June 1st, 2005, a day that will live in… obscurity.
Do you remember what you were doing in 2005? 8 years ago. A person could have graduated college twice in that much time, or watched every episode of How I Met Your Mother on its original air date. There’s been somewhere in the vicinity of 30 million births in that time; 15 million deaths. A black man was elected the President of the United States, twice!
The passage of time is notched with innumerable road markers.
Think about all the bands and artists you had almost certainly never heard of before 2005: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bon Iver, Lykke Li, Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, Bloc Party, Passion Pit, Beirut, Bat For Lashes, My Brightest Diamond, Fleet Foxes, The Swell Season, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, Band of Horses, A Fine Frenzy, Justice, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, the Dodos, Laura Marling, Eisley, She & Him, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Florence + The Machine, The XX… and that’s just in the indie music sphere.
Mad Men and Breaking Bad couldn’t even have existed on television in 2005. Marvel Comic’s strategy of transporting their entire comic universe to the big screen was getting them laughed out of studio meetings (putting Robert Downey, Jr. in your movies was still considered a risky move). Your sister probably hadn’t even picked up a copy of Twilight yet (well, not all the changes have been positive).
“iPhone? What’s an iPhone?” <- That’s you in 2005. Loser.
The point is, the world has changed considerably in the years since I began 10 Cities / 10 Years, and most of those changes happened without us noticing the shift. From year to year, month to month, day to day, our world evolves and the changes just sort of wash over us. But if you pick a date on an old calender and compare it to the current moment in history, the changes are a monsoon.
The Trees for the Forest
Our world transforms at a rate that would be completely incomprehensible to past generations. As those changes come about more rapidly, we evolve to adapt just as quickly, which in turn leads to an even greater rate of change.
But humans don’t really change all that much.
Every few years or so there’s a new article about how this generation is so strange and different and how can the older generation possibly understand them and will these young’uns ever mature and why won’t they get off our lawns? These articles focus on the generational trends and ignore that the underlying motivations and desires of individuals are the same as they always have been. Just because this generation is getting married at 28 instead of 23 doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t a priority. Love, lust, procreation, these will always be the reason we get out of bed (and back into it *rimshot*).
Cultures change rapidly. Species evolve gradually.
We’re here, in the future. Two years from now we’ll have hoverboards and self-lacing sneakers, and man will that be a crazy time, but until then we’ve got a pretty amazing world. There’s a lot of focus on the ills of technology, but from where I sit (in my apartment in New Orleans, where I’d be struggling to breathe if it weren’t for central air), we live in a great future. Literature of the 20th century told us that by this point in human history we would be ruled by a Hitlerian-authority or living in a burnt out nuclear wasteland.
It’s not very hip for futurists to paint with an optimistic brush, but every day we move closer towards Gene Roddenberry’s vision and away from George Orwell’s. Frankly, I hope to be using a transporter to get to work by 2020. Hell, I demand it.
In two years, I’ll be finished with a project that I have devoted my adult life to. I don’t know what I’ll do after that. I imagine there will be a great feeling of relief at the end, as well as a sort of sad emptiness knowing that a major portion of my life is complete. But my life won’t be over. Nor will the life of this crazy, terrible, beautiful, fantastic species.
There are still books to be written, songs to be composed, movies to be filmed. We aren’t anywhere near being done yet.
So answer 2 questions for me:
8 years ago you were doing _______?
8 years from now you will be doing _______?
Happy June 1st everyone.