Was it only a decade ago that a blackberry was a mere summer fruit? That green was, well, a colour, 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 a 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?
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: From acupuncture to herbal supplements to alternative ways of treating cancer, alternative medicine became more mainstream.
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 (want your car to give you directions to Mom’s house in Chinese, or by a Frenchwoman named Virginie? There was an app for that.)
AGING: Nobody seemed to look their age anymore: Clothes for 50-year-old women started looking more like clothes for 18-year-olds, tweens looked more like teens, long hair was popular for all ages, and in many ways women’s fashion seemed to morph into one single age group.
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 smartphone version is now used by more than 28 million people — and it’s Canadian!
BOOK CLUBS: Thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey, the decade saw not only a profusion in book discussion clubs but a growing reliance on them by publishers.
CABLE: Cable 24-hour news made the evening network news seem quaint, cable dramas reaped Emmys … and at decade’s end, even Oprah moved to cable.
CAMERAS: Remember those trips to get film developed? Nope? Even your grandmother has a digital camera, and she’s probably emailing you photos right now.
CELEBRITY CULTURE: Celebrity magazines fed a growing obsession with celebrities and the minutiae of their lives.
CELLPHONES: Cellphones are now used by more than 85 per cent of the U.S. population and for some have replaced land lines entirely.
CHEFS: Chefs are hot! The Food Network, whose viewership tripled this decade, reeled in viewers with high-voltage personalities like Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse and Giada De Laurentis. Meryl Streep starred in a cinematic pean to the late Julia Child.
CONNECTIVITY: As in, we’re all expected to be connected, wirelessly, all the time.
COUGARS: A TV series called Cougar Town focuses on a phenomenon that gained its name this decade: women dating younger men.
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.
DANCING: Dancing never went out of style, but this decade saw the huge popularity of dancing contests like 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 there’s no reason to know anymore what channel your program is on, and what time.
EMBARRASSMENT ENTERTAINMENT: Embarrassment has always been part of comedy — you need only think of Don Rickles — but this is the decade of cringe-worthy Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ricky Gervais, and of course Sacha Baron Cohen, who as Borat and Bruno shamed perhaps an entire country.
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.
FAT: This was the decade that fat became the enemy of the state. New York City banned trans fats, and Alabama — second in national obesity rankings — introduced a tax on overweight state workers.
FOODIE: It’s the decade when we all developed gourmet palates. Even a burger became a gourmet item — as in Daniel Bouloud’s truffle burger, stuffed with foie gras and short ribs.
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.
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 — but you’d better type in your location carefully: One couple made a 650-km mistake this year by typing “Carpi” rather than “Capri.”
HELICOPTER PARENTING: 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 due.
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.
LIFE COACHES: In the aughts, there’s a coach for everything! So why not life itself?
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 High School Musical — three movies and counting — that brought back the musical magic.
ORGANIC: People 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.
PREGNANCY: If you’ve got it, flaunt it: That was the new ethos of the pregnancy experience, with chic clothes that emphasized the bulging belly and endless coverage of celebrity pregnancies.
REALITY TV: As a nation, we became addicted to reality TV, from the feuding Gosselins of Jon&Kate Plus 8 to American Idol. But the Heenes of Balloon Boy fame and the Salahis of gatecrashing fame give reality TV unwanted attention.
RECESSION CHIC: Fashion skewed to more severe styles — and much black — as so-called “recession chic” took hold in the latter part of the decade.
RETRO CHIC: Once you forget the smoking, the racism, the sexism and the homophobia, the early ’60s depicted by the AMC series Mad Men sure looked good.
SEXTING: Combine texting with a cellphone’s camera function and you get this parental nightmare.
STARBUCKS: It’s a cliche 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.
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.
TEXTING: R u still rding this sty? Hope u r. Get used to it: Email is so ’00s.
TV SCREENS: Television screens became huge making some ordinary living rooms and dens the equivalent of big-studio screening rooms. Meanwhile, people were watching movies on their tiny iPods.
TWEEN CULTURE: Tweens, especially girls, became an economic force, 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 (see above) 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 non-gaming masses.
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: By the end of the decade, even Grandma could do downward-facing dogs on her Wii Fit.
YOUTUBE: 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.