- The dawn of the new millennium was just under 20 years ago.
- The world we live in now is completely different from then.
- Here are all the biggest changes.
As we get closer and closer to 2019, it’s hard not to look back on the years past and reflect on how different everything is now. Twenty years ago, in 1999, the world was a completely different place than it is today.
We were on the dawn of a new millennium, stressed and unsure about what Y2K would bring. Cell phones were only just beginning to become popular, social media was not yet the number one topic of conversation, Britney Spears had just dropped her first album, and newspapers and magazines were still going strong.
Although 1999 might not feel that far away sometimes, when you think about how much the world has changed since then, it feels like it happened a million years ago. Here are a few more examples of how different our lives are today:
You’re now on the internet more than you aren’t on the internet, instead of just using it for school or work.
In 1999, the internet was still shiny and new, something that seemed to be full of exciting possibilities… we just didn’t know how to use them yet. Most of the websites we know and love today weren’t even a thought in 1999 – even Google had just become a thing about a year earlier.
Those who went online who were using the internet for school or work, not for entertainment or connecting with people. Today, the internet is obviously a huge part of our lives, and it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t. More than 4 billion people have access to the internet.
Today, you can talk on the phone and use the internet at the same time.
In fact, you can talk on the phone, watch TV, scroll through social media on your iPad, and read a different website on your computer if you really wanted to. Back in 1999, dial-up was necessary to connect to the internet, and so we all found ourselves getting kicked off the phone if someone tried to get online, or waiting for our family members to end their conversations so we could log on.
You no longer have to worry about breathing in secondhand smoke when going out to eat.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that smoking bans in restaurants really went into effect. In 1999, you were still able to go into a restaurant or bar that reeked of smoke, which wasn’t a pleasant experience if you didn’t smoke. Some restaurants had smoking and non-smoking sections because even that wasn’t taken away until later on. Today, you don’t have that problem, as smoking indoors is banned pretty much everywhere.
You now get more excited about television than you do about movies.
The last few years have been full of some truly excellent television, whether it’s shows on cable TV or on streaming services. Everything is about TV right now, and there is no shortage of amazing shows to watch. There were plenty of good shows on in 1999 as well, of course (like “Sex and the City” and “The Simpsons”), but it was more about the movies than anything else.
Huge films like “Fight Club,” “The Matrix,” and “American Beauty” came out in 1999, and as New York magazine points out, “it was the best, most innovative year for American movies in recent memory.”
That’s a big change from the Golden Age of Television we’re currently in, although you’re much more likely to watch them on a computer or a computer hooked up to your TV than you were back then.
You no longer have to sit around hoping your Napster song download goes through.
Who can forget Napster? The file-sharing network was created in 1999, and it was then that everyone started illegally downloading music for free instead of buying CDs. The service came with its fair share of issues, though, from songs that took hours to download to ones that ended up being the completely wrong file.
Today, you don’t have to painstakingly download your music illegally, you can just listen to whatever you want on a streaming service like Spotify. It might not be free if you don’t want to listen to commercials, but it’s certainly more convenient.
You rent movies off Amazon Prime instead of heading to Blockbuster.
Back in 1999, Blockbuster was the place to be on the weekends. If you wanted to watch a specific movie or television show, you went to Blockbuster to hope it was on the shelves so you could rent it and watch it — and return it promptly, or pay a hefty late fee. Blockbuster locations started closing in the early 2000s, and today, there is only one left.
Now, if you want to watch something, you either find it on Netflix or you rent it off of your TV’s On Demand service or Amazon Prime, from the comfort of your own bed.
Eating at a restaurant has become a social experience.
Not only do Americans now spend more on bars and restaurants than they do on grocery shopping, according to Bon Appetit, but in 2018, food has been just about presentation as it is about taste.
In 1999, you have grabbed a dinner on date night as a special treat, today people are consuming over-the-top, colourful internet food so they can snap a picture as well as grab a bite.
You can no longer go on vacation and truly take a break from everything.
