Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.11.11
Stanstead, Quebec


2011: The year to fear

Well, thank goodness that's over with. Now that it's 2011, we can put the nastiness of 2010 behind us, right?

Sorry, no, we can't. If there's one thing we've learned from the year just past, it's that nothing is so bad that it can't get worse (unless you're a Chilean miner.)

An aura of paranoia permeated 2010, thanks to ongoing fears of economic collapse and the dread possibility that the middle class might not be able to purchase that third flat-screen TV for the second guest bedroom.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raised the prospect that our reliance on increasingly remote sources of oil might be putting the environment at risk and, worse, that a spike in the cost of diminishing gasoline supplies might force us to walk to the grocery store.

In the US, this sense of dread has been exploited by the conservative right, creating a sense of "us" in search of a "them." The Tea Party's rallying cry to "take back the country" has carried the taint of racism, coinciding with a realization among the white population that in the very near future, there will be more non-white citizens in the United States.

They are filled with an anxiety of being outnumbered paired with a low-grade anger directed at these "others," even though they continue to live with all the rights and privileges they could ever possibly want.

In Canada, we would call these people "Quebecers."

Just because we've turned the calendar, don't expect the tone to change. In fact, much like our collective waistlines over the holidays, the sense of anxiety and paranoia is only growing. I mean, birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, for goodness sake!

So here's the fear to look forward to in 2011 - if, that is, you can uncover your eyes:

Booze backlash

The puritanical march to destroy all things remotely enjoyable forges ahead. Smokers are already pariahs. The obese are scourges of society with no self-control who are draining our health care system and global supplies of stretchy fabric. Pre-marital sex breeds STDs and strippers. Next: alcohol.

The family-values faction is currently lobbying state and provincial governments to impose greater restrictions on alcohol consumption, arguing that alcohol abuse leads to domestic turmoil and people wearing silly hats. Taking a page from the anti-smoking faction, they are proposing laws that would ban alcohol in restaurants, forcing drinkers to consume their beverages thirty feet from the building, where, of course, they would be arrested for drinking in public. It's a win-win. The upper classes will, of course, find and exploit a martini loophole.

Prime suspect

The number 2011 is a prime number, divisible by one and itself, and, as Abraham Lincoln famously said, a year divided against itself cannot stand. Numerologists and paranoidologists expect prime years to be filled with more turmoil and, worse, more celebrity divorces. There's no need to look further for proof than the last prime year, 2003, whose disastrous events included the invasion of Iraq and the election of Paul Martin.

Facebook phooey!

Social networking use is expected to fall off as users become increasingly worried about who has access to personal information, such as their favourite TV show being "Sex and The City" and their relationship status being "complicated." Look for new networking formats to emerge that allow one-on-one interface with more reliable content management, also known as "conversation".

Insect uprising

Could happen.


President Obama removes his mask to reveal he's actually Osama Bin Laden, and then he removes that mask to reveal he's actually Angelina Jolie. And then she raises taxes. It could happen.

Global waning

Astronomers believe they are very close to discovering intelligent life on distant planets, raising fears that this will quickly be followed by the discovery that Earth isn't such a big whoop after all. Expect the Tea Party to organize a rally to "Take Back the Universe."

Finally, the biggest thing to fear in 2011 - another carry-over from 2010 that will inspire more dread than melting ice caps, nuclear tension, potential zombie attacks, and Palin-Beck on the 2012 ticket: Adam Sandler in Grownups 2: Growner Upper.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at