Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breathless and Without Pants: A Decade in Review

January is always a crossroads month. Everyone seems ready to jump back into the routine, clear out clutter and get busy. Yet, it is also a great time to take a moment and examine the territory we have crossed, and look toward the future path ahead. It is a time of forgiving, forgetting, organizing, dreaming, planning and resolving.

The weight of a new decade makes this process even more poignant. Before jumping back into the daily grind, let's take a moment to pause and consider: where were you ten years ago? What did the world look like to you then, and what did you hope for? What did you imagine the world would look like in 2010?

Imagine you are holding the last decade like a Star Trek style crystal prism in your hand where you can twist, turn, and review images from 2000-2010. When the ball dropped exactly ten years ago at the dawning of the new millennium, everyone was in world wide panic about "Y2K" and world wide destruction. Remember that ultimate dénouement?

Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court was debating who would be president. Al Gore lost, bummed out for a year or so, made up a slide show - and now global warming is a household word. The world has been rocked by severe weather patterns world-wide, melted glaciers, extinct species of animals, and polluted waters. Who knows how we will deal with it in the next ten years.

A decade ago, September 11th had not yet happened, and flying in an airplane was still a pleasant experience. We were not at war. We did not know what swine flu was, and had no idea the entire financial market would crash, leaving millions broke, out of a job and without health care. Gas prices in 2000 averaged about $1.46/gallon.

In the year 2000, only 35% of us had email, and most of us had never heard of a laptop or had a cell phone. We had hobbies then. We actually talked on the land line, watched TV shows at the time they were aired, and listened to an entire CD for music entertainment.

When you get right down to it, the fundamental changes in how we interact with one another over the last decade are beyond astounding. Think of it:

•Today over 85% of American's use cell phones and 81% of use their phones for data use; texting, emails, photos or games. My kids rarely "talk" on their phones.

•A decade ago, the word "blog" did not exist. In fact, Brad Graham, the man who coined the word, "blogosphere" died this week at the age of 41. See NPR article here:
Now there are over 900,000 blogs posts written every day.

•Wikipedia launched in 2001- and is now the largest reference source world wide- written by anyone and everyone. Goodbye encyclopedias and dictionaries.

•A couple of brainiac PhD students invented Google, just over ten years ago, and today Larry Page is worth over 12 billion dollars at age 36.

•Social Networking dominates our culture, yet only came on the scene in the last half of the decade. Check out this time warp: YouTube launched in 2005, Facebook - a toddler of a new business, launched in 2007 and Twitter - veritable baby, hit the streets in November, 2008.

Today, over 200 million of us are using Facebook, with no end in sight.
"Every once in a while a platform comes along that allows people to build a completely new application -- sometimes even starts new industries," said Mark Zuckerberg at his national launch a mere THREE years ago.

Has this ride down memory lane left your head spinning? No wonder Arianna is on a campaign for more sleep! The past decade has been dark at times, intense, and flying along like the California wildfires. I don't know about you, but I need a break. Before we barrel ahead into the next ten years, let's step off the roller coaster for a while, gain some perspective, and reflect on the pure possibility of what is to come.

When Kings and Queens found themselves stressed out with the weight of the world on their shoulders, they would call in the Court Jester or the Fool. The sheer frivolity of their antics would counterbalance life's magnitude, and bring joyful laughter.

The world could use a few Court Jesters- and I found a one in the subterfuge group, Improv Everywhere. Their purpose is to "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places." Their New Year's mission is called, "No Pants Subway Ride 2010." Overwhelmed by the decade looming ahead? Feeling defeated by your New Year's resolutions already? Just take your pants off!

This Sunday in New York City, thousands of people are riding the subways - and calmly taking their pants off while going about their everyday business. That's right. Imagine sitting on the blue line, texting away in 2010 bliss, only to notice your neighbor shedding her jeans and waiting for her next stop in her panties - and they guy next to her in his boxers. Why you ask? Well, why not?

No matter how far our technologies push us, or what scary disaster is waiting around the corner, nothing can replace the tenacity of the human spirit, or our uncanny ways to come together.
Check it out:

Pants on, or pants off; here's to another ten years. Enjoy the ride!

SO, Huff Po readers, what amazed you in the past ten years? What funny ways do you counterbalance life's weights? Love to hear your comments below, and feel free to follow me on Facebook. Click on Become a Fan to receive weekly updates.

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