What Defines a Decade?

I was born in 1986, so my formative youth took place in the 90’s. I’ll be forever grateful for this. I have been listening to a lot of synth-wave lately. It gives me such an addictive rush of nostalgia. The sound of the synths and primitive electric drum kits brings me back to riding my bike with my brothers and neighbor kids through the small neighborhood I grew up in. It was in the countryside of Ohio. Surrounded by farmland and forests. There wasn’t much danger other than the creepy houses on the edge of town… and spiders. We had the world to ourselves. Without the internet, mobile devices, or much to watch on TV, we had to go outside and use our imaginations. We made pretend guns out of recycled material. We built ramps for our bikes that we persistently got injured on. We built forts and treehouses. We played sports. Blew things up with firecrackers. Camped in our backyard and looked at Playboy magazines. We swam in pools and ponds in the summer. We built igloos and threw snowballs in winter. We ate a lot of cereal and pizza. One of my favorite memories was riding down to the video store where we could rent movies on VHS. This wasn’t a Blockbuster (RIP). This was our local Mom-and-Pop video/pizza parlor. You got a movie AND PIZZA! We spent what seemed like an hour, at times, walking down the isles studying the cover art of the VHS cases. They only had the cases on display and would fill them with VHS tape once you made your selection. One time I remember remarking that a large percentage of the cover art was people holding guns. I wonder what that statistic is today? We didn’t have the internet at our fingertips. We couldn’t see what the RottenTomatoe rating was or read much about the film other than what was on the back. It was exciting to get home, turn off all the lights, claim my spot on the couch or floor, dig into the pizza, and discover the cinematic gem we had somewhat randomly selected. The films were filled with concepts and sounds that are so beautifully portrayed in today’s Synthwave Music Genre. This music brings me to a happy place in my mind and inspires me to express myself from such a place. The 90’s, man.

What defines a decade? Is it the culture? Is it specifically pop culture? Is it whatever war we are in? Is it the way that media expresses what’s happening in the world at that time? Sometimes I don’t feel articulate enough to express my ideas. Trying my best here. It’s like whatever is happening in the world at the time, politics, technology, and the economy, is absorbed by artists, filmmakers, and musicians, and regurgitated through their unique perspectives using whatever tools that politics, technology, and the economy provide. Without art, society wouldn’t have a reflection. Without the hum-drum world of 9-to-5’s and politics and the economy, art MIGHT STILL  have something to reflect upon. So in a way, art may be the most important thing in the world. Just a thought. We can listen to a song from the 1990s and recognize its time and place in the history of our civilization. The same goes for a song from the 1920s and so on. But what about music today, in the 2020s? Does it have a distinct sound? I honestly can’t tell. Maybe it’s because we are still in it. Even so, its’ 2023 and when I think of the 2010-2020 era, there isn’t a style of music or art that really comes to mind. Pixar and iPhones maybe? Maybe this new millennium is a new phase in human expression. Everything’s been done. Everything is a combination of a million other things. Everything that is most popular seems to be the laziest form of whatever medium it is in. All the most famous music is simple melodies and shallow lyrics where the singer can’t even play an instrument and all the instruments are made on a computer. The most expensive art is a banana duct taped to a wall. Hell, even our politics have dumbed down to a blatant display of corrupt hierarchy. Our wars are clearly in the personal interest of the elite.  Everyone is just kind of shuffling around and going along with it. Putting up with a world that feels like it’s running solely off of mediocrity.

But I know that isn’t entirely true. Within the past 10 years, I have seen art that has blown my mind and changed my perspective. I’ve listened to music that I’ve grown obsessed with and has filled me with the light of the sun. I’ve met people who have a light around them and bust back at the hum-drum with every breath. Humanity is still very much human. If humans are “made in God’s image” we will always find a way to express ourselves in the most divine ways. Even if those ways are not made popular by the mainstream media.

I think it’s safe to say that technology defines a decade. It’s what provides us with the tools to do all the other things. We have entered the age of robots, rockets to Mars, the disclosure of extraterrestrials, and artificial intelligence. Haha! F**k. This decade is shaping up to be very interesting. I hope AI robots will be able to experience nostalgia in the year 2050. Maybe nostalgia belongs solely to humans. 

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