So, how’d you like it -- the first decade of the Y2K Millennium? Here it is at the beginning of February of the second decade, and there is no dearth of written pieces on this past decade. So, why not? I’ll give it a shot.
Above, Y2K Snowglobe
First, decades now mean a lot to me, since, having been born in 1943, I have a bunch of them behind me – some of the ‘40s, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and this last one, whatever you call it -- and not so many in front.
I loved the 50s and 60s, when I was ages 12 to 26, because that’s when you learn all this cool stuff – cheerleading, making out, smoking, drinking, driving. Oh, and Rock ‘n Roll. What’s to hate? (For a short history of Rock ‘n Roll, see the Aug. 11 post classified under “Funny Bones” in the right-hand column.)
Second, when I was about 10, I was lying on the grass at Eglin AFB, Florida, staring at the night skies. Suddenly I wondered, “what would it would be like to be living when the new Millennium begins.”
I added it up. I’d be about 56. “Eeee gads,” I thought. “That’s just too old. I’ll never make it.”
To celebrate having made it to 2000, we went to the beach. We woke up on Jan. 1, 2000, with the world’s technology intact, but the decade didn’t start out great for us. While we were having fun at the beach, our house was being robbed. Not good.’
One For the Books
Let’s take a look back. First, a polling question:
What is your overall impression, positive or negative, of the –
1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s?
In fact, the PEW Research Center has already asked a bunch of Americans this question and got answers. Assuming every decade has its own character and personality, let’s look back at a few events that shaped this past one.
2000: Y2K didn’t happen. AOL bought Time Warner. And Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open, becoming the youngest golfer to win all four major golf tournaments (yikes, the irony!).
2001: 9/11 happened, which may be the most defining moment in the decade. The U.S. begins a long economic downturn (yikes, more irony!), and Enron files for bankruptcy (even more irony!). Apple rolls out iTunes AND the iPod, probably changing a chunk of American life forever.
2002: Kmart and WorldCom file for bankruptcy. The first Blackberry goes on the market. American Idol airs on TV.
2003: The U.S. invades Iraq, having been convinced that the country held WMDs, a term that becomes a household word – unfortunately. Myspace.com airs on computers!
2004: The world spent a terrifying Dec. 26, watching the effects of an unimaginable Tsunami that hit most coastal regions in the Indian Ocean. Hundreds of millions of people died or disappeared forever. Facebook.com airs on computers.
2005: Hurricane Katrina. Enough said.
2006: The H5N “bird flu” strikes the world. Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion, that’s billion. By now, “billion” becomes a household word.
2008: The U.S. sees a record-breaking deficit of $454.8 billion, yes, billion. Oil sells for more than $100 a barrel in January and $140 in July, another omen. Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Beyond omen. Madonna turns 50, speaking of decades. Obama is elected to the Presidency.
2009, finally: We don’t have to rack our brains for this one. Bankruptcies, scams, cons, Ponzies, rouge banks, obscene executive bonuses, philandering leaders, depressing recession, and Tiger Woods. It all makes us look like silly suckers, doesn’t it?
It’s enough to make you meditate on the philosophical “appearance v. reality” theme. After all, there’s not much “real” to “reality shows.”
Pew Research discovered that the most common word the respondents used to describe the “Aughts” or “Oh-Ohs” or “Zeroes” or “2Ks” –whatever you want to call the decade, is “downhill.”
And it also discovered that there is no generational divide in how the decade is described. Everybody hates it. And nearly 60 percent of those polled think the next decade will be better, but 32 percent think it will be worse.
Over half of the respondents name 9/11 as the defining event of the decade; Obama’s election is a distant, distant second. Well over half, 65 percent, see the Internet’s development as a change for the better, with e-mail a close, close second.
Only 29 percent see Blogs as a change for the better, with 21 percent seeing them as a change for the worse.
Come on, guys. This is a BLOG. Gimme a break.
Back to the original question. Looks like a no-brainer.