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Dangerous men will meet in our streets

27 March 2013

When we were in Las Vegas last month, I mentioned to my friend Jeremy that I often feel like a time traveler from the year 1997. I like all of the technology we’ve got currently (my iPhone could make fools of all of the computers I had in the 90s put together), but culturally, I feel like my relevant period was from about 1996-1999. Once the millenium hit, I was instantly transformed into an old man chasing children off his lawn with a rake.

That’s not exactly accurate, of course. I’m 34, so I’m still relatively young, and in relatively good health. I still enjoy the occasional new music release, or get hooked on the same TV shows as everyone else (yeah, I watch Walking Dead, too). Culturally speaking, I do an OK job of maintaining some sort of relevance.

Sure, some of my out-of-placeness — the Germans might call it an unheimlich sort of feeling — stems from the fact that we’re probably all more comfortable, culturally, when we’re 18-21 years old. It’s part of the way America likes to work; young is great, but for every year you age above, say, 25, you start fading out like Marty McFly when it looked like his parents wouldn’t get together. Aging will make you feel like the world is getting stranger, less like the world you remember from your youth. But that’s only part of it.

Looking back on the late 90s from 15 years later, even I have to admit that it was a weird, disturbing time. We weren’t technically at war with anyone. The economy was in great shape. Google had an exclamation point. It was madness.

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But at least when I look at the late 90s, I understand them. I get a definite feeling of the social and cultural movements of the time. If I look at now… I can’t really think of anything that describes the 2010s. There are a lot of social movements that almost happen. There are a lot of cultural trends that almost catch, but they’re gone in a flash. And maybe that’s the cultural movement — faster.

So, OK. Maybe I do like your future-place after all.

So, if you had to define the cultural and social identity of today, what would you choose?

Please don’t say Beiber. It might be true, but come on — I just started liking this year.

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