Notes on a decade

Born near the turn of a decade, the decades of the marked years neatly match my own personal decades.  The 2010s were pretty much my 30s.  Probably I was less in tune culturally than I was in the 2000s / 20s.  Or maybe I was REALLY tuned in.  Who can say?  Sometimes re: “current events”, they did feel like little more than backdrop to my own personal dramas.  If nothing else I was present for a lot of cool moments, the finales of The Office and VEEP, for example.

For that I’m grateful.

Helytimes was launched in 2012, out of a desire to claim a space for myself on what we still called “the Internet,” plus a sense that figuring out how to write online would be important.  Haven’t quite made it to ten years yet, which I remember setting as a benchmark to strive for.

The 2010s decade, if we’re being flexible, has to begin with the September 2008 financial crisis and aftermath.  The bad guys really did get away with it.  That’s a fact we’ve had to sit with all decade, and I think it’s an ugly, unpleasant fact that lies beneath a lot of the roiling turmoil since then.  A small percentage of people rigged the economy and were reckless with the lives of others, and mostly left others holding the bag and were never held to account.

Did it all begin here?

The decade was really split by the shock of the 2016 election.  A troubling, disturbing shock, even to the guy who won!  When I consider that was almost four years ago it feels weird, I’m still kinda not out of the initial dizziness that Donald J. Trump is the President.  It feels like it warbles the universe to even write that and have it be true.

Historywise, what was this decade?  Was it good?  Was it bad?  Was it tumultuous?  Are we brimming with more hope than we were in 2009?  If you were making one of those CNN docs of the decade, what would you have to include?  The fact that it is kinda hard to answer does – well I don’t want to say it disappoints, but it might suggests this was not a decade of great innovation.

Art and culture of the 2010s?  How were they distinct from the 2000s?  I can’t name the true trends in music, or even film or TV.  What about literature?  Here we are in 2019 and who’s a hot young writer?  Sally Rooney?  Jia Tolentino?  Is there anyone else who pops out of this decade in literature?

Technology-wise, 2010 was very different for me than 2000, when I didn’t own a phone.  But I don’t think 2019 is that different from 2010.

The big ticket of the 2010s, it seems to me, is “social media.”  My phone regularly reports to me that I spend five or so hours on it A DAY, and I don’t think I’m that unusual.  Twitter, Insta, TikTok, etc.  Gaming streams? Social is where people live.

Is sorting the decades by their cultural touchstones itself kind of a Boomer idea?  Feels like it became strongest with “the Sixties.”  As David Halberstam pointed out in his book, it wasn’t like nothing was going on in the ’50s, it just felt like that for a certain generation which hadn’t yet come awake.

maybe thinking about “decades” is itself an old idea, we’re so fast now we’re on years, months, days, moments.

Moments.  Were the 2010s the decade of moments?  We could capture and share moments better than ever before.  I remember a tech bro pitching me an idea in Austin for some kind of photo storing service.  “I was getting so sick of missing moments,” he said.  Within a few months another person pitched me essentially the same idea, though neither time did I really understand what the problem was, exactly, nor the solution.

One quality the 2020s will need is hope.  One of the best things there is is hope, and here’s hoping for a decade of amazing moments for Helytimes readers, and well heck, why not wish everyone a peaceful, happy, prosperous decade with just the right amount of excitement.

I put on Spotify’s best of the decade and man, I’d forgotten this one:

CeeLo’s “Fuck You” if the link dies, as they inevitably do.



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