Another decade has passed quickly and here we are on the threshold of yet another. For those of us “of a certain age,” it’s kind of mind-blowing that the ’20s are here again, and that the decade of “the Roaring ’20s” is already a century gone by. My grandmother told me stories of her days as a Flapper who danced the Charleston. It’s already 100 years since Prohibition and Bonnie and Clyde and all that. Wonder what the 2020s will one day be famous for?
For my own part, I’m glad to be getting back to a decade that has a name and an identity. Anybody besides me notice that the past two decades have been nameless? I mean, I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s and those decades were known by those names, as were the ’80s and ’90s that followed.
I remember asking people in the late 90s, as the Y2K scare loomed, what will we call the next decade? The ’00s??? How about the 2000s???? But notice that nobody ever called that decade anything at all. And so the first decade of the 21st century still remains nameless to this day. Nobody really talks about it. Same with the current decade now ending. The ’10s??? The Teens??? Nobody says either of those either.
The first decade of the 20th century was sometimes called “the Oughts,” as in, “Why sonny, I bought my first Model T back in ‘Ought-Nine.” But that’s not how people talk today. The current decade is not properly “the Teens” either, due the idiosyncasies of the English language. Ten is not a “teen” and neither are eleven and twelve. So the decade of the Teens would be a third over before you ever got to thirteen.
If something has a name, it has an identity. When someone says “the ’60s” it conjures up images of hippies and Moon landings. “The 70s” evokes disco and double-digit inflation, and “the ’80s” connotes MTV and video arcades. These decades were always mentioned by name during their times and were the subject of daily conversation by everyone. But not so since 2000. The nameless decades of the ’00s and the ’10s have no such identities, though certainly enough notable and iconic events have happened in those decades to distinguish them.
An entire generation has come of age growing up in these nameless, faceless, unidentified decades. So these young people might be in for a surprise when the TV media and the average people on the street will all of a sudden be talking about “the ’20s” all day, every day, just like we all did back in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Thus, the sequence of named decades is about to resume again, and will likely continue until the year 2100.