The NY Times asks what we should name this decade. I’m going to go with The Age of Illusions. It certainly matches the experience of those of us in the United States.
In the very first minute of the decade, we found out that the looming Y2K disaster wasn’t real. Then the dot-com bubble burst, proving that vast paper fortunes weren’t real. Most of us voted against GWB for president in 2000, but he took office anyway, showing that popular democracy isn’t real. The September 11 attacks seemed too horrible to be true, and we began a War on Terrorism with no real evidence that our target was involved in the attacks. But the real illusion turned out to be the hope that “nothing will ever be the same again” – we quickly returned to ironic humor and emotional distance.
The Web 2.0 bubble came and went without a meaningful public company being created. Massive investments in complex financial instruments that ultimately had no real basis for valuation led to a worldwide financial crisis. A nation that stands as the apotheosis of capitalism turned to massive government bailouts, ultimately saving at least one sector of the economy: big banking, whose leaders rewarded themselves handsomely for work they didn’t do.
Yep, the Age of Illusions it is. Naughty Aughties, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.