The anticipated Y2K Apocalypse is behind us. The world did not "end"and we are all still here. When the Waterford Crystal ball dropped in Times Square, it was no more of an ending to the world than when it turned year 2000 in Sydney or Moscow or Paris or London in the hours before. It was another New Year. (Which midnight was to strike the end anyway?)
I am still not really sure if we are into the new century and the new millennium now in the year 2000 or if it is more correct that we are officially in the new century and millennium next year in 2001. I suppose it depends how you count the years. We have this entire year to debate that issue and by the time we are done debating we will definitely be in the new century and millennium.
Doesn't it seem that we should be commenting on our place in the history of Western Civilization? Shouldn't we be heralding in this New Age in Time by exclaiming something about this time we live in with the appropriate cliche' ridden announcements? Ahhh!! Here is a big Y2K "problem"!
Can we say that the new century and the new millennium is a time of great hope? Hope for what? What are we, as a world, hoping for? With the collapse of the great icons of Communism in the late 20th century, we realized something that we had forgotten - 'be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it'! Now what is going on with those nations formerly controlled by "evil communism"? We are back to "little" and "smaller" wars and the strife not dissimilar to that experienced during the turning of the last millennium! These wars and disputes bring on controversy, destruction, misery and death in the very same way as the "bigger" wars do.
Can we say that entering the new century and millennium is a time of "great excitement"? I doubt that we can honestly say that. We are too numbed by our world in 2000 to be really excited about anything. We are anesthetized by the removal of the element of surprise. We have succeeded in beating Mother Nature into submission. We have been lobotomized by the franchising, commercialization, formulazation and equalization of our times. Political "correctness" is controlling the way we think for ourselves and removing our individuality. We now fear the very expression of our convictions, thoughts and feelings which we are entitled to, right, wrong or indifferent. Ensuring the rights of some has been at that the expense of others and we should be agitated about that, but we aren't.
Everything has been studied and formulas made for all of it. Do you want to know how many cups of coffee Borders or Starbucks will sell? They've done a study on it! Do you want to know where the next Home Depot, Dunkin' Donuts, or Wawa store will be? We already know because they've studied that too. There is no such thing as "surprise" anymore. Just ask and you can know any bit of information your whim might prompt you to ask. The technology of today has removed every element of surprise. There is no mystique. Computers and cell phones and security cameras track everything. Movement and even thoughts are known. Don't think this isn't true. Every aspect of human life from the cradle to the grave has been studied and formulated. And this information is being put to use. Nothing is left to our imagination anymore - even movies and TV have become painfully graphic. And daily language reflects the graphic nature of our on times. The "F" word is like the word "the" now and vulgarity is considered "slang" or "shop talk."
As we enter the new millennium, the human race is also its own God. Test tube babies, genetic screening of "defective" embryos, and fertility clinics are not so rare. You can shop for and bid on "model" eggs on the Internet. Babies may very soon be "tailored" to suit the desires of the "parents" by tampering with genes to choose the sex and other more specific physical characteristics. Anthropologists and scientists visiting remote tribes in danger of extinction are taking gene and DNA samples. Is this a type of human "mining"? And don't forget about birth control and abortion (two very important starting points in our playing God).
Science tells us what diseases we are supposed to get and when we can expect to get them, how long we can expect to live, and how we should act/react to things in our lives. Feeding tubes, medicines and life support can keep us "alive" until either we are ready to choose to die or someone decides for us. Tired of living? Go ahead and make an appointment with a suicide doctor - those services of Doctor Death are your right!
Children no longer have to learn history or geography. Why clutter their minds with useless and trite information? Maps and places and dates and historical facts are easily available on the Internet. This will give our children more time for more constructive cluttering of their minds. They need to market themselves with potent resumes to sell themselves. And they need to arm themselves better with isolation and alienation to be more acceptable to their peers. They need to be more generic and homogenous. We want them to feel free to be "themselves" now, don't we?
We don't travel anymore. You can read about it on the Internet and see it on TV. What difference does it make anyway, when you can watch cable television just as comfortably in your own home as you could in Pago Pago or Europe or someplace. We don't visit each other's homes anymore. It is easier to call on the phone and get an answering machine and leave a message that won't be returned. We don't write "hard copy" letters or cards anymore because it is easier to send e-mail or e-cards. With computers and all the choices on voice mail, you never have to have human contact again if you don't want to.
Everything is always available 24 hours a day. There is nothing we cannot get when we want it. We no longer have to wait for things to be available or in season because the world is smaller and we can have it all, all year round and all day long. There is no such thing as "too much of a good thing" anymore. Just have it imported and order it. Use your credit card.
We have monolithic housing and strip mall after strip mall. We have millions of movie theaters in this country that can show two dozen movies and have food courts and entertainment other than movie watching. We have the same things in the North and South, East and West. Cities and rural areas are more alike. Politicians are sounding more and more alike. They are almost created by the media these days. They are increasingly generic and they are constantly consulting their advisors who refer to demographics, polls and "experts."
In the late 20th century we decided to expel morality. We were not disgraced by an immoral and lying President here in our United States. We re-elected him to a second term because it would not have been in our best interest to impeach him. The media grew tired and bored of the "attacks" on the President's character! Those who attacked him were attacked. And now he leads us into the new millennium. How fitting for us!
In the late 20th century even the weather is "dull" and we no longer put away seasonal clothes because we wear them all year round now. Global warming due to the depletion of the ozone layer is no longer a shocking theory, but a fact of our lives and we have even become comfortable with that. It no longer scares us that temperatures are globally warmer and that the polar caps are thawing and that the "greenhouse effect" is real! The thermostat on our world has been raised.
It would not be surprising if we colonized the Moon or Mars as scientists describe. We are not very shocked that some scientists have suggested that we launch gigantic "mirrors" into orbit around our Earth to reflect the Sun and turn night into day. We would not be surprised at all by the installation of giant domes over our cities to control the temperatures and protect human life. Everything we thought of as futuristic and "other worldly" is either already true or a very strong possibility. As I said, we are numbed to everything. Are we oblivious too? We are living in the Future.
What can we say about man's entry into the new millennium? I babbled on instead of saying anything profound. Perhaps it is wrong for me to try to say anything about our being alive here into the new millennium. Perhaps that is for some future generation to do on our behalf. Or maybe our epitaph will be written sometime in another Future - when the next inhabitants of our planet are fully in control. They may once again have souls and working minds and may even become sentimental. They may wish to write about their "dinosaurs" - US!