9 things I wish I hadn’t learned in 2013

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“Year in review” time is upon us! You can’t go on the Internet without being inundated with the top “fill in the blank” stories of the year — from pop culture to politics to even the “Top 10 Twitter fights.”

But these lists also remind me of the things I wish I hadn’t learned about in 2013. I don’t mean the events I wish hadn’t happened but the lessons from this year’s events that I wish I could have avoided. And I would wager that many of you would agree with at least a few of my choices.

So here’s my list:

1. Pope Francis’ compassion for the poor is a bad thing to some: I thought being concerned about the poor and wanting to help those less fortunate was a good thing. But Sarah Palin criticized the Pontiff for being “kind of liberal” (which she views as a really bad thing) though she didn’t specify the offending words and later apologized. And Rush Limbaugh even labeled the Pope’s words about capitalism, income inequality and urging world leaders to combat poverty as being “pure Marxism.” I guess the lesson for the Pope is don’t actually preach what’s in the Bible or else some on the right will call you names.

2. One dance move on a basic cable TV show can popularize a new word in our collective vocabulary: I’m speaking, of course, of, “twerking.” That dance may have been around for years, but it wasn’t until Miley Cyrus twerked her way into the headlines at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards that we all became intimately familiar with it. “Thanks,” Miley.

3. You can lie to Congress under oath and still keep your job: In March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper answered “No sir”, when asked during a congressional hearing whether the NSA was gathering “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Of course, we found out a short time later about the NSA’s massive surveillance program when Edward Snowden released classified documents. Yet Clapper was not charged with perjury nor even removed from his position for his less than fully honest answer to Congress. (He did apologize for what he called “clearly erroneous” testimony.) In contrast, when ex-baseball pitcher Roger Clemens allegedly lied to Congress under oath in 2008 about using performance-enhancing drugs, he was charged with perjury and had to endure a criminal trial.

4. We are so hypersensitive that people will even fight over fictitious characters: Fox News’ Megyn Kelly created a firestorm by saying that Santa Claus is white. The amount of instant (faux) outrage may have hit an all-time high. And the more bizarre lesson I learned from this debate was that I agreed with Glenn Beck who said, in essence: “Don’t we have more important things to worry about than Santa’s skin color?!”

5. The leader of the free world can’t get a website to work: Obamacare became law three-and-a-half years ago, but shockingly the website for President Obama’s signature piece of legislation was a horrible failure when it rolled out in October. Sure, the website is now functioning pretty well after a two-month makeover, but if I were President and there was a program known as “Obeidallah-care” or “Dean-aid,” I can assure you that the website for that program would’ve been amazing from Day 1.

6. A crack smoking mayor can have a higher approval rating than the President of the U.S.: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who not only admitted to smoking crack, but made inane public statements and walked into everything from cameras to other elected officials, had a higher approval rating in November than President Obama. Could it be that Canadians are too forgiving or are we too tough on our elected officials — or both?

7. We are the most self-centered generation ever: I’m part of this self-absorbed generation so I’m not being judgmental, just honest. We have become so narcissistic that the word “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013. We even saw the rise of “funeral seflies” where people take self-portraits at funerals often posing with the dead body. And thanks to Kim Kardashian, we now have “Belfies” — where you take a self-portrait of your buttocks and share that with the world. I can’t even imagine the type of “selfies” we will see in 2014 but it may involve a tiny camera being inserted into body cavities.

8. 90% of Americans could support a proposed law and Congress still won’t pass it: Prior to 2013, I would have bet money that if 90% of us supported the passage of a law that could save American lives, Congress would enact it. Yet this year even though that percent of Americans supported universal background checks for all gun sales, it still couldn’t get through our dysfunctional Congress. Apparently we need 100% of Americans to support it before Congress will act.

9. Don’t go on vacation with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum: When I checked into my hotel for a vacation earlier this year, I was told that the sequel to Hill and Tatum’s hit film “21 Jump Street” was being filmed there. The result was a nightmare of closed hotel facilities and a mass of extras swarming the hotel. So if you check into your hotel for a quiet vacation and find out that a big studio movie will be shooting there, check out.

What unwelcome lessons did 2013 bring for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. And best wishes for a 2014 filled with health, happiness — and fewer lessons you wish you could have avoided.

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