Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Happened to the Noughties?

I found myself tonight thinking of the decade we came out of four years ago, the one that began with Millennium celebrations, took in 9/11, and included Facebook and Harry Potter (although the first Potter book was published in 1997). It was hardly devoid of interesting occurences, so why are the noughties such a non-event? You rarely hear anyone even use the term, or refer to the decade.

Is the grouping of social history into decades just a stupid convention, anyway? I'm not sure that it is. It seems to have been around for a while. You read about the gay nineties and the roaring twenties. I have a poetry anthology called British Poets of the Thirties, and the poetry contained in it is very specific in character.

All my life I've had a particular fascination with the seventies, the decade of my birth. To me, every photo and song and book from the seventies, no matter how individual, seems to be pervaded by a very particular atmosphere (one I could describe at excruciating length, and almost certainly will, eventually). The eighties has this too. The nineties, not so much. The noughties, not at all.

And as for this decade, almost four and a half years in, I've barely heard anyone even refer to it. And I know for sure that the sixties and seventies were discussed while they were in progress. I remember reading a book of essays entitled The Seventies, published in that year.

Have decades gone out of fashion?

Has Western society run out of ideas?

Do these things only come into focus with the passage of time?


  1. I'm not really a professional on this stuff, but usually when people refer to a certain decade I think the mere mention invokes strong images of certain things that were happening in the decade that set it apart from other decades. Like the 60's is associated with hippies, and the 80's is associated with really strange music videos and fashions.

    I don't know. But it seems like a lot of stuff to remember to give importance to every decade. I think that there hasn't really been anything particularly interesting that happened in the 90's, 00's, or 10's. Maybe it's just harder to notice when living in the time, but I hear and see things about older decades and it all seems so unique, whereas now everything seems bland and not particularly original. Maybe the increase in world wide communication has made it too difficult for any one style to become dominant.

  2. Well, I'd never thought about the communications thing, but it could be a reason. I really hope the bland, characterless decades don't just keep coming on. Not that I'm too thrilled about having another sixties-- another seventies would be just fine! (I've even watched 'That Seventies Show' but I found it a disappointment.')