Worst Fucking Summer Ever

Summer is usually a much anticipated season of sun-brightened days and bright blue and green Instagram streams and no school and barefoot running across blacktop to get to the pool and a news cycle so slow that teen sex parties and heartwarming tails of two-legged dogs who overcame the odds dominate the news cycle. Operative word here: usually.

This summer, with a few exceptional bright spots like Team USA Soccer's Tim Howard, baby Groot, and, surprisingly, the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, has been something between a steaming pile of crap, a wet blanket that smells like fish, and a tiny, growling pointy toothed thing that you can hear scratching at your bedroom door in the dark.

Traditional "summer" — the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day — has sucked an entire stew pot of moldy balls this year. Shortly after Memorial Day, California Chrome — or, as everybody knows him now, "whatshishorse" — lost the Belmont Stakes and thus the Triple Crown, dashing the hopes of a more innocent time when a horse not winning a race was a thing that bummed people out a tiny bit. If only we knew then. If only we knew.

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There wasn't a "song of summer" that defined these months, like "Call Me Maybe" did in 2012 and "Hot In Herre" does every summer. But this summer doesn't fucking deserve its own song. It hasn't earned it.

It would be one thing if BEYONCE AND JAY Z DIVORCE RUMORS were actually the worst thing about the summer of 2014, but it's hard to care about a tabloid headline when the world feels like it's on fire.

We couldn't have known heading jauntily into our three day Memorial Day weekend that this summer was going to be one where we lost Lauren Bacall, Maya Angelou, and Elaine Stritch to time and Robin Williams to horrifying, unexplained suicide. Following his sudden death, Williams's daughter was bullied and harassed with fake pictures of her father's dead body. She eventually quit Twitter, and who can blame her?

People are great.

On the last day of their term the 5 Catholic dudes of the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to women's personhood in the US in their ruling on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a ruling that established that a boss's religious-based misconceptions could dictate which health care his employees could access if and only if those misconceptions related to contraception and birth control. Or, you know, sluts. In a dissent I'm legally required to call "blistering," living saint Ruth Bader Ginsburg chastised her male colleagues, citing her male colleagues' ignorance of what birth control is and what it does for women who need it and warned them that they could be unleashing "havoc" on society. Learning I was less than a corporation, person-wise, was a shock to me as a woman, since every human person who currently exists on the planet earth was born of a woman. Maybe corporations are classified as super-people because they're something men can give birth to.

Mere weeks before, the miserable shit who shot up the University of California-Santa Barbara campus released a rambling, boring video and manifesto on how he was shootin' mad that nobody would fuck him. It was women's fault for getting themselves shot at and hated, he said. He's far from alone in this mindset.

But compared to what people in other parts of the world dealt with this summer, what American women dealt with seems minor. In Nigeria, terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in multiple incidents. Some escaped, and many were sold as child brides and suffered unspeakable abuse. Not even the most ardent of hashtag campaigns could compel them to be returned. Elsewhere in terrorism or tragic levels of dumbfuckery, Ukrainian separatists acting with either Russian blessing or Russian weapons (or maybe both) accidentally or maybe on purpose shot a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet out of the sky, killing all aboard including several attendees of a global AIDS conference. Separatists mangled the wreckage before authorities could arrive or the bodies could be retrieved, gouging out portions of the plane and at one point loading up the dead bodies of the people they killed onto a refrigerated train car before they were finally released to grieving families. Real evil weasel Putinesque bullshit. And in Israel, a horrifying IDF offensive killed more than 2,000 West Bank Palestinians (including 4 little boys from the same family who were playing on a beach) and injured more than 10,000 more. Meanwhile, Israeli women expressed their support for the bloodshed by posting pictures of their asses to Facebook. In Iraq, Islamic State fighters wreaked unspeakable havoc on Iraqis, committing mass atrocities and war crimes that include killing hundreds of Iraqis and burying them on a mass grave (and posting it to Facebook) and beheading American journalist James Foley and uploading it to YouTube. Also: Syria. That's still happening.

In Kenya, an Oklahoma teen missionary spent his time ministering to orphans by raping them. In the US, the state of Oklahoma botched more than one execution in truly horrifying fashion. And further south in the lower 48, unaccompanied Central American children sent to the US in an act of desperation were greeted warmly by frothing xenophobes who wanted them out because apparently the only babies welcome in America are the ones brought into the world via the uteruses of women who do not want children.

In Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, thousands have fallen ill or died as a result of the deadliest outbreak of ebola in history, thanks to a strain of the virus that it seems can be cured by a medicine that we're only giving to white people. The World Health Organization warns that 20,000 people could die of the outbreak within the next 9 months.

And speaking of white people, it seems their (our) propensity to shoot unarmed black people while dressed as cops but imagining that they're soldiers finally caught them (us) a little flack, as the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri ignited mass protests and ensuing widely documented civil rights abuses against black Ferguson residents and media who went there to cover the unrest. A militarized police force facing down kids with bottles. And following the release of the name of the man who shot Michael Brown 6 times in the face, head, and arm (from the front), Area Whites were galvanized in support of Darren Wilson, raising more money for his relocation and new life-starting than had been raised by supporters of Michael Brown's grieving family.

At least we had that cute kid who kept saying "apparently," right? At least we had some funny ice bucket challenges? At least we had Chris Pratt providing some levity? Brangelina's wedding? Kimye? Ah, fuck it. Not even the most charming of celebrity or froth distractions can keep a person who is paying even a little attention from noticing how messed up everything is.

Calling the summer of 2014 the "WORST EVER" is hyperbolic if we're trying to quantify "good" and "bad" and compare one year to another using some heretofore unused measurement of NET EVIL, but it stands if we're talking about how much bad news there was, how many people knew about it, and how many people reflected on the badness of the news. If a tree falls in the woods and a billion people hear it, a lot more people care. The world has never existed in a non-fucked up state in all of human history, and a person would have to be either very young or very naive to think there was ever an era where everything was okay. But there were eras where most things, to some people, probably seemed okay. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are great ways to spread joy and pictures of your cool fourth of July nail art, but they're also incredibly efficient in letting people know what is bad where you are. The more people have access to information, the more people know what's going on, both good and bad.

And that could ultimately be a good thing, as it's kind of hard to work to change something that nobody acknowledges needs changing. But it's also overwhelming. There's only so much a person can do from across the ocean, from across the country. Ignorance isn't best, but it sure is bliss.