There’s been a lot of talk lately about things turning 20 this year. Hey, I’m as guilty as the next guy. This week it was all about Nirvana’s Nevermind turning 20. An important milestone for sure, but not nearly as important as the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. In fact, if you were to ask most people I can guarantee they recall nothing about the release of Nevermind, but can tell you exactly where they were when they heard about Cobain’s death, he was after all our generations John Lennon (I just gagged a little in my mouth, I don’t believe that now, didn’t believe it then and to put it bluntly don’t believe the hype.) Nevermind kind of limped out of the gates but damn if it didn’t run a marathon instead of a sprint! We all know the story, a little song called Smells Like Teen Spirit hits MTV and all of a sudden grunge is on the map and hair metal is dead. Forget the fact that Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, et al were doing years before, forget that Nirvana even had another album before Nevermind. Of course, I’m not here to talk about Nirvana or Nevermind or Seattle or grunge or hair metal or Kurt Cobain.
I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this so this will be an interesting ride for both of us. I think I’m looking at ending up discussing the passage of time and what it all means or how it never pays to look backward or, well, let’s just see when we get there shall we. No doubt about it–20 years is a long time no matter what matrix you use. 20 years used to mean something though, the little brother of 25, 20 meant something big. It was a milestone. To have reached 20 years of age in anything but physical age is really a hell of an achievement. What’s happened though in this hyperaccelerated culture is that 20 now means obsolete.
Think about it, the floppy disc came out in 1970. It took us 1,970 years after the death of a dude on a cross to reach the milestone of putting limited information on a floppy disc that you could load into a computer. In 1971 the compact disc player was introduced, of course at ungodly sums of money that mere mortals could never afford. How about this one for you, the world wide web was developed in 1990! Think about that, it was only in 1990 that anything with the prefix www could be surfed. It took close to 2,000 years to develop the floppy disc and only another 20 from that point to meld innate molecules into a world wide web. It’s world wide for Christ’s sake ! I think it could be argued that once silicon was developed and we could invent the microchip all bets were off.My point is that time moves quicker than it did and not just for me. It moves faster for everyone now. A movie used to have a shelf life of a season, now it gets a weekend, two at best and it’s in the discount plex, TV shows get one or two weeks to perform and then they’re out, life just moves quicker. When I was a senior in high school, Led Zeppelin I was 20 years old, trust me, that 20 years was a hell of a lot slower than the 20 years between now and Nevermind’s release.
Every generation is equipped to deal with the advancement of time and technological wonders that advancement brings better than the previous generation. Having nothing to base it on, I’m sure that the 6 years my son has been alive seems like an eternity to him, and in fact it is his eternity, to me though it’s been the blink of an eye. I mean, geeze, I don’t think Facebook was even in its third generation at this point—it was so long ago! Social media is still in its infancy and it’s already killed the web and is doing the same to traditional ways we interact with games, music, movies and television. The mobile world and the social world are combining and I can tell you right now, I’m being left behind. My son gets it though, he’s comfortable with it and to him not only does it make perfect sense but it’s exactly how it should be.
So I think we’ve arrived folks. This column isn’t about not looking into the past for future happiness, I’ll save that for a future column. It is about the passing of time and how it’s going too damn fast now. There’s no changing it though. It’s fall, in the coming months I recommend you take some time to sip some cider on the porch, maybe jump in a pile of leaves, fly a kite if you can, go to a haunted house or experience Octoberfest somewhere. Do what you can to cherish each moment and slowing it down as much as possible without holding it so tight that it slips through grip. When it comes down to it this is all we have, right now, if you aren’t careful in this accelerated culture you might move so fast getting nowhere you end up with no memories to download to your removable USB storage device we’ll all be equipped with at some point!