The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same, or Are We Getting Better with Age? Here’s to the Last 10 Years of the New Millennium—Happy Eleventh Birthday, 21st Century!By Kaylene Peoples | January 18th, 2011 | Category: Articles | 1 Comment »
Remember when everybody was freaking out over Y2K? If you’re just a teenager, I hardly expect you to remember that. But the big concern was the computer systems stopping progress, losing valuable, irreplaceable records, maybe even setting off nuclear bombs. The TV show The Simpsons even did a spoof on Y2K, satirically reflecting our nation’s tone about the turn of the new century. Well, we managed to survive, and our computer systems didn’t fail us. But as I reflect on the first ten years of the new millennium, it has been a rather bittersweet journey and a slow crawl to its eleventh birthday.
Having a magazine, I am very much aware of how editors capitalize on the “best of” or “famous deaths” or “biggest tragedies,” “crimes,” “wars,” and “natural disasters” of the closing year. And I suppose my focusing on just last year alone would seem indulgent. After all, you can find any fact you want about any of the abovementioned topics in relation to 2010 online. As I thought about this article, I thought back to when I launched Agenda Magazine back in 2004. As I recall, I watched a lot of television and watched world events one after the other. I do remember that it wasn’t abnormal not to have cable at the time. In fact, half the people I knew were using DSL and watching regular TV. HBO, Cinemax, and AMC were considered luxuries, not the norm. And let’s be honest, reality TV was not on just about every major network at the time as it is now. In order to really be in the “know” you’d better be tuning in to Weeds, Mad Men, True Blood, and shows like 6-Feet Under, The Wire, and The Sopranos, which lasted several seasons, creating B-list stars and advancing acting careers. On syndicated television, Oprah, the CSIs, Castle, The Office, Two and a Half Men, and 90210 have become a part of our daily and weekly viewing schedule. Let’s not ignore daytime and primetime soap operas like Days of Our Lives and Desperate Housewives. Now Oprah has her own network!
Television is not the same. So, what has changed? EVERYTHING! The Internet has offered a greater selection of shows, allowing those without cable, DVR, or even a television set to enjoy most popular TV shows in a timely manner. Some are viewable only a few hours after the show has aired, and others are made available as quickly as 24 hours later. So you’re not missing much without a television or even cable TV. But what’s even better are companies like Netflix. You can watch so many movies and shows on demand. All you need is a computer, a high-speed modem and you’re good to go. I remember when I used to tape my soaps because that was the only way I was going to see a missed episode. Now VCRs are extinct.
My, how times have changed! And they really have. In the last ten years we’ve witnessed more natural disasters of biblical proportions vividly on our TVs. Remember Sri Lanka’s tsunami back in 2004? And what about Hurricane Katrina back in 2005? The atrocities were unwatchable. Did 911’s terrorist attack back in 2001 set the tone for the first decade of our new century? Who would have thought Saddam Hussein would fall from power and be executed? Who thought another member of the Kennedy dynasty, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who died of brain cancer in 2009, would pass away? And just last year Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake, leaving millions homeless and destitute.
What’s interesting to think about, however, is the number of rising cases of children diagnosed with autism and women with breast cancer and other forms of cancer. Survival has increased, but what are the triggers that are actually causing this increase? Sadly, we said goodbye to Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, Dana Reeves, Paul Newman, and other celebrities who also lost their battles with cancer. And let’s not leave out the staggering list of other celebrities who are now immortalized like Michael Jackson (2009), Katherine Hepburn (2003), Lena Horne (2010), Eartha Kitt (2008), Heath Ledger (2008), Don Hewitt (2009), Gregory Peck (2003), Tony Curtis (2010), Isaac Hayes (2008), etc. This article will turn into a book if I don’t stop here. Have I covered everything? Not quite.
Wow, there were some amazing things that did happen over the last ten years, though. We elected a black man as our President—this is something I never thought I’d see in this country. In spite of the problems we face in America, we’re finally beginning to overcome one of our biggest hurdles—racism. Racism will never be gone completely, but President Barrack Obama winning the election gave so many people hope. We had two women, Condoleeza Rice (a black woman) under the George W. Bush administration, and Hillary Clinton under the Barrack Obama administration, serving as Secretary of State, another great couple of firsts for America. And let’s not forget about Kathryn Bigelow, winning Best Director at the Oscars last year. (Read my rant about the Academy Awards and the good ol’ boy’s club).
I guess when I look back over the last 10 years, I do see progress. People are living longer, and we might even be becoming more tolerant of other people’s differences. On a lighter note, I can’t say much for the television programming, but one thing is for sure. I can catch the news on several websites, and I can be updated on current events as they happen. I can find out information instantly online. When someone is diagnosed with most cancers, early detection almost always means survival. The world is ever changing and ever maturing. Yes, our ozone layer is compromised, but there are more eco-friendly manufacturers; and slowly but surely “going green” is becoming hip. There might just be hope for us yet. Who says, “The more things change the more they stay the same?” Not to slight French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-90), I may not be around to see the next century, but I’m looking forward to the next 10 years. Aren’t you? Can’t wait to see what develops!