What did you do on Y2K?
We had our work Christmas party yesterday, 1999 was the theme. It became a fun and easy conversation starter to ask people the question above. What was Y2K for them? How was their evening? What did they do? I got a whole host of answers back. Some of my old co-workers were literal toddlers, so they had no stories to tell, just stories to make me feel old. Others went to house parties. Someone invited a bunch of friends over to drink and listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on repeat for the evening. Another wandered into his old high school with mates and drank a mickey. For most it was a massive disappointment. For some, it felt like the dawning of a new age. For me?
I was 12. I had this weird, voracious skin condition. I don’t know what it was, but it grew like a weed and spread like wildfire. I had to rub this lotion all over myself a few times per day. I think it was itchy too, so that was frustrating. It wasn’t infectious, thank Christ, so I could have a friend over. I think my parents took pity on me and let us rent an N64 from the video store (egads, that sentence is a time capsule). My friend and I played Super Smash Bros until late in the evening. I got to drink a can of energy drink, and we went down to the Auckland Viaduct to watch fireworks. They got rained out, and it all felt anticlimactic.
Y2K is seen as a joke now. It’s obvious to see why. We all thought that everything would end because computers wouldn’t know how to count the new year. Or was it some type of virus? The Y2K bug? The banks were gonna crumble and the world would fall into disrepair. Chaos would reign, people would loot, and we’d end up in some post-apocalyptic debacle. I was 12. I didn’t know any better, so I sort of assumed this was all within the realm of possibility. I don’t know that we did much in the way of prep. I think my parents bought a couple of large water jugs or something, but that was it. I got the feeling that for adults, it was mostly laughable. The notion that everything would end because of computers. They’d lived for decades, I’m sure it wasn’t their first foray into widespread nonsense.
I think that’s why, when December 21st 2012 rolled around, we all had a laugh. I made an End of the World playlist with most any apocalyptic song I could find. I think I even threw in “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” since it was in the Armageddon soundtrack. Friends came over to my parents’ place and we looked out over the harbour, drinking. If we were gonna see things end, we had the perfect view.
It’s weird that growing up, we had this background notion that Armageddon was coming. I wonder if that’s why there’s been so much post-apocalyptic material over the past decade. This stuff has a way of worming into your subconscious. I mean, of course a bunch of tent pole movies and shows catapulted the idea into the public consciousness. The Walking Dead, Fury Road, 28 Days Later. They all captured this zeitgeist of catastrophe. Arguably now, the world is in worse shape than it was ten years ago. Climate change and incredible wealth inequalities are on the tips of our tongues. Brash demagogues have soared into positions of influence and power. We’ve all lost count of how many mass shootings America has had in the past year.
Holy shit. I just went down a wiki rabbit hole. There have been 370 mass shootings in America in 2019 (as of today). That’s 1.22 mass shootings per day. It’s gotten to the point where we just tune them out. I looked at this number and thought oh well, that’s really sad. But that’s how things have always been there. I checked 2018, 321 mass shootings. Yep. I guess it’s always been that way in the USA. IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. In 2009 there were six. In 2008 there were five. In 2007 there were five. In 2006 there were four. In 2005 there were three. In 2004 there were three. In 2003 there were three. In 2002 there were three. In 2001 there were two. In 2000 there were three. Three hundred and seventy mass shootings is NOT NORMAL. How have we gotten to a point where we’ve normalised this figure in our heads? I can’t be the only one.
That is stone cold sobering. E fucking Gads.