20 years ago, I probably rang in the New Year with Prince’s 1983 hit, Party Like It’s 1999.
It would be a long time till I’d feel like partying, again.
In 1999, my daughter was in middle school. Columbine happened. It was far away, in another state, but we were still capable of feeling shock, fear, and horror over mass shootings – especially when it came to our public schools, our children. Children killing children. It was impossible to wrap our heads around it.
In the fall, we had police officers on deck. I can remember explaining to my daughter that they were there to protect students, not to hurt them. Over the years, it came to seem normal to have armed cops patrolling schools, but in 1999, it felt like the aftermath of a full-blown terrorist attack. Twenty years later, the memory of Columbine – and each new mass school shooting – still does.
20 years ago, Bill Gates became the richest man in the world. Reading lists of “things that happened in 1999” makes clear that things we thought were a big deal then would hardly even register in the cobwebbed corners of memory, twenty years later. I’m sure we thought, then, that we would never forget. With the Internet in its infancy, I’m sure many of us were blissfully unaware of some of the larger natural disasters and mass killings on opposite sides of the world. And no one would have expected it to be otherwise.
20 years ago, I’d just started blogging, using Pyra Labs’ Blogger to add some dynamic updating to my static website, because I was busy and bored with updating and uploading whole pages of HTML. I wanted to be able to add updates on the fly, using email or a web interface that did not require formatting and wrapping everything in HTML code. One of my first blog posts consisted of my attempt to figure out exactly what a “blog” was, and why I cared. Later, I would go “vanity surfing” (the term had not yet been coined, but we all get curious, eventually) and found I’d been mentioned on the HindustanTimes website, by tech columnist Deepak Mankar, as a “veteran blogger.” He’d quoted that blog post and my utterly made-up definition of blogging. I’ll admit that I am still amused and inordinately pleased by that, twenty years later.
20 years ago, famed film critic, Gene Siskel, died. So did Stanley Kubrik, Joe DiMaggio, and Shel Silverstein. I still refuse to believe that last is true, but maybe he’s frolicking with those silly unicorns he taught us about.
The words bling, blog, blogger, blogosphere, carbon footprint, chillax, clickbait, dashcam, e-reader, Gen Z, hoarding disorder, snark, texting, and vape entered the lexicon, according to Merriam-Webster.
Perhaps most importantly, we didn’t die as the calendar flipped over to ’00 and the “Y2K Scare” fizzled into a non-event, thanks to the work done ahead of time by programmers.
As the calendar approached the year 2000, anxiety spread across the world as people feared that computer systems would shut down. Banking institutions which relied on software programs to calculate daily interest were at risk of system failure. As a result, stock prices of banking institutions dropped in value as the year 2000 neared. Transport systems were also affected especially in the airline business whose operations depend on accurate time and date. There were rumors that planes would drop from the sky when clocks turned to midnight on 31st Dec 1999. This led travelers to avoid the airport on New Year’s Eve. Hospitals, power plants, and government organizations were not spared from the threats either.
I can remember watching television as each nation welcomed the new Millennium (despite my belief that it would not begin until 2001), and breathing a small sigh of relief around lunch time, confident that if computers in Australia didn’t fail, they wouldn’t here, either. I am looking forward to the coming year, and in some ways I hope that it is as happily “uneventful” as Y2K turned out to be.
I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop – the torch passed to me by Anamika Agnihotri, aka, The Bespectacled Mother, at https://thebespectacledmother.com/ and now, I shall pass it along to Mahati Ramya of Fantastic Feathers, at https://www.fantasticfeathers.in/. There are 29 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 1st, 2nd and 3rd November 2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!
No good Blog Hop functions without quite a bit of energy and effort on the part of its hosts, so do be sure to follow and show a little extra love to @kohleyedme @parul2411 and @