Tuesday, December 22, 2009

limping to the finish line

is it just me, or does it feel to you too that the general mood as we round out 2010 and the '00's in general is one of "thank goodness that was over"?

yes, yes we did have the dot com bust, the biggest recession since the great depression, Sept 11th, the engaging of America in at least 2 low level wars in the Arab states, the assasination of Benazir Bhutto, the death of Michael Jackson, the Tsunami and of course, the loss of American prestige / the harbinger of the changing of the world order brought to us in the form of George Bush.

however, i find it hard to assign the last 10 years that simply that bad. we also had the audacity of hope in President Obama, the shrinking of our mapped boundaries in an increasingly interconnected world - space/time/market building collapsing through web 3.0/4.0 technologies, business productivity, lots of new fantastic entertainers and movies that capture the imagination and change our conversations - like harry potter, or the strokes. it wasn't so bad, was it?

1 comment:

Capt. BS said...

I'm generally of the same mindset. Was it a particularly bad decade? Well, given that it immediately followed the irrational exuberance of the 90s (and the accompanying sense of to-the-moon invincibility), there wasn't really anywhere to go but down. Just considering the America-centric perspective, if I think back to the first half of this decade, and where I thought we would be in 2010, all I was hoping for was to avoid the onset of a veritable Idiocracy, a.k.a. the New Dark Ages. After the dot-com recession, 9/11, shock-and-awe, a trillion-dollar tax cut for 1% of the population, and swift-boating inexplicably led to the re-election of one of the most divisive and unqualified presidents to ever hold the office, I'd pretty much resigned myself to a decade or two of degenerative mediocrity here at home, and hoped that China, India, and the other rapidly-developing nations (who probably wouldn't call their annual 8-13% GDP growth a "lost decade") would establish themselves as noble stewards of the new global economy.

It was a bit of a doom-and-gloom mindset, I'll admit, but it helps illustrate my viewpoint that, in spite of all this crap (and the tsunami, and the financial crisis, and a variety of other calamities that defied prediction or prevention) the clumsy march of human progress carried on. Every decade has its calamities (even if they aren't as spectacular or horrifying as 9/11), every decade has economic crises and recessions (remember right *before* the dot-com era?), and every decade is filled with examples of our unusual ability to continuously invent new ways to achieve our own destruction (by means of thermonuclear bombs or credit default swaps). And yet, every decade marks its own set of scientific, intellectual, and cultural milestones. This decade in particular will probably be remembered as the first decade of the Global Information Age, when the Internet, mobile phones, and people-centric applications took on the task of connecting and empowering people, boosting living standards, and forging a stronger, more dependent relationship between the first world and the third world... rather driving up the phantasmagorical value of toilet-paper stocks.

Ultimately, I think our perception of how awful "the aughts" were has been amplified a fair amount by the mainstream American media, given that (a) many of this decade's low points have been of the spectacular nature, and therefore that have been extensively and exhaustively covered in the name of selling newspapers, magazines, and online ads; and (b) many of said spectacular events have affected (if not directly struck) our national zeitgeist, which demands additional coverage and punditry. Was it America's finest decade? Was it a golden age for the human species as a whole? On either count, probably not. But ask yourself this: in 2100, when sections of our coastal cities are underwater, when we've exhausted our supply of cheap fossil fuels (and fought the wars to confirm this fact), and when drinkable water is no longer a readily-available resource... will we still agree with Time magazine's assessment of the 2000s as "The Decade from Hell"?