What Would You Put in a Time Capsule to Explain How Terrible 2017 Was?

A time capsule is lowered into the ground after a ceremony by Coretta Scott King in 1988 (Library of Congress)
A time capsule is lowered into the ground after a ceremony by Coretta Scott King in 1988 (Library of Congress)

The year is almost over and Americans are reflecting on the highs and lows of 2017. Here at Paleofuture we’re obsessed with time capsules, so it got us thinking about what a 2017 time capsule might include. Which objects would you bury to show people of the future what it was like to live through 2017?


The year 2017 was a phenomenally bad year for America by almost every measure. If you’re in the 43 percent of Americans who own stocks, you can take some solace in the soaring stock market for the time being. But aside from making the rich richer, 2017 has been an incredibly depressing year.

What objects would you place in a time capsule to show the people of, say, 2117 what the year 2017 was like? It can admittedly be pretty difficult to find the perfect object to represent the worst of 2017. More often than not, the mental and psychological damage of things like having to constantly call your congressperson to not get your healthcare taken away can’t be easily measured or represented in something that can be stuffed inside a capsule.

What would you include to show that 9 million kids are about to lose their health insurance? And what kind of object would be appropriate to memorialize the fact that 58 people were slaughtered and 546 more were injured when a gunman turned Las Vegas into a war zone? How do you communicate the evil of a man like Harvey Weinstein, let alone the inept neo-fascist tendencies of a man like Donald Trump?

What do you say? If you could only contribute a single item to a time capsule about 2017, what would you want inside?

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog


Actually, I’m surprised that I have a ready answer for this.

Last year, in about August, I bought a T-shirt with this on it:

... and the intent was to memorialize the era. If the Orange One were to win, it would be an expression of what got him there. If he were to lose, it would be an expression of what got him to the race. Admittedly, it’s a controversial image, but it can be seen in two ways — one as a caricature and another as a celebration.

I should note that it’s not the kind of t-shirt you can wear everywhere. Some people like to infer things about you without thinking about the image and addressing it as an image.

So, I would pick my t-shirt of The Orange One.