Einstein famously established the relativity of time. But even his elegant theory and the refinements that have followed perhaps fail to capture time’s true elasticity. There is no truer test of what we are tentatively calling the Unified Theory of Relativity than 2021, a year where moments stretched and collapsed upon each other and made it impossible to gauge if minutes or months have passed.
Consider that this year contained both the rise of the MyPillow guy and Joe Manchin, hitherto relative randos in the political ecosystem. Or that JPEGs and GIFs suddenly received hushed reverence usually reserved for the Mona Lisa. Or the boat. Remember the boat.
As we chatted with our fellow editors here about 2021, there were no shortage of double checks to make sure that our memories were not, in fact, failing. That this year was, in fact, extremely fucked up and contained more twists and turns than seemed possible to cram into 525,600 minutes. (Well, technically we still have a couple more days to reach that mark, but as we’ve already established at this point, time is plastic than previous theories let on.)
We’ll leave it to scientists to reevaluate their understanding of time as they crunch the numbers from 2021. While they go through their peer-review machinations, though, here’s the raw data.