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CHANGING TIMES



Published: Mon, December 28, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Jocelyn Noveck

a look back

There were, of course, huge political and social upheavals that roiled our world.

Was it only a decade ago that a blackberry was a mere summer fruit?

That green was, well, a color, and reality TV was that one show sandwiched between music videos on MTV?

There were, of course, huge political and social upheavals that roiled our world in the past decade.

But there were also the gradual lifestyle changes that you don’t always notice when they’re happening — kind of like watching a child grow older.

Here’s an alphabetical look at things that changed our lives since the beginning of the millennium:

AIRPORTS

Remember when you didn’t have to take your shoes off before getting on a plane? Remember when you could bring a bottled drink on board? Terrorism changed all that.

APPS

There’s an app for that! The phrase comes from Apple iPhone advertising, but could apply to the entire decade’s gadget explosion, from laptops to GPS systems.

BLOG

I blog, you blog, he blogs ... How did we spend our time before blogging? There are more than 100 million of these Web logs out there in cyberspace.

BLACKBERRIES

Considered essential by corporate CEOs and moms planning playdates. Introduced in 2002, the smart-phone version is now used by more than 28 million people, according to its maker, Research In Motion Ltd.

CABLE

Cable 24-hour news made the evening network news seem quaint, cable dramas reaped Emmys ... and at decade’s end, even Oprah was making the move to cable.

CAMERAS

Remember those trips to get film developed? Nope? Even your grandmother has a digital camera, and she’s probably e-mailing you photos right now or uploading them to a photo-sharing site.

CELL PHONES

Cell phones are now used by more than 85 percent of the U.S. population and for some have replaced land lines entirely. On the downside, they’ve made cheating on a spouse more difficult — just ask Tiger Woods.

CONNECTIVITY

As in, we’re all expected to be connected, wirelessly, all the time. Boss e-mails you on a Sunday? Better answer, unless you’re off in Antarctica — you have no excuse.

CROCS

Those ubiquitous plastic clogs debuted in 2002 and became the shoes you loved to hate. Kids love ’em, but there are Web groups dedicated to their destruction. Not to be deterred: first lady Michelle Obama, who wore them on vacation in 2009.

DANCING

Dancing never went out of style, but this decade saw the huge popularity of dancing contests such as “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars.”

DATING

Dating was transformed like everything else by Internet sites, rendering other ways of meeting people obsolete. And it wasn’t just the territory of the relatively young: Seniors found love online, too.

DVRs

Suddenly, DVR-ing is a verb, and what it means is this: There’s no reason to know anymore what channel your program is on, and what time.

FACEBOOK

Can you believe this social networking site was once limited only to Harvard students? Now it’s a time-sucking obsession for more than 300 million users globally and a whole new form of social etiquette: Who to friend on Facebook?

GOING GREEN

From the kind of light bulbs we use to the kind of shopping bags we carry to the cars we drive, “going green” took hold this decade. Now, it’s not strange to hear a schoolkid tell a parent to use a cloth grocery bag.

GOOGLE

This was the decade that Google became a part of our brain function. You know that guy who was in that movie — when was it? Just Google it.

GPS

We can’t get lost anymore — or at least it’s pretty hard, with the ubiquitous GPS systems. But you’d better type in your location carefully: One couple made a 400-mile mistake this year by typing “Carpi” rather than “Capri.”

HELICOPTER PARENTING

Translation: Helicopters hover, and so do many parents. After years of obsessive attention to safety and achievement of the youngest children, some said a backlash was under way.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

An explosion in Internet use led to an overload of information about practically everything. It’s at our fingertips, but is it accurate? Some call it part of a larger phenomenon, namely ...

INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Otherwise known as being able to get anything you want within an instant. Often referred to as a theme of the decade.

IPODS

An icon of the digital age, it’s hard to believe this portable media player was first launched in 2001. Six years later, the 100 millionth iPod was sold.

MUSICALS

They’ve been around forever, but this decade, musicals came back to film, starting with “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago.” But for kids, it was Disney’s extremely successful “High School Musical” franchise — three movies and counting — that brought back the musical magic.

NETFLIX

The DVD-by-mail service, established in 1997, announced its two-billionth DVD delivery this year. For many, those discs on top of the TV are just one more thing to procrastinate over.

ORGANIC

Americans rushed to fill their grocery carts with organic food, making it big business — now a $21 billion industry, up from $3.6 billion in 1997. At decade’s end, Michelle Obama planted the first White House organic vegetable garden.

REALITY TV

As a nation, we became addicted to reality TV, from the feuding Gosselins of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” to “American Idol” to “Project Runway.” At decade’s end, the Heenes of Balloon Boy fame and the Salahis of gatecrashing fame give reality TV some unwanted attention.

SEXTING

Combine texting with a cell phone’s camera function and you get this parental nightmare. A survey from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 15 percent of teens ages 12-17 with a cell phone had received sexually suggestive images or videos.

STARBUCKS

It’s a clich that there’s one on every block, but sometimes it seemed like it — and millions now consider it normal to spend $4 or so on a coffee drink in the morning, perhaps a venti half-caf half-decaf vanilla latte with an extra shot.

TATTOOS

It started innocently enough — maybe a butterfly on the shoulder or a tribal symbol on the bicep. A few characters from the Chinese alphabet later, it seemed any hipster who really meant it had a full sleeve of tattoos. The trend extended to middle-aged moms and even tween idol Miley Cyrus.

TEXTING

R u still rding this sty? Hope u r. This is the decade we start communicating in the shorthand of text messages. Get used to it: E-mail is so ’00s.

TV SCREENS

Television screens became bigger and flatter, making some ordinary living rooms and dens the equivalent of big-studio screening rooms. At the same time, though, people were watching movies and videos on the tiniest screens imaginable — on their iPods other mobile devices.

TWEEN CULTURE

Tweens, especially girls, became an economic force to be reckoned with, buying everything from clothes to electronic devices to music to concert tickets.

TWITTER

The new social network introduced tweets, retweets, follows and trending topics — as long as it fit in 140 characters.

UGGS

Not since the Croc has functional footwear created such a frenzy. The fur-lined snowboots were everywhere, no matter the climate. Los Angelenos insisted on wearing them with shorts.

WII

In a sea of ever-more-sophisticated video games, this simple console became the decade’s breakout hit by appealing to the nongaming masses. Wiis became a center of family gaming, home fitness and even senior socializing.

WIKIPEDIA

A boon to lazy students everywhere, the open-source encyclopedia used the masses to police its entries and keep them (mostly) (sometimes) accurate.

YOGA

Madonna, Gwyneth and other bendy celebrities brought the eastern practice mainstream. By the end of the decade, even Grandma could do downward-facing dogs on her Wii Fit.

YOUTUBE

Let’s end this list and go kill some time by watching ... YouTube videos! The video-sharing site was born in 2005. Political candidates in 2008 even had their on YouTube channels. The most popular video yet: “Charlie Bit My Finger,” in which baby Charlie bites the finger of his brother Harry.


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