Being as I’m such an astute observer of societal trends, it suddenly dawned on me that we are approaching the end of not just another year, but of an entire decade. Yes, ten years of change and wonder, of social upheaval and trivial drivel. Was it really ten years ago that everyone raced about like Chicken Little screaming, “Y2K is coming! Gimmie a quarter pounder with cheese before your computerized register implodes and the earth descends into chaos as every stop light, jet liner, and digitally-enhanced pogo stick turns on us like poorly animated robots from a 1950’s era B-horror movie?”
Was it just ten years ago that I had a slimmer waist and a fuller head of hair?
Was it just ten years ago that cordless phones were the size of cinder blocks?
Yes, it seems like just nine years, eleven months ago to me as well.
Being as we are completing the first decade of a brand-spankin’-new century, I set about pondering just what social markers defined these ten years. Could one be that we elected and then dutifully reelected a president only to then collectively determine that he was the biggest dunderhead ever to sit within the oval walls? Could it be that Ellen got her own talk show, or that the Chinese could throw a really spiffy Olympics? How about the return of bell bottom pants or the rise of excessive tattoos and piercings?
Of course, we could look at major world issues such as terror attacks, earthquakes, or health care. But, I’m thinking more in terms of trends and societal shifts here.
Electronic media is, of course, a biggie. I-phones, I-pods, illegal downloads have all changed our daily lives. The internet itself was but a fledgling pup ten years past. In fact, if I had said to you, a decade ago, that I’m a blogger, you might well have warned me never to go near your daughter. Through social centers like Facebook and Myspace it’s possible to “connect” with hundreds of people on a daily basis – many of whom who have been hiding from me for years. (I wonder if those restraining orders are still valid.) We can have extensive lists of “friends” that we’ve never even met. And yes, some of these can develop into true relationships… or into rather frightful stalker/stalkee situations, but, hey, progress, right?
We can also “tweet” one another, or TEXT! There’s a biggie. No longer do we require direct human interaction. I’ve actually seen people in the same room text one another. I’m waiting for the first “text” wedding. Think of the savings. No dress, no reception, just, “Will you be my BFF until I get sick of you?” A few simple taps to reply, “I do.” And it’s a done deal. No fuss. No expense. Back to World of Warcraft.
Speaking of WOW:
Another –and possibly related – trend is the rise of nerdism. Yes, it has somehow become cool to be a nerd. Need proof? Think about it. Comic book and graphic novel adaptations have dominated the box office. Throw in the epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and you know geeks and nerds everywhere are stoked. (Yes, that would be me.) “World of Warcraft” is a video game sensation. Comic-Con draws thousands of people every year, some of whom even read comic books. “The Big Bang Theory” is a proper sitcom hit. “Dr. Who” has enormous ratings in the United Kingdom and a not-too-shabby following in the USA. The hit show, “Heroes,” is comic book inspired. “Battlestar Galactica” is hailed as one of the best television shows ever. J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movie is a monster smash. And all the while, sports heroes keep falling into scandal and embarrassment.
Now the connection to technology:
Today’s overly-gadgety phones and computer applications allow us to be social without actually being… well, social. One of the overriding traits of nerdism has always been a certain social awkwardness. That gap has now been breached. The guy who sits in a corner all day – perhaps writing a blog – is just as socially astute as the star quarterback or the hot young actor. I.e., there is hope for me.
I’m looking forward to the next decade where Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne might just possibly run against one another for president, where cell phones are inserted as implants at the temple, and where verbal communication becomes a lost art form akin to hieroglyphics. Now, where’s my new gadget phone-camera-video-internet-tricorder thingy? Does anyone know how to work this thing? What’s this button do? Ow! I didn’t know it could do THAT! Does this thing make lattes?
Copyright 2009 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.
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