Friday, 24 December 2021

2021 in Review: Looking Back

Much like the rest of 2021, this week has seemingly flown by in a flash, meaning that today is the last day of my week-long 2021 in Review series of posts. This began on Monday with my review of my Top 10 video games for the year. On Tuesday, I had a rundown of my Top 10 TV shows. On Wednesday, I highlighted my favorite songs for the year. And yesterday, I went over my Top 10 movies. Today, we'll be taking a look back at the things and events that helped define the year as a whole.

2021 marked the start of the second year since the COVID-19 outbreak. And while vaccines had slowly began to become widely available at the start of the year, this did not come quick enough to prevent most countries from being hit with second, third, fourth and even fifth waves of the deadly virus. Add to that the introduction of more contagious variants like Delta and Omicron and it would seem there is presently no end in sight. 

In spite of all this, things have continued to open up as we were all eager to return to a semblance of normalcy. Most countries have been able to avoid going back into full lockdowns, even though international travel restrictions are still a thing. Movie theaters have also started to see the kind of business they once saw before the pandemic, with some records even getting broken. If there is one thing all these facts illustrate, it is our collective ability to persevere.

One of the things that has helped us persevere this past year is our access to social media, of which Facebook remains the biggest platform. So one can understand the panic some of us felt when on October 4th, the entire platform had seemingly vanished off the face of the internet, taking with it our access to other Facebook owned apps like WhatsApp and Instagram. Thankfully, the outage had only lasted a few hours, but it was still long enough to show the dangers of being dependent on such services in the first place.

It wasn't all doom and gloom over at Facebook this year though, as its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had made some pretty exciting announcements during its Connect 2021 virtual presentation. It was revealed the company would be changing its name to Meta as a part of their push for helping realize the metaverse, a 3D representation of the internet that would leverage emerging technologies like VR and AR. For those wondering what exactly this proposed metaverse would look like, just think of it as something close to the OASIS in Ready Player One.

 

Despite numerous health and safety concerns and calls for its cancellation, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were finally (read: stubbornly) held between July 23 and August 8th this year in Japan. According to statements released by the Japanese government, the Games were to serve as a beacon of hope during the ongoing pandemic. So events were held without spectators in a bid to curb any further surges of COVID-19 cases in the country. But that could only go so far as record numbers of daily new cases were recorded both during and after the event, peaking at 156,931 on August 23rd.

A total of 205 countries had taken part in the Games, across 339 events. And by the time it was all said and done, the US had won the most medals, taking home a total of 113. This was followed by China and Japan with 88 and 58 medals respectively. Nigeria only managed to bring home two medals, one silver and one bronze, which I guess was still an improvement over the one bronze medal we won in 2016. But the fact that the Olympics had managed to take place at all this year is an accomplishment in and of itself.

In the gaming world, the continued scarcity of the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles meant that scalpers pretty much reigned supreme with jacked up prices on places like eBay. And in the midst of all that, Nintendo released its long-rumored Switch revision. Dubbed the Nintendo Switch OLED, the device sports a slightly bigger 7" OLED display as well as a revised kickstand and dock. It remains to be seen if we're still going to get a full-fledged upgrade for the hybrid console anytime soon, but going by how the Switch continues to outsell both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, it doesn't look like Nintendo is exactly hurting to put one out.

The Japanese company wasn't the only one to announced new hardware in 2021 though. Valve also unveiled the Steam Deck, a portable PC that looks like a souped up Nintendo Switch in its own right. Unlike the Switch though, the new machine promises to be powerful enough to run current-generation games at decent frame rates. The device was supposed to launch this December, but had to be pushed back two additional months to February 2022 due to overall demand and chip shortages. I personally do not plan on getting one, as I spend most of my time at home anyways and thus do not need to carry my Steam library of games around with me on a portable device.
 

Over on the homefront, 2021 has been a good year overall. I finally found something resembling a decent work-life balance, having fully embraced life as a freelancer. I'd written more words than any other year of my life as a result, which also counts for something. The YouTube channel is still going strong, and a couple of important milestones were crossed over the course of the past 12 months. I am currently on the verge of crossing another one right now as a matter of fact, so if you happen to be reading this and are still yet to subscribe, now's the time to do so.

But more than anything, thanks for taking the time to read my random thoughts and ramblings. And may our 2022 be even better than our 2021.

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