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Today is my 24th birthday.
I told Susie (my wife) the other day that officially, as of this year, I’m one of those old people who gripes, “It’s just another year.” Getting older is no longer fun. After turning 21, all my birthday does is remind me I’m one year farther along in life.
I promise I’m not that depressing ALL the time.
I suppose it’s not my 34th, so there’s that. Sorry to my
older mature friends.
Last year, on my personal blog, I offered 23 words of wisdom from my 23 years of life.
This year, I thought it would be fun to look back at the last 24 years and pick out some of the most notable events and share a bit about their significance, and a bit about how some of them may have had an impact on me. This is not a perfect list, so don’t critique it. I tried to pick some world events, cultural moments, tech advances, and sports milestones.
Feel free to share what notable events you would include in the comments below.
1990: World Wide Web invented
I consider an honor to be born in the same year as the World Wide Web. Tech nerds may be quick to correct, saying the Internet existed in some remote forms in the 70s and 80s, but Tim Berners-Lee created the first webpage in 1990.
The Internet became a household staple around 1995 when Windows 95 came out and AOL began reminding us we had mail.
I wonder if the earliest Internet users trolled each other like we do today.
1991: Collapse of the USSR
To be honest, this really didn’t mean anything to me at the time. I was too busy learning to walk and not make a mess of myself.
Turns out the USSR was having the same problems around the same time, and it collapsed, ending the Cold War shortly thereafter.
1992: Rodney King Riots
To be honest, I knew virtually nothing about the Rodney King riots until Michael Brown and Ferguson happened just a few months ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the Rodney King Riots read the Wikipedia page. If you don’t feel like clicking somewhere else, just imagine the Ferguson situation on a much much greater scale.
1993: Waco Siege
Like the collapse of the USSR and the Rodney King Riots, I was far too young in 1993 to know what was going on with the Waco siege, but I do remember learning a lot about this event in a high school class called “Good versus Evil” in which we watched documentaries every day about historic events. Yep. That was the entire class.
David Koresh was messed up, as was most (all?) of his crew. I remember when we watched the documentary in class I thought it was a little ridiculous that the authorities had to kill so many people, but reading about it now I realize the gravity of what was going on.
1994: OJ Bronco chase
Thankfully, this is the last one of the 24 I do not remember clearly. I don’t remember this at all, but I can imagine how crazy it would be today if an NFL star would commit a crime and….
Well the chase was shocking to be sure. That had to be nuts.
1995: Toy Story in Theaters
The first Pixar movie, and a movie that defined the childhood of many 90s kids. The story of Woody and Buzz corralled the attention of kids who know what it’s like to be outdone by the cool kid, and our parents could resonate with moving trying to convince their kids to get rid of toys in the process.
Steve Jobs, via his role at Pixar, began influencing us long before any of us knew what was to come.
1996: The release of the Nintendo 64
This might be a bit of a niché event, but as a six-year-old, this was revolutionary. I grew up playing with my cousins’ Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, but when the Nintendo 64 came out, this is how most kids my age reacted:
Also, Goldeneye 007 revolutionized console gaming.
1997: Harry Potter & Philosopher’s Stone published in UK
You probably know this book as Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone which released in the U.S. in 1998, but the original U.K. version released in 1997.
Without a doubt, the Harry Potter books shaped our childhood. I admit, I’ve only read through Goblet of Fire and have not seen a single one of the movies, but I plan on starting at the beginning and reading all of them.
Which book is your favorite? I loved Goblet.
1998: Major League Baseball Home Run Chase
This event probably means the most to me out of all of these. I have been a Chicago Cubs fan all of my life, and watching Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire have a home run duel throughout much of the ’98 season was a blast. I was in Little League, and I remember being glued to the TV throughout that summer.
Here was Sosa in the glory days:
But now, Sosa looks like this, bless his heart:
Sorry if you can’t sleep now.
Outside of the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, this was my biggest baseball moment of my life.
1999: Columbine High School
When I got home from school this day, I remember sitting down in front of the TV and refusing to go to Y-Ball basketball practice because I was so enthralled by the coverage of this horrific event.
I remember wondering if I was going to turn out like those guys because I played video games too, as that was a big factor in their actions. My dad has served on some local school safety commissions in the past, and talking with him about how this event changed the way crisis management is done is schools is fascinating to me.
2000: Bush v. Gore
Florida. Get your stuff together.
