The release of Kid A?
Or perhaps one of the two bouts of madness I suffered not long afterwards (I don’t blame Radiohead).
But there’s no point in being personal about these things.
It’s a huge question. And one that will doubtless lead to exposure of my western WASC roots.
I guess the two obvious (US-centric) answers, depending on your optimism or pessimism, are the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 (I hate that it’s just referred to as ‘september 11’ or ‘9/11’. It seems odd to blame the date or the numbers), or the election/inauguration of Barack Obama.
I remember both events very distinctly.
For the election, I remember first using twitter properly. Throwing thoughts and exchanging information with hundreds of people at breakneck speeds. Even if we were mostly just taking the piss of the computer graphics on the BBC election special.
The emotional content was different. Hope is a very real sense, but often a bit of a liar. I had a niggling fear that Obama had been so vague in his promise of change, that he had provided a blank slate for America to project it’s desires onto. I worried that as soon as he started actually doing things, he would lose support. And I worried more that he wasn’t the ideal I’d projected on to him at heart.
We’ve still got to see how that pans out.
For the terrorist attacks, I first heard about it from a friend’s parents, and didn’t register the seriousness of a plane hitting the WTC until I got home and saw the images.
An evening on MSN with my school friends. Reading Bush’s address and picking through it with eyes watering with fear. The next day, a history lesson was totally given over to genuine fear of nuclear war.
I found a new empathy for those living through the cold war that morning. Though I still kicked myself when it turned out fear for myself was misguided.
I should’ve feared for the others.
The Iraq war killed somewhere between 94,902 and 601,027 people, depending on who you listen to. One figure indicates over a million. It’s still killing people today.
I find it near impossible to type those numbers. Copy and paste is required. Statistics are just an additional layer of brutality. A cruel reduction.
Remember Herbert’s piece. Where a beep of a baby’s heart monitor equals a hundred deaths in Iraq. Listen again.
The Boxing day Tsunami of 2004 killed 230,000 people. That was something we couldn’t stop (though we could’ve responded quicker perhaps). Either half as many or nearly three times as many were killed by our hands in Iraq.
I’m going to turn away from tragedy. I’m running out of words.
We mapped the human genome this year. This could potentially be the most important event in human history.
We also landed some robots on mars. Which is pretty cool. If a little sad.
I hope that some scientific breakthrough, and not our violence, is what that last decade will be remembered for.