I’m one of those hopeless nostalgics, the ones who lament about the fading away of the “good old days” and desperately, futilely tried to bring them back or recreate them somehow.
Bah! Humbug. 😉
I think I’m finally beginning to embrace the newest Turn of the Century. In fact, I’m almost beginning to feel comfortable in it, maybe even–gulp–embracing it.
It’s 2017, which means we’re into our 18th year, which means we’re rapidly approaching the 1/5 mark, which means I’m tardy to the party, but hey–better late than never, right? I mean, at least it’s not 2018 yet, or any year after that. File under: Could Be Worse. 😉
So what prompted this change of heart, this turnaround, this about-face?
As with all drastic changes in my thinking, this particular 180 didn’t occur overnight. As with all drastic changes in my thinking, it moved like tectonic drift, producing effects that are imperceptible when comparing one day to the previous (or the next), but it metamorphosed my world just the same.
Maybe it was when I got my first smartphone, in 2010, complete with its smorgasbord of available apps, so much information at my fingertips, anywhere I went, so long as there was a cell signal. And the 21st century brought much more signal coverage, even inside buildings, even off of the interstate, even in small towns.
Maybe it was when I got my first Mac laptop, and realized how cool computers these days could actually be. Maybe it was when I was perusing digitally-artistic wallpapers to use as desktop backgrounds and realized how far computer graphics have come, and that these graphics wouldn’t have been available Back In The Day.
Maybe it was listening to Nu-gaze music and finding that I really liked it, almost as much as the original shoegaze genre of the 1980s and ’90s. Or discovering Aussie rock (besides AC/DC, that is), or ambient dub or contemporary lounge or my latest musical flame, goth country (yummy 🙂 ).
Maybe it was when the Supreme Court finally enforced marriage equality in 2015. Or when Libertarian candidates finally found themselves a regular spot on the general election ballot.
Maybe it was when I discovered House MD, and later, Breaking Bad. I can’t say that movies have gotten any better, but those TV shows revealed the fact that latent talent still existed. Even better is the fact that classics like The Simpsons and Family Guy are still running (I think?).
Maybe it was the advent of WordPress, oddly enough, as it began to overtake Blogspot and LiveJournal. Blogs began to look cooler, more contemporary. The subjects and topics diverged. WP blogs proliferated and became sophisticated. More themes/layouts became available. And the blogs themselves became more and more fun to read.
Maybe it was the proliferation of social media. Suddenly we didn’t need to maintain huge email address books, or succumb to the nagging to “Go Gold!” on Classmates.com or be sure to include everyone in the annual Christmas letter. Joining Facebook–at no cost–accomplished all of that, allowing us to stay in contact with peeps from the past, as well as Those Family Members with whom you don’t feel close enough to call but don’t want to lose track of entirely and feel like strangers at holiday get-togethers. It also came in extremely handy when I needed to suddenly bolt in the middle of the night and disseminate crucial play-by-play information on the go. There’s no way I could have handled all those conversations and questions and concerns by email!
Maybe it was the medical research journals that are now voraciously shared online, studies often available on the journal’s website before they’re published.
Or maybe it was the new and exciting directions that that research is taking. We’re discovering cytokines, biochemical pathways, new physiological functions, and so much more. My own med school education is already quite outdated!
Maybe it was the life/game-changing information that has been true for me my whole life but not available online until the past few years: Asperger’s in females, and adult ones at that. I was able to take online quizzes, look up the official diagnostic criteria, read firsthand blogs of other Aspie females, and essentially find myself. None of this information was available before.
None of these capabilities existed in the 20th century–at least, not nearly as widespread, free-flowing, or user-friendly.
Or maybe it’s that people are more open and accepting of “alternative” lifestyles and ways of being. The fact that there’s an Actually-Autistic movement, terminology to explain who and what I am (bi-romantic, asexual, and non-binary), and there are Facebook groups and Twitter communities that provide support and encouragement and indeed self-validity–are all 21st century blessings to me.
I think my newfound optimism for the Here and Now (and even the future!), is probably due to all of these. They’re what I like about the 21st century.
Sure, it’s nice to long for days of innocence and ignorance, when life was simple, the world was flat, and decisions were easy (or at least easier).
But when I grieve for the passage of time and long for days past, what am I really longing for? I do miss the music, clothing, radio stations, and MTV lineup of the ’80s and ’90s, but as an adult, I realize that that’s not the extent of the world, nor of our lives; the world itself is a much more complicated and expansive place, and there’s so much more to explore.
I have realized in recent years, that there are so many aspects of previous decades that I’m glad to see gone, dead, and buried. Examples include the stronghold of Christianity on my country (a philosophy that I don’t share), the closeting of the LGBT+ community, the words “freak” and “retard” just for being different, the scarcity of information, and the 12 channels in any given broadcast TV market.
I enjoy the widespread self-expression and increasing acceptance of people different from ourselves, the high-speed availability of a staggering amount of information at any time of day, the grassroots movements, increasing awareness of–and support for–small business, locally-grown food, organic food, and so on.
I don’t enjoy certain aspects of the 21st century, such as the endless merging and consolidation of huge corporations, leaving fewer options for consumers to choose from, the constant software updates, the barrage of notifications and targeted advertising, the data-mining, the opportunistic real estate locustry of greedy and lazy people from the coasts, the entitlement mentality, the data mining that compromises privacy, the polarization of the population (just take a look at Regressive Leftism and you’ll see what I mean), the Idiocracy that is “Brave New World” meets “1984”, and whatnot.
But that’s for another post. And I’m sure there will be a separate post on exactly those phenomena.
But for now, I cue up another House MD DVD, blog on my no-cost WordPress blog from my smartphone, and get ready to peruse the free-full-text archives of medical journals from my laptop’s wifi connection from my couch. 😉
And I would say that I rather like it. 🙂