#WordsMatter

Party Like It’s 2019 #WordsMatter

1 Nov , 2019  

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 @CorinneBlogs , without whom this monthly event would not happen.

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28 Responses

  1. Y2K was a big-time scare at that time. It was considered to be a matter of shame in school, then, if anyone didn’t know what was it all about. Half of 1999, I was in the last year of school and the later half found me brooding which has been briefly accounted for on my blog. Bill Gates was a topic for GK questions in India then and the mass shootings of USA did not percolate down to Indian news at that time or if it did sparingly, I was grossly unaware of it. Mass shootings in public schools, universities, malls, anywhere is a grave thing to happen and yet it continues. Sad.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…The time that was 20 years ago #WordsMatterMy Profile

  2. Jyothi Nair says:

    Wow! You are a Veteran Blogger. I had never even heard of Pyra Labs until now. It is lovely meeting you through #wordsmatter.
    Jyothi Nair recently posted…The Sheesha StoryMy Profile

  3. How things have changed in the last twenty years because of the internet boom, isn’t it? And yes, often the things we thought would be a big deal end up not being so.

  4. Wow, you listed so many events 20 years ago. Great that your blog definition got featured on Hindustan times. We were are all curious about Y2K during that time, I remember now.

  5. The last year I thought I was happily married…

  6. Shilpa Garg says:

    Oh yes, Y2K was a big tech scare back then! I remember the media frenzy around it and how it would kill us all. But thankfully this digital apocalypse never happened
    How time flies!!
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…5 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago #WordsMatterMy Profile

  7. Ruchi Nasa says:

    Wow ! You have been blogging so long! Great to feel connected.
    Ruchi Nasa recently posted…Reflections!!My Profile

  8. Obsessivemom says:

    Oh Holly I’d love to read that piece you mentioned. Did you leave a link which I missed? I’ve blogged for about thirteen years and I thought I was a veteran but you are the veteran of all veterans it would seem. It’s wonderful that you’ve stuck to your passion of writing and blogging all these years.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Throwback TimesMy Profile

  9. Twenty years ago, I did not even know how to use a computer, owning one was something that could only be dreamed of. And there you were, actually blogging! Wow!

  10. Your 20 years back is so interesting and different from our 20 years back. The time you started blogging I was not even aware of the word blog. Also, I did not know how to work on a computer. Veteran Blogger … wow, that is a great thing!
    Shubhra Rastogi recently posted…What I Would Love to Tell my Younger Self #WordsMatterMy Profile

  11. Ah interesting, as usual! I wish we all could see Deepak’s column. How wonderful that you got a mention.
    Columbine forever changed things in the US schools I think. It’s difficult to comprehend why it didn’t become a defining moment for gun control.

  12. Very interesting, we used to discuss Y2K in school, our teachers were all trying to educate us what Y2K really meant and why we need to be scared, but that seems like a joke today. In 1999 we were all so dreamy about some Miss Universe and Miss World, and what they wore, how they soke, the type of answer that got them there, all that seem so unworthy now. Time teaches us many things.

  13. Pragya Bhatt says:

    I almost forgot we survived Y2K. Cheers to that !!!

  14. Well, I’m not a part of your writing project, but I remember way too much about 1999 that I’m surprising myself.

    It was the last time I saw members of one side of my family and my next to last family reunion on the other side of my family. Flew to Kansas City for the first one, where I went to the Negro Baseball and Jazz Museums and saw that both the house I lived in while Dad was in Vietnam and the school I went to have been razed; good!

    The second one started with a train trip to Chicago to meet members of my wife’s side of the family for the first and last time. In the middle of the train ride we hit a bump that knocked my back out. Four days later we drove to Detroit for the 2nd one where I learned about nasty little beasties called fish flies; yuck! I also caught up with one of my favorite cousins and in the process of giving her a big hug while picking her up my back snapped back into place; whew! Drove back through Canada to Niagara Falls where I thought the custom agent asked if there was a fire alarm in the car… and I started looking for it. Two minutes later, after we started driving away because he was laughing and my wife was still laughing I was told he was asking about a firearm; glad I didn’t get pulled over!

    That’s enough for now; I could turn this into a tome of a post! 🙂
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Does Blogging Work For Business?My Profile

    • You know, you COULD be part of the writing project! (Not this round, if you care about the linky thingy – but anyone can join in – just visit Corinne’s site, The Frangipani Creative, and find the signup sheet for the next round of #WordsMatter. Looks like you found inspiration for a whole post! Wait, did you just pull a Holly, here, writing a post in my comments? 😀 Thank you! Feels like old times, Mitch.

  15. Rajlakshmi says:

    wow you truly are a veteran blogger. I didn’t even know about blogging back then. I didn’t even own a computer. I actually believed that clickbait is a recent term. Looks like people have been doing it for twenty years now. Ah Y2K! I used to read about it too… trying to understand why everyone was scared about it. I enjoyed reading your post. What a trip down the memory lane.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Sunset in Batemans Bay | AustraliaMy Profile

    • I thought “clickbait” was more recent, myself, to be honest. Blogging, “back then,” was much more of an exercise in public journaling and storytelling than what it has morphed into over the past two decades. I miss that. Granted, there was a lot of boring navel-gazing and a LOT OF TEENAGED ANGST (now those teenagers have grown up, it’s turned into middle-aged ruminations and midlife crisis-type angst, so in a sense, not much has changed, there!)

  16. I was completely unaware of Y2K problem then. I was just 10 years old when it happened. It was only later or say after many years I read about it and was informed about it!

  17. Wow, you’ve been blogging for such a long time ! On another subject, yes, I remember Columbine. I believe most Americans won’t forget it. It was a sad and tragic. Luckily for us, good things also happen.

    Cheers for sharing your thoughts and the video with Prince. It made my day!

    • I’m very glad to hear that it made your day, Jean Francois. It’s nice when social media can bring a smile, and not leave us feeling grumpy. I try to do that, but it helps to be reminded that it matters. Thank you. And yes, it has been a long time blogging! I start these things out of curiosity – I started my first website in 1994, because I wanted to learn HTML. Back then, most websites consisted of lists – lists of all the CDs the webmaster owned. Borrrring!!! OMG, so boring. I didn’t want to BE as boring as I thought 99% of the sites I ran across seemed to me! I started one of the first (not THE first, of course) writing sites, and tried to seek out and link together all the others I liked. One of them is still there! http://www.underdown.org/oldnews.htm (scroll all the way to the bottom, but he only admits to the site history going back to 1996! LOL) Another is mentioned there – InkSpot. I’m still friends with Debbie (we met on GEnie, even before she had a site), but InkSpot was bought by Writing.com (of which I am a member, but an infrequent visitor). Talented folks, both of them. Honestly don’t remember most of the other sites I found (and probably many of them were hosted on the now-defunct GeoCities! https://www.cnet.com/news/geocities-dies-in-march-2019-and-with-it-a-piece-of-internet-history/ – well, some of us thought it already HAD died and someone forgot to bury it, but that shows what I know!)

  18. Parul Thakur says:

    Oh the Y2K scare and all that. 20 years ago times were so different. I did not use a computer back then. I was in school and we were not taught computer as a subject.
    Great post, Holly. I loved how you brought these memories out for the prompt.
    Parul Thakur recently posted…#ThursdayTreeLove – 75My Profile

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