2003 – The Last Relevant Year

“Hilary Clinton has a sustainable public opinion lead for the next presidential election with Jeb Bush lagging far behind.  In an interview, Al Gore said he was thinking of running again.  When asked why, he responded by saying “He had a name from the 90’s.” – Conan O’Brien

While I was doing some light spring cleaning given it is the beginning of a new season of flowers and warmth, I found my high school report on Wyoming.  With no help from the non-existent internet, I wrote to the Department of Commerce and received flyers, stickers and postcards and all the information a young geography student would need.  So I filled out my index cards, taped a collage of stickers and cards and wrote the best state report ever.  It was a work of beauty.  I even created a mock itinerary of a trip I took there.  Finally, I drew a kick ass map.  Before you ask, of course I got an A.  How is this relevant to 2003, given that this report was written about 200 years before that?  Clearly, the internet was already around by 2003 and the peak of AOL chat rooms were already gone.

In 2003 and 2004 we began to lose our will to live.  Dreaming became a hashtag, Ambition was consolidated to 140 characters and connecting became playing WarCraft with a teen geek 3000 miles away from you.  The world as we knew it lost its identify.

Here is how the downfall transpired: 

May,  2003 – Linkedin is Launched.  The workforce is now online.  Man your cubicles
May 23, 2003 – WordPress is released.  Now we can all finally have an opinion.
January, 2004 – Myspace is in our face
January 4, 2004 – Gmail begins a world of spam
February, 2004 – We’ve been Fickr’d.  Smile!!!!
March 1, 2004 – Facebook rears its ugly head beginning a decade of alienation, depression, loneliness, narcissism and more….
October, 2004 – Yelp disguises food reviews with a cult online community
December 5, 2004 – Do you DIGG it?
February, 2005 – YouTube is on the air.  Everyone smile!!! You are an instant celebrity
July, 2005 – Mashable becomes the gossip column for the geek and later hipster community
September 2, 2005 – Facebook invades high schools
July 15, 2006 – The little blue bird Tweets his way into the spotlight
October 4, 2006 – WikiLeaks brings espionage into the mix
May, 2007 – I think we Stumbled Upon something new
May 24, 2007 – Facebook allows developers to add games to the platform (rut row)
July 29, 2007 – IPhone lands on Earth and we will never be the same
March 11, 2009 – Foursquare is now making it easier for robbers to know when you are out

There are thousands of studies, articles and observations every day focused on increased cased of depression, our inability to communicate in a live setting, obsession with our smartphone, constant need for gratification on our social profiles, peer pressure to belong to some online community, increases in infidelity, emotional numbness among millenials, apathy toward religion, cyber stalking and a lost sense of value and respect.

I don’t need to repeat it.

I often found myself reverting back to shows like Ed and Becker and wondered why.  I thought for some time it may have been because it was the last time my mother was alive.  I also think subconsciously, it was the last time I remember feeling and connecting with others with emotion and passion.

On the evening when President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, I was at a bar on King Street in Charleston.  The news was leaked to me by a student sitting once bench over just before the live press conference (his friend was interning in Washington, but don’t tell anyone).  As he took the podium,  the bar got silent and then a huge cheer and group clap ensued.  The bartender closed the television and then bought a round of shots.  It was a Sunday, so it wasn’t crazy busy.  Five minutes later, we were all talking about beer, girls, sports and school.  It was an immediate and absolute reaction.  No time to let it sink in or absorb.

When 9/11 hit, I remember every minute of the next 72 hours and what it meant to me, my family and friends.  That night, I sat on a rock and looked up at the sky and heard nothing.  No planes anywhere.  It was a surreal moment of deep reflection.

I don’t think we reflect anymore.

I wish we could all experience pre-2003 one more time and for those that never have, it was a wonderful time for humanity.

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