Well, that was quick.
Here we are, already in the last couple days of the first decade of the new millennium.
It seems like it was only yesterday that we were all getting paranoid about the mythical “Y2K bug” and here we are on the precipice of the year 2010.
Ten years ago today, I was complaining about AOL sending me free CD-ROMs for their service and now AOL is all but irrelevant, while Facebook holds sway as the current social networking paradigm.
Unfortunately, the media has neglected to identify this decade with a quick label by which it can be referred to for future eras.
I’ve heard some suggestions, some better than others. There’s a group based out of England pushing for the “aughts” and some here in the States prefer the “zeroes” but, frankly, I’m not terribly impressed with either. It seems like the historians or, at least the mathematicians, should pull their weight on this one.
But therein lies the inherent difficulty in identifying a span as long as a decade in an era where things progress so quickly.
Our culture has become so easily disposable that it’s not so much that a hot commodity is “here today and gone tomorrow” but is “here today” and gone today as well.
Andy Warhol famously quipped that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, but I’d be willing to venture that number is probably overstating it a bit nowadays.
Perhaps that’s the real contribution of this decade… things becoming more easily digestible and thus more easily disposable.
War seems as good as anything to define these times. So perhaps we should call it the “Age of Terrorism” or something along those lines. With 9/11 occurring within the first year of the twenty-first century, followed hard upon by the campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq we find ourselves still engaged even now.
At the same time, the speed and pervasiveness of personal information technology has probably influenced our time as much, if not more.
I can remember having a cell phone in ’99 implied some personal or professional need. That is, most of the people I knew 10 years ago that had cell phones were either doctors or drug dealers. Now it seems like every middle-schooler has one, and the freakin’ things take pictures and play music now! Who saw that coming?!
With looking back and contemplating the things that have passed, I think you cannot help but then turn your focus the other direction and think about the years to come.
In ten years I will be in my early forties. Probably a good deal grayer and hopefully not just a little a bit wiser. In ten years, my two older children will be all but full grown and ready to start their adult lives, my two younger children will be in middle school. What will their world look like?
Other questions encroach upon me.
How will this country extricate itself from that “graveyard of empires” known as Afghanistan? What will follow the gradual withdrawal of American troops in the Middle East, if and when that occurs?
What will be the “next big thing” in our culture? How will the continuing growth of personal media and peripheral devices impact our civilization? Will newspapers survive this decade or will we too be forced to adapt and evolve into a new format? Will newspapers, as a concept, even be relevant in ten years?
So now, here we all stand, on the precipice of a new year and the dawning of a new decade.
Think of where you are right now, then imagine you could sit down to lunch with the “you” of ten years ago and think about what you would say to yourself.
I know what I would say: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”