>The What Decade? On names and labels

>Let’s be clear: the next decade starts a year from now. But as long as people are seeking a moniker for years that began with the millennium, I might as well join in.

The aughts? No good. America suffered too much in this decade to allow it to be reduced to a synonym for nothing. The attacks of 9/11, the clueless leadership of G.W. Bush, two wars, the collapse of our economy — call it nothing? Not a chance.

The zeroes? The same. There are zeroes in the numbers 2001-2010, but those numbers do not describe the mood swings, political or financial, that made headlines and affected everyday people.

Changes defined these ten years more than any commonality. America can no longer feel invincible, thanks to Al-Qaeda’s actions in 2001. We’ve taken changes in airport security in stride, changes in mail security due to anthrax, and more. We’ve recognized a changing mission for our National Guard and Reserve units.

Changes in outlook are part of our recent past. We’re not reacting to 9/11 any more; we’re accustomed to the changes in our lives because of the attacks. Campuses, high school and college, practice new security drills due to the Columbine attack of 1999. That event, while not part of the current decade, defined a new term: “School Shooting” and defined a new set of safety procedures for all schools.

Another change is the soon-to-be-renewed Elementary and Secondary Education Act, often known as No Child Left Behind. This well-meaning but poorly written piece of legislation cost millions (billions?!) and left many children behind. In the years beyond 2001, School became synonymous with Tests rather than Learning, and those Tests carried an unreasonable amount of weight for all students and teachers.

Changes were both negative and positive. Wall Street fell, evoking fears of another Great Depression. Homelessness rose, unemployment became commonplace, and underemployment joined workers’ lexicon as well. American voters said “Enough, already!” and voted in a new administration, including the first African-American president of the United States and the first female Speaker of the House.

The biggest change, however, has been technological. Computers, after successfully weathering the dreaded Y2K, became no longer a luxury, but an everyday appliance. Cell phones. Text messages. MP3 players. Email – multiple emails. Smart phones! Blogs! Twitter! Plurk! To list and describe all of these changes would be an entire post or several posts, and by the time I’d write and post them, my words would be outdated or even obsolete, much like Brett Favre’s annual team status.

With that in mind (technology, not Favre), I suggest a name I ran across in the morning paper. Reflecting the numerical years and the rise in everyday technological changes, please consider:

Decade 2.0

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