I've always thought of 2007 as the end of an epoch, I really couldn't pinpoint why, other than that it was the year the iphone was first released, but it was just something I could feel in my bones at the time and looking back it really does mark the end of an era for American history.I'd argue that it was a better decade than 2010 but to be honest I'd split it, anything up to 2005 was ok, post 2007 the rot had started to set in. This is all from personal reflection so take with a grain of salt.
Point in case, the ass end of the 90s was fun, most people didn't have computers or internet and if you were smart or willing to learn you could interact with people only via things like BBS or some of the very primitive web browsers, (You used to be able to get an internet yellow pages, no joke.) Netscape was a god send, and around 97/98 is when things started to take off with faster modems 56k and more people getting PC's.
You also had access to a lot of stuff via piracy, that used to have to be manually traded like older computer games, and dare I say it the very primitive exchanges and hiding on the family computer of porn, or in my case the discovery of my older brothers folder. And then the P2P explosion with Kazaa, Napster, and I can't remember the other multitudes.
That said it was a happier time, the internet wasn't this over powerful thing that took up a majority of ones time, you had internet time mandated usually by phone usage and so connectivity 24/7 wasn't guaranteed. It was also at least for me a better time in regards to television.
The saying lesser choices makes a happier person was as true then as it was now, 3 channels which you knew what you wanted to watch made infinitely better viewing than the satellite TV upgrades that followed, it was around 2002 that conventional 90's TV started to die off and be replaced by reality TV shows, once 24/7 multi-channel TV became the norm this only brought in the decline on network television programming quality.
TLC used to actually be about documentaries and learning, history used to be about semi-decent war documentaries, etc.
By 2006 you started getting the introduction of rap style music into pop music, which was already flaccid at this point because of diminishing returns from shit like American Idol, everything was just generic from that point and got more generic. TV basically became generic too, for everyone one good TV show it would inspire clunky clones, like the original CSI and then hit a point where it just became boring because like House could only cure so many cases of Lupus, you could only murder someone so many ways.
By 2008 every asshole seemed to have an internet connection and Facebook was in its infancy and fun because it replaced a lot of the trepidation out of online social interactions. The info was actually genuinely useful too, like looking if people were dating beforehand, etc. You could use it successfully as your wingman in some cases.
That was also the time that I had started studying, and I was fortunate in the fact that my university wasn't overtly liberal but had a decent mix. That said my favorite instructors were both seniors faculty at the school and they'd lecture the class over things that were going to be incoming, I still remember the English professor openly speaking about the changes to academia which meant that speech laws were going to get restrictive. We all thought it was mad at the time, though privately I held her in high esteem and my biology teacher as well, because he didn't mince words either when it came to things like biology and race.
This was of course back when gay rights and gay marriage were still crusader issues and so trannies weren't on the horizon. If they passed, nobody said anything because no one cared, if they were a man in a dress it would invite derision, but honestly never once encountered a tranny or a furry who was brave enough to be open with that shit in public.
By 2010 twitter had been a new creation, and since I'd already grown disillusioned with the brigading that had started appearing on Facebook, where people weren't posting honest opinions anymore because anything right of centre was called out, by people who wouldn't have the balls to mention it to you IRL or people were just sharing the same old shit over and over again. No one was posting anything original either. At that point I kind of gave up on any meaningful social media interactions, something had changed and now it was more a source of negativity than enjoyment.
Smartphones were already a thing, and were going to become more of a thing as people converted over. I'd lived like a savage for two years without any cell phone or house phone. (Best two years of my life.) So it was a culture shock when suddenly everyone had one, and of course the better they got meant more access, more social media, more shit.
It's been downhill from there on in, I honestly believe that.
I always used to think of the internet as a sort of alternate reality, one that should stay separate from the real world, trying to blend the internet with reality has proven disastrous.You know I think you really hit on something here. I think internet access an thus constant access to social media and the news is what makes our current time suck so much. When the internet was confined to one room of your house it created this separation between your online identity and real life identity that made the internet feel more like this fun abstract space and that no longer exists. Now the internet is serious business and people literally kill themselves over getting bullied on Twitter because mean words online carry just as much weight as mean words in real life. The internet itself is not the problem, but the pervasiveness of it is. People just can't handle 24/7 access.
On a trip to Walt Disney World in 2015 I rode their bus line one night sitting right next to a dad and his toddler daughter while he held a phone in front of her face so she could watch a cartoon, I was pretty disturbed by that.The pervasiveness and addictive nature of social media is a recipe for disaster (sounds cheesy I know). I see parents give children or even babies smart devices to shut them up, when out somewhere like a restaurant. Imagine the mental and emotional damage upcoming generations will have to deal with, because of shit like this. Wouldn't be surprising if newborn babies started getting social media accounts made for them, like a modern day birth cert.