Defining a decade

We’ve been watching a programme on BBC3 called ‘The noughties – was that it?” I do enjoy these retrospectives of an era; the ‘I love the 80s’ series was, to my mind,  something of a nostalgia epic. Comparisons are naturally drawn as to which was the most momentous, influential, stylish, and cultural decade that really left its stamp on the years.

At present it seems difficult to put a finger on the noughties, although perhaps it’s not possible to do so while we’re still living through it. It’s almost certainly too soon for any sense of nostalgia to have developed and it’ll likely also take us a while yet to be able to define what has marked the times in which we’ve been living.

Typically for a BBC3 effort the series is rather celeb based (although perhaps also an indicator of the time in itself?) of which I can claim to hold only limited interest. Nevertheless in areas of lifestyle we can probably say we’ve seen the early stages of some technological revolutions during the noughties. At the start of the decade the internet was picking up a head of steam, yet most users still languished on dial-up and it had yet to reach across the whole age demographic.

Nowadays shopping or bidding in auctions on the internet is very much mainstream. We might still go to a bookshop, or we might just as likely go on Amazon. Looking for something hard to find? No end of people will suggest to look on Ebay. The online has not replaced the offline, which I suspect most would agree is a good thing, as both offer pros and cons, but the internet does offer potential and possibilities never before dreamt of.

The rise of open-to-all gold mines of information such as Wikipedia and the various mapping websites has for me marked one of the greatest advances. The internet was all about the free exchange of information back in the mid-90s and although business people moved in on the turf, looking to make a buck, the likes of Wikipedia really harks back to this earlier time and yet has become an astounding success in the here and now.

I recall in my youth wanting to know more about particular subjects, people, places, things. Aside from what may have been available in the local library you were generally out of luck. Now, irrespective of how potentially trivial the topic, it is almost certainly catered for. No longer do disputes of fact go unresolved; the answers are out there and I think this is immensely liberating and empowering for all.

In other areas though I have to wonder about the noughties. I don’t follow the music scene very closely these days but the output on the radio seems to indicate that little has moved on from the 90s. On TV we seem to have returned to 1970s talent shows, albeit very popular. I suppose only time, detachment and hindsight will tell if we’ve experienced something new in the past decade or just a continuation of older trends.

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