2001: September 11
There really isn’t much to say here, is there? I was getting ready to go to school (I was in 5th grade) and I thought it was all an accident until my mother assured me it wasn’t.
This is our JFK. Our Pearl Harbor.
2002: American Idol
Reality TV was really launched by Survivor in the 90s, but American Idol took reality to a whole new level. Today, American Idol has fallen by the wayside for shows like The Voice and Dancing with the Stars, it seems, but there was a point when if you weren’t watching American Idol, you were completely out of touch with water cooler and lunch table conversations.
2003: Fall of Baghdad
If September 11th was our Pearl Harbor, the War on Terror/Operation Iraqi Freedom has been our war. The Fall of Baghdad was an iconic moment in that war, though it would continue to drag on.
2004: Facebook Launches
This is huge. Myspace was big, but Facebook changed the game completely. I wasn’t on Facebook in 2004 because I wasn’t in college, but when Facebook was opened up to the broader public, Myspace effectively died and the social media revolution hit its stride.
Young people are leaving Facebook because their parents have taken it over with Candy Crush requests, but it’s still a dominant force in social media and will be as long as it owns Instagram.
2005: Hurricane Katrina
Katrina is, if I’m not forgetting something, the most devastating natural disaster to hit America in my lifetime. I had the opportunity to take two trips to Biloxi, Mississippi as a freshman in high school (one in the December following and one the summer following) and it was incredible to see the devastation and resolve of the community.
2006: Google Buys YouTube
Ok, full disclosure, if anyone has a better idea for 2006, I’m all for it. Outside of getting my license this year, it seems that nothing earth-shattering happened. Google bought YouTube, was a pretty big deal, but didn’t really change the experience at all except for giving Google one more foothold in its quest to take over the world.
2007: iPhone Released
Outside of the Internet, this has to be the biggest invention of the last 24 years, right? I’m surely forgetting some life-saving medical phenomenon that someone definitely point out, but I mean think about it. This device single-handedly KILLED (effectively) at least one company, KILLED one of its own products (the iPod), and revolutionized the way we communicate….and think of birds.
Also, with the new fingerprint scanner and health emphasis, Apple is in the market to compete with Google for control of the world.
2008: Barack Obama Elected President
Regardless of your political affiliations, this is one of the most notable events in U.S. history, and I am thankful to have witnessed it in my lifetime. An African American being elected as the leader of our country is a milestone that, while awesome, took far too long. I can’t wait to see more minorities pursue the position, and I think we’ll be better off for it.
2009: Netflix Streaming Service Explodes
Netflix began its streaming service before 2009, but 2009 is when it really started to take off. It changed the way we watch TV, and made binge-watching a college pastime.
Whether you binge Breaking Bad, LOST, or something else, you’ve certainly watched Netflix at some point. I remember when Netflix was running ads on TV, thinking it was the biggest scam in the world before really knew what it was. CNN wasn’t hopeful back in 2006:
2010: LeBron James’ Decision
Never have I seen an entire city hate one person so much in the world of sports. LeBron James’ decision to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat superteam was not conducted in the wisest of ways. For the record, I supported James throughout, and I am happy to see him back in Cleveland again.
He’s the best athlete the NBA has ever seen. He could quit basketball right now and dominate TE in the NFL. Instead, he’ll just keep doing this to people:
2011: Japan Tsunami
This was a HUGE deal. The YouTube videos of this tragedy are stunning. The nuclear danger following this storm was one of the bigger storylines to come out of it. Devastation.
2012: Sandy Hook Shootings
I was hanging out in my family room on Christmas break from college, probably watching SportsCenter or something, and saw this come across Twitter. Columbine instantly came to mind, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about all of those poor families at Christmas just a few days later. Heartbreaking.
2013: Changing of the Popes
The Boston Marathon Bombing could easily be the biggest event of 2013 if something hadn’t happened that hasn’t happened for nearly SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS.
We’ve never had two popes alive at the same time, and this was a truly remarkable process.
2014: ISIS Ravages Middle East
You could make the argument for a number of stories to be the biggest this year, but I think it’s gotta be ISIS. The unequivocal rage and relentless violence had, until Ebola invaded, captivated us. I hope that, as we move forward, we can responsibly help in the effort to keep ISIS from any ideological or geographical ground.
That’s a pretty crappy way to end this fun blog post, so here’s a bulldog riding a motorcycle: