Farewell 2022 (Welcome 2023!)

As we start the New Year, it’s hard not to feel like we are living in some kind of Groundhog’s Day hamster wheel, starting this year with so many elements of the last one. War in Europe, virus warnings, threats to democracy and the challenges of new technologies. We have experienced some major setbacks in the past year, but there has been progress, too.

Here is a rundown of the past year, thanks again to BoredPanda, Instagram and (for now) Twitter. For all its negative attributes, social media can help us connect, and humor can help us cope. Even dark humor can offer stress relief that lets us better relate to each other and to what we are going through. I’ll be back with a tax and financial planning update next time.

JANUARY: 2022 begins with an uptick in coronavirus worries with Omicron having crashed the holidays, and Russia masses troops at the Ukrainian border.

THE LESSON: Canada’s delegation to NATO attempts a geography lesson.

FEBRUARY:  Russia invades Ukraine and war in Europe is a headline again.

THE LESSON: Modernity is not a protection against imperialism and autocracy. But unity, resolve and leadership is a match even against a Superpower.  We ARE better together. Also, don’t mess with librarians.

MARCH: While war over sovereignty and democracy wages in Europe, we in the U.S. turn to … the awards season. The dark and light of the year manifests in a slap and a clap.  Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at The Oscars, and CODA wins Best Picture.

THE LESSON: Celebrity has power. The wrinkle is that this power comes from us, to use for good or not-so-good. Smith wins Best Actor and goes on to deliver his acceptance speech after assaulting Rock; the Academy eventually bans Smith from attending the Oscars for 10 years.

THE OTHER LESSON: Representation matters: deaf actors portray deaf characters, including the title CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) character, and we learn how to affect applause for deaf actors.

APRIL: Elon Musk announces he is buying Twitter.

THE LESSON: Musk may not be the genius he thinks he is.

MAY: Inflation is surging and consumers are re-thinking their budgets. An article in Bloomberg suggests ways to take the “sting” out of current prices, including eating lentils instead of meat and putting off health care for pets. The advice is geared to those making less than $300,000 per year.

THE LESSON: Marie Antoinette got it wrong, too.

JUNE: Roe v Wade is overturned.

THE LESSON: Health care is complex and personal. Restricting it has an economic and well as a human impact.

JULY: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first Black woman and first former public defender to serve.

THE LESSON: It is a fight all the way to the top. And for some, it never ends.

AUGUST: Queen Elizabeth II dies at age 96.

THE LESSON: Despite being The Queen, like most women she faced sexism in work and life. Also, she is a reminder of the long lives most women in the Western world will have. Pace yourselves.

SEPTEMBER: Kurdish twenty-something Mahsa Amini dies under suspicious circumstances at the hands of Iran’s Guidance Patrol.  A bit of hair protruding from a headscarf gives rise to the largest protests in Iran since the revolution in 1989. Women worldwide show support by cutting their hair in protest, and some men take to wearing hijab in solidarity.

THE LESSON: The fight for women’s rights doesn’t just benefit women; in a display of allyship, men, and particularly young men, step up to protest with the women for regime change for all.

OCTOBER: Elon Musk finalizes his on-again-off-again Twitter deal and institutes “extremely hardcore” work standards.

THE LESSON: Corporate culture matters, to employees and to customers: Hundreds of Twitter employees resign and the social media site is expected to lose more than 30 million users over the next two years over technical and other issues.

NOVEMBER: Taylor Swift breaks Ticketmaster.

THE LESSON: Get in the way of Swifties and you might spur a new wave of regulation.

ALSO IN NOVEMBER: The crypto meltdown ends in the collapse of FTX, a digital currency exchange, and the stunning admissions of its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, of failure of oversight, a multi-year fraud scheme and apparently no idea that the billions of his customers’ deposits were not for his personal use. All this despite numerous celebrities – Tom Brady, Larry David, even Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary — having endorsed the platform.

LESSON #2: Consider the source when getting your investment tips.

DECEMBER: Southwest Airlines has a meltdown amid a historic holiday snowstorm; a fusion breakthrough.

THE LESSON: How we implement technology matters, for better (fusion) or worse (Southwest’s antiquated scheduling system).

Whatever you might think about the events of last year, some things are true: The greater freedom more people have to participate in the world gives us greater economic growth; interfere enough with that freedom and you will unleash protest; and finally, financial markets hate unrest.

As we launch into 2023, three years into the pandemic, it’s no joke it has been a slog. We need all the help we can get to keep going.  When you can, do your best to be happy being out in the world, with your family, your friends, your colleagues — and your pets.  Enjoy the time together. We all need each other.

Wishing you good health, good cheer and an UNSTOPPABLE 2023. Happy New Year.