What does it mean to be have been born in 2000? In a video that went viral earlier this month, Allison Louie-Garcia interviews 9-year-olds who can't hum a Britney Spears song and learned about 9/11 from a library book.
At a recent family function, I showed my eight-and-a-half-year-old niece, Dandara, my new book, Obsolete. Specifically, I showed her the book's James Gulliver Hancock-rendered illustrations of various objects that are becoming obsolete. I asked her what she thought each one was. She guessed that the cassette tape was some kind of film dispenser; a can of 35mm film was, in her view, clearly meant for storing small food products. She correctly guessed that Wite-Out was a kind of paint, but she couldn't figure out what one would use it for. This was a really entertaining game... for me. Unfortunately, she quickly grew tired of me laughing at her.
Allison Louie-Garcia took this idea one step further by interviewing a handful of kids born in 2000. The resulting video serves as a reminder of how much has changed in the last decade. The children discuss their first MP3 players, recall using computers at age two, and marvel over the sounds of a dial-up modem. Napster, one kid guesses, must've had something to do with naps. And Britney Spears lives in their memory as "the girl who cut her hair bald."
Louie-Garcia also asks the children about war and terrorism. My nephew Miles was three on 9/11/01 and I recall, in the weeks after the attack, walking in Manhattan's Union Square talking to him about the American flags that were omnipresent. With his little hand reaching up to mine, we walked around and made a game of counting them. It was my little way of trying to brand the memory on him—a recollection he would one day be able to share with his own grandchildren if they ever asked if he remembered what it was like to be in New York during that fateful time.
A few months later, one of my editors at work told me to not reference 9/11 in anything I wrote. "People are already over it," she said. I was nonplussed. But, this video reminds me that, in the end, editors are always right. What do the kids of 2000 see as the most important event in their lifetimes? Michael Jackson's death. [Vimeo via Diary of a Madman and pretty much everywhere else on the internet]
Anna Jane Grossman will be with us for the next few weeks, documenting life in the early aughts, and how it differs from today. The author of Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By (Abrams Image) and the creator of ObsoleteTheBook.com, she has also written for dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Salon.com, the Associated Press, Elle and the Huffington Post, as well as Gizmodo. She has a complicated relationship with technology, but she does have an eponymous website: AnnaJane.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaJane.