25 in the 2000s: things that shaped the aughts

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Sunday, December 27th, 2009

25 in the 2000s: things that shaped the aughts

this is final post in an ongoing series called 25 in the 2000s. if you want a bit of information about the series, you can find the introduction here.

in another blogger’s recent appraisal of the past decade, it was described as “the decade that snuck up on us.” his main thesis was that the decade started off very well, with relative peace and tranquility. and then…9/11. from there, we’ve seen war, political scandal and various disease outbreaks. but the blogger concludes that, all in all, the decade has seen more light than dark. i share that point-of-view and look back rather fondly. both personally and in terms of news-worthy moments, i think it’s been a decade worth remembering. in remembering, i decided to compile a list of anything that in any way shaped the decade. so, these aren’t just news stories or technological advances or any specific “category” of list item. these are simply things that shaped the aughts.

25. globalization. it isn’t as if we didn’t have ways to connect globally prior to 2000. but what became ordinary and commonplace this decade is instantaneous and nonstop interconnectivity with global news, markets and people. from social media to 24-hour news outlets, our tiny worlds have become very large, global worlds.

24. tivo. the day the audio cassette died, the landscape of music changed forever with the advent of the cd. even moreso, though, with the death of the vcr, the tv landscape was dramatically changed with the coming of tivo and more broadly speaking, digital video recorders. what makes this so significant is that it no only changed the way consumers interacted with tv, but it’s still in the process of changing the way advertisers view the way they use (or don’t use) tv.

23. mtv=no music videos. this is another one that didn’t just begin in the 2000s, but we, more or less, saw the final nail in the coffin this decade. for nearly 20 years, mtv controlled the largest portion on music culture. now, they just control culture, period. don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying this is a good thing, but it simply illustrates the power of a station that doesn’t show music videos despite having the word music in their name.

22. religious extremism. religious extremism has been around just about as long as religion has been around. but, the difference now is that it’s regularly a culturally-saturated topic of conversation. sure, there was talk here and there in the past when some event warranted it, but now, it’s become a (sad) part of our cultural sensibility.

21. environmentalism. ladies and gentlemen, al gore. yes, al gore’s an inconvenient truth can likely be given credit for launching the pervasive cultural shift and awareness that changes are and have been occurring in the environment that need to be seriously addressed. but more than just the awareness, this brought a whole new political game to play, with democrats (by and large) pushing for change and republicans (by and large) insisting it’s a load of b.s.

20. neo-calvinism. oh, the new calvinists. my friends….. led by the likes of john piper, mark driscoll, matt chandler, al mohler and even ed stetzer (to an extent), this group has looked to restore “correct doctrine” while doing church in modern, relevant ways. some of the hallmarks of this group are militant doctrine, regular attacks on anyone connected to the emerging church (though they’ve co-opted the term in some situations) and extreme conservative political stances that are equated to biblical standards.

19. rise of indie culture. from music to clothes to movies to humor to facial hair, 20-somethings flocked what could broadly (and often inaccurately) described as “indie.” indie’s one of those words that can’t really be pinned down, but by and large, i think its roots are akin to the musical hodge podge that we’ve seen this decade: a little mix of styles from the last several decades all melded together to make this new frankenstein-ish thing that defies category.

18. file sharing proliferation. in the late 90s, a kid named shawn fanning made every college kid a fan of his when he created napster. sadly, after lars ulrich and a bunch of grumpy musicians griped their way through a successful lawsuit, pandora’s box was open and in the 2000s, file sharing went from a computer nerd’s past time to a full-fledged software developing niche. from bit torrent to limewire to kazaa to good old fashioned mixtaping, file sharing became the standard for music distribution in the 2000s.

17. the emerging church. there’s likely nothing on this list that has had any more of a personal impact for me than this one. in the late 90s, a group of young pastors came together and dreamed about a new kind of christian that re-embraced the life and teachings of jesus. this conversation would blaze a new trail throughout the following decade and would lead to an ever-growing network of christians, leaders, pastors, authors and dreamers with a common connecting point.

16. christian=republican. while some would argue that this has been occurring for decades, it’s clear that a major cultural shift occurred when george bush ran for office in 2000. rove, bush and his cronies successfully pulled the collective wool over the eyes of evangelical christians and convinced them that a vote for george bush was a vote for jesus. i don’t see any real turning back from that any time soon, unfortunately.

15. youtube. 20 years ago, if you wanted to be a star or have your 15 minutes of fame, it consisted of finding an agent and working your way onto a traditional media form such as tv, radio or movies. now, you simply need a webcam, an internet connection and a youtube account. only years into youtube’s existence, several musicians and actors have been discovered as a direct result of their diy youtube submission.

14. political polarity. don’t get me wrong, there’s always been battle lines drawn in politics, but with bush’s campaign in 2000, the lines became very clear. you were either hot or cold. black or white. right or wrong. those who found themselves in the middle were seen as irrelevant or wishy-washy. they couldn’t be trusted. if you weren’t on an extreme wing of the “hot topics” (abortion, gay marriage, etc), then you had little hope of election.

13. the rise of fox news and senseless talking heads. speaking of political polarity, is it any surprise that fox news’ greatest rise in popularity was during the 2000 presidential campaign? launched in 1996, fox news capitalized on the polarization of the bush campaign and launched itself into national prominence, where it has maintained over the last decade. with goofballs like bill o’reilly, sean hannity and glenn beck, fox news is consistently inconsistent with their supposed “fair and balanced” news coverage.

12. hip hop’s relevance. in the late 70s, a few people in the bronx were spitting rhymes at house parties and propagating an artform that few people understood or respected. just 30 years later, we have a president who has jay-z on his cell and is quoting his lyrics at campaign speeches. hip hop isn’t just music for kids in the ghetto. it’s about middle class kids from the ‘burbs and moms and people who appreciate truth in music and gifted musicians. for better or for worse, hip hop is the voice of the up and coming generations.

11. myspace. myspace, by and large, has become a joke due to its hideous interface and over-saturation of glitter words. BUT, if you rewind the clock, you’ll find that myspace was basically what ushered in everything we now understand as social media. myspace let users create their page in an easy way and opened up channels to reconnect with old high school friends and, unfortunately, every pedophile east of the mississippi, nevertheless, myspace serves as relic of the new wave of social media in the 2000s.

10. iphone. ah yes, the magic phone. bar none, there has been no other technological/cultural phenomenon in the 2000s that has become as ubiquitous as the iphone. what was once a somewhat risky experiment by a computer company became one of the most genius (not to mention, profitable) ventures by a company in the history of modern innovation. take a look at the cell phone market now. what do you see? nothing but iphone rip-offs and hopeful next-big-things. none of them, though, will surpass (any time soon) the market dominance of the iphone.

09. culture of fear. of all the things on this list, this is the darkest one to me. in the wake of 9/11, we are now faced with the reality that we live in a nation of fearful people and over-reactors. the worst prison is fear and we seem to be a country who is locked in that very prison. from needless regulations at the airport to wiretaps to offshore prisons, the united states has become characterized by misplaced fear.

08. the rise of apple. in the early 80s, a couple nerds started a little company that was inspired by their favorite band, the beatles. one less nerd and almost 30 years later, this little company has become the zenith of technological innovation in the world and is the constant leader in must-have computers and gadgets. while some short-sighted people have quoted operating system market share numbers to discredit apple, no one can dispute the impact of a little thing called the ipod or the iphone.

07. digital music takeover. remember those things called cd’s? well, in the beginning of the decade, everyone certainly did. and then, file sharing forced the hand of record labels. cheap distribution and lower overhead meant regaining a bit of their slumping sales. ultimately, though, digital music meant easier distribution for file sharers and thus, the landscape of the music industry has been forever changed by digital music.

06. reality tv. it used to be that movie stars were stars. soap opera stars were stars. sitcom stars were stars. now, we have regular, average, ordinary people as stars. why? because reality tv took joe blow and put him into the collective conscious of millions of tv viewers. whereas reality tv hearkens, largely, back to the early 90s with the real world, 2000’s survivor really ushered in the craze that is reality tv.

05. social media. will you be my friend? that’s the question you used to have to ask people in real life. now, you can just send them a friend invitation on facebook or a follow request on twitter. once again, with the advent of myspace, social media exploded onto the scene and became a legitimate cultural, global phenomenon. social media is more than just stalking your ex-girlfriend, but rather, a way to connect in meaningful ways that you might not otherwise have had a chance to do. it’s a learning opportunity, a business connecting point, a relational additive and so many more things that we’ll continue to explore over the coming years.

04. culture of war. much like the culture of fear, the culture of war is another bleak aspect of this decade. but it’s an aspect that has greatly defined the decade. after 9/11, people were looking for some way to flex our american muscles and george bush found it: we would bomb the hell out of anything that moved in the middle east. and, oh yeah, find that osama guy. you know, the guy who wasn’t in iraq? so, here we are, going into the next decade with a new president and the war persists. here’s to hoping the coming decade proves a better one in this area.

03. obama campaign/presidency. as stated, this decade provided some darks, but it also provided some lights. love him or hate him, we’ve had the privilege to witness one of the most historic campaigns and presidencies of all time. in 2007, a junior senator from illinois threw his name into the hat to become an unlikely president. with a pledge of hope and change, the unlikely senator became our new leader and commander. less than a year into his presidency, he’s accomplished an extraordinary amount, but we’ve ultimately just seen the tip of the iceberg.

02. bush presidency. this pains me. it really does. sorry obama, you’ve been trumped by our boy george. yes, you can’t spend 8 years of a decade running amok in washington without ranking this high on this list. now, before i go any further, let me say that i’m honestly not a total bush basher. i respect him as a person and think he did many, many good things (like aids relief in africa, for example). but with that said, his presidency looks to be a complete debacle in terms of what i think will prove to be long-term effects. due to his generally complete lack of global diplomacy and a shoot-first-ask-questions-later policy attitude, we’ve gained a whole new level of global suspicion and hate. if those things weren’t enough, he got us in a war that looks to have no good options for an end. thanks, george! 🙂

01. 9/11. what more can be said about 9/11? we can talk about the death toll. we can talk about the fallout in the economy or the subsequent war. we can talk about where we were when we saw it play out in the news. we can repeat all these things over and over, but nothing will fully express the devastation of that moment. it was a deeply sad day in our nation’s history and everything that has happened in the 2000s since then has existed in the shadow of that moment. without going into too much editorial commentary, i hope we continue to remember that date, but in ways that we haven’t done that much so far: the need for peaceful resolution, the power of diplomacy and the beauty of inter-religion partnerships and understanding.

so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some big stories. what are they? i’ve, no doubt, ranked some things too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.

alright, that’s the final list in my 25 in the 2000s series. hope you enjoyed it. in the next couple of days, i’ll jump into a couple best of 2009 lists to wrap up the year. check back soon!