s a hockey lover who will lace up his skates from time to time (and put on his helmet the right way). But, maybe he spends too much time dictating and not enough on drills, because he still looks a little shaky, despite not facing much in the way of real defence. (As you can imagine, no one is really putting the body to Putin.)
In 2019, Putin’s team claimed victory in the annual Night Hockey League gala match by the football-like score of 13-9. His team flew to victory on the wings of Putin’s two-and-two-third hat tricks. (Eight goals - that’s right, he put up a snowman.) The performance has been ridiculed on the world stage, up to and including a slip-and-fall by Putin as he skated around after the game waving to fans.
Nobody wants to be bad at something, especially in front of thousands of people, so maybe, just maybe, Putin’s insecurity about his on-ice performance is what got us here. He loves hockey so much and all he ever wanted was to be good at it, so, maybe if he can’t be good at hockey, he doesn’t want anyone else to be good at it (or to be alive, frankly, for that matter) either.
Learning how we got here is always fun. Maybe not always true, but always fun.