Whether you are of the most formal school of thought in which the new millennium started in 2000 or of the common practice of tracing the beginning to the year 2001, one thing we can all agree on is, these last ten (or eleven) years have been filled with history making events.
From Generation Y coming to age, to the first Black President of the US, this millennium is already off to a rocket start.
Let’s take a look at some of the most significant events in the areas of science, politics, religion, and pop culture that have come to shape the 21st Century and even perhaps the Third Millennium.
SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY
Pluto Is No Longer A Planet – In 2005, scientists discovered Eris in the Kuiper Belt, a region of the Solar System, much like the Asteroid Belt, extending past Neptune filled with frozen dwarf planets. Eris was found to be larger than Pluto and in 2006 Pluto was demoted from planetary status to dwarf planet. So now, there are 8 planets and several dwarf planets in our Solar System.
Space Tourism – In 2001, American multimillionaire Dennis Tito became the first person to pay for his own “ticket into space.” Provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency, Tito paid $20 million dollars for an 8 day excursion into space. So far, only a handful of extremely wealthy individuals have made the journey into space as an explorer. The RFSA is currently the only agency worldwide that offers such elaborate jaunts. There are several private companies working on ideas to use space stations as hotels. The hope is that by 2020, space may be the next St Tropez.
The Digital Decade – In 2001, Apple released the iPod and did for the 2000’s what Sony’s Walkman did for the 80’s. Digital sales of music have gone thru the roof ever since. Music was not the only area affected. Across the world, TV has all but phased out analog signals. In the US the FCC mandated that by 2009 all analog signals had to convert to digital.
Social Networking/ Blogging – With the advent and meteoric success of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Google and Bing, anyone with internet access has the propensity to be a full fledged star! And, many have become just that. Justin Bieber was just a kid singing on YouTube and now he is one of the most famous people in the world. The rise of social networking has opened the doors to fame and fortune for many. Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook is now the world’s youngest billionaire. Social networking has allowed people all across the world to become closer than ever before, without even leaving their homes.
George W Bush Steals (?) An Election – The eldest son of former President George H W Bush, became the first president of the new millennium in 2001 after a hotly contested presidential election in 2000. Even after two terms and a new president, to this day there lies bitterness in the mouths of many Americans. The 2000 Election’s came to a stalemate when votes in Florida became subject for great debate. Terms like “chads” and “recount” became embedded in the political lexicon. For the first time ever, the US Supreme Court had to decide who won. They obviously sided with George W Bush over Vice President Al Gore.
The Women’s Movement – In the past ten years women have made significant advances in the “Good Old Boys Club” otherwise known as politics. In 2000, First Lady Hillary Clinton was elected junior senator for NY. Making her the first First Lady ever to be elected to any type of governmental post and also the first female senator to represent the state of NY. In 2006, California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. She was reelected to that position in 2009; however with the Democrats loosing the House in this years election, she will no longer be speaker in 2011. Alaskan Governor Sarah Pallin came from obscurity to become the first woman ever to be nominated to run for vice president by the Republican party in 2008.
The First Black President – In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama became the first Black man nominated to run for president. He went on to win the presidency becoming the first Black President of the US in our 232 year history! It was a proud moment for all Americans. Blacks who remembered when they couldn’t even vote and people from all walks of life made the 2008 presidential elections one of the most participated elections in history.
The first few years of this millennium/century have seen a few significant events in the area of religion. Chief among them, was the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In April 2005, Pope John Paul II died, sending the world’s billion or so Catholics and even the world in general into mourning. John Paul was the only pope that many people ever knew, reigning from 1978 until his death. His was the second longest pontificate to be recorded. Following his death, the Catholic church elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany to become pope. He took the name Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict became the first German pope in 400 years.
The past ten years have also seen a rise in allegations and scandals of sex abuse by Catholic priests against children. Such stories can be traced to the 80’s but it has been in the last decade that the proverbial lid has been blown. From well known and much loved cardinals and archbishops to local and unknown parish priests, allegations have hit many parts of the Catholic Church. Particularly in America where many dioceses have been ordered by courts to make restitutions to victims.
DISASTERS and WARS
The September 11 Attacks – For the first time in history, the United States was attacked in a time of peace. Nineteen terrorists, Muslim extremists, led by Osama Bin Laden hijacked airplanes and used them as missiles, striking the World Trade Center in NY, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania presumably heading to the US Capitol or White House. In total, about 3,000 innocent people were killed. These horrific events became a watershed moment in history. Nothing has ever been the same since.
War On Terror – Because of the 9/11 attacks, America took up the mantle of fighting terrorists worldwide. Invading Afghanistan and Iraq to bring down the terrorist regimes of Al Queda and Saddam Hussein, who was captured and beheaded. To this day, American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Natural Disasters – In the past decade, Humanity has seen enough natural disasters to last a lifetime. Earthquakes all over the world have been more dangerous than in times past. In 2004, a tsunami triggered by an unheard of 9.3 magnitude earthquake killed approximately 230,000 people in several countries in Southeast Asia. 250,000 people died in an earthquake in the Caribbean nation of Haiti. In Europe, during the summer of 2003, an unprecedented heat wave killed thousands of people. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita almost wiped out New Orleans killing 2,000 people and creating billions in collateral damage.
Reality TV – Starting in the 90’s, reality TV didn’t quite catch on until the 2000’s. With shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice, America’s Next Top Model and The Real Housewives, becoming a star is as easy as sending in an audition tape to any number of shows. Covering virtually all points of interest, reality TV has put an end to the sitcom era of TV. Long gone are the days of Seinfeld, Friends or Will and Grace. It seems that reality TV is here to stay.
Deaths – There were many deaths in this past decade ranging from national icons such as Coretta Scott King, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford to internationally recognized figures such as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (sister and mother of Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Rainier III of Monaco husband of the American Princess Grace Kelly. In particular, 2009 saw an unusual amount of celebrity deaths including Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur. None were as mourned as was the King of Pop, Michael Jackson when he died in June 2009. Not since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, was a public figure’s death so widely regarded as an international event.
Film and Music – The 20 highest grossing movies of all time were released in the 2000’s. From Avatar to The Lord of The Rings and the Harry Potter series, these movies grossed well into the trillions. In music, Rap and Hip Hop reached their commercial peaks. The best selling artist of the decade being Eminem with an astounding 32 million records sold. Britney Spears became the highest selling female artist of the decade.
Generation Y – The progeny of the Baby Boomers, also known as the Millennials, being born between 1978 – 1990 have come into their adulthood in the 2000’s. Many voted for the first time, graduated from college and held down jobs. A few even moved out on their own and started their families. Coming of age in the Internet Revolution, you would be hard pressed to find a member of Gen Y outside of the loop as far as the latest technological advances. Many Gen Y’ers are at the head some of the leading Fortune 500 companies. Many of which were started by them as well.
There is absolutely no way that we could cover every single event of the past decade. Hopefully the few that we did reflect on gives you hope and inspiration for the next 10 years!
What are some of your ideas for the next decade? Has history surpassed your hopes and expectations from ten years ago? What will make the list in 2020? Will you be reading Socialtik from your window seat on your way to vacation on the moon?