Back in 1999, cell phones were not so common that even toddlers owned them. In fact, even if you did have one, you didn’t get service everywhere you went, especially if you travelled somewhere new.
And since WIFI and tablets weren’t a thing either, you could go on vacation and actually be away from everything, with no ability to check your email or get text message updates from friends.
Today, you can’t do that unless you choose to go off the grid. And even then, there is likely still the urge to check your phone.
Many people see terrorist attacks a more of a looming threat today.
Of course, terrorism existed in 1999, and it was something people worried about – but it wasn’t yet in the back of their head as something to stress over during everyday life. It wasn’t until after the Twin Towers fell in New York due to the attacks on 9/11 (in 2001) that terrorism became a much more real threat for many.
In fact, according to Vox,peoples’ fears in the US have stayed elevated today after 9/11 to about the level they were just after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. They also pointed out that the likelihood of a terrorist attack is much smaller than say, the threat of a car accident.
It’s worth noting that while much of the world has seen an increase in terrorism, the rate of death from a terrorist attack has actually decreased as of 2017.
You probably also have a much bigger fear of mass shootings today than you did 20 years ago.
Again, mass shootings existed in 1999 in the US, but they weren’t talked about as often. The Columbine High School shooting happened in 1999, and although it wasn’t the first mass shooting or the first school shooting, it was a huge event.
Today, mass shootings are happening on a much more regular basis in the US. The days between mass shooting occurrences went from 200 days on average during the period of 1983 to 2011 to 64 days since 2011, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.
You now get updates from the president of the United States on Twitter.
Today, President Donald Trump often uses Twitter as a means of communication, something that was unheard of in 1999 – both because things were different, and because Twitter wasn’t invented yet. In 1999, you waited to hear what Bill Clinton had to say on television or in a newspaper.
You no longer have to memorise anyone’s phone numbers.
In 1999, cell phones were nowhere near as popular as they are today. If you wanted to keep track of someone’s number, you either wrote it down in an address book, or you memorized it so you could call them whenever you needed to. Think about it: do you know anyone’s number by heart anymore? Probably not.
You text instead of leaving voicemails.
Even if you did have a cell phone in 1999, you didn’t text people all the time. If you couldn’t get in touch with them, you left a voicemail on their answering machine. Coming home to find you had messages was kind of exciting. Today, noticing that you have a voicemail is usually just horribly annoying.
Everyone has a smartphone, and most people don’t even know what a Nokia is.
If you did have a cell phone in 1999, chances are good that it was a clunky Nokia. Nokia’s were used for making calls and playing the snake game, and that was it. iPhones didn’t come around until 2007.
You have to take your shoes off when you fly now.
Today, you know going into a flight that you’re going to have to remove your shoes when going through airport security. In 1999, you didn’t have to do that, because no one considered shoes to be a threat. That didn’t happen until the shoe bomber of 2001.
Online dating is the norm today.
Online dating was around in 1999 (Match.com was created in 1995), it just wasn’t something people admitted to taking part in. Back then, it was considered taboo, something people did only if they were desperate. Today, people embrace online dating apps and online dating has lost much of its stigma, according to Pew.
Today about 5% of Americans who are married or in a committed relationship say they met their partner online.
You have the option to watch television without commercials.
Another great thing about TV today? If you pay for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you can nix commercials completely. If you DVR something, you can simply fast forward through them. In 1999, you didn’t have that option, unless you wanted to attempt to record something on a VHS tape and then fast forward.
You now take photos on your cell phone instead of a film camera.
In 1999, disposable cameras were everywhere, and you didn’t go out for the night without one. People took photos, then waited days or weeks for the film to get developed before having the chance to see how they turned out. Today, you use your cell phone instead of a camera, and you see your pictures immediately.
You use Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.
The web browser of choice in 1999 was Internet Explorer. Today, it’s Google Chrome, and it’s a whole lot more advanced.
You make playlists instead of burning CDs.
If you wanted to listen to specific music in 1999, you made CDs full of the random songs you liked, then kept them stored in little plastic books. Today, you just put together a quick playlist on a streaming service and listen to it from your cell phone.
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