Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Millennium madness

Editorial cartoon

Millennium madness

Disclaimer: in the following editorial you will hear the phrases "Y2K," "millennium" and possibly even "Willenium." We apologize for making you suffer through mentionings of these already over-hyped, over-used, over-everything terms, but this is exactly our point.

Although the idea of the Y2K bug and the meaning of the millennium could be found in cultural discourse and the writings of computer gurus years ago, only in the last year have the masses been introduced and quickly inundated with the concept of the end of the world – either by Apocalyptic means or by a paralysis of society's technological backbone.

As soon as Y2K awareness was established, two camps ensued – those who panicked, versus those who dismissed the whole thing as hype. Either way, both would suffer through a year of news stories, movies and pro-apocalyptic web postings about the ordeal. John-John is definitely dead, Columbine High has resumed classes – the media needed something else to sell and they found it.

Even if everyone is sick of hearing about it, it's hard to deny that our dependence on technology does deserve some attention or that dooming prophecies of Biblical proportions are kind of thought provoking.

On some level, especially with the rise of the "global village" – another catch phrase still ringing in our ears – all of humanity could have used the coming of the year 2000 as an excuse to band together, re-evaluate our goals and rejuvenate our compassion for our planet and our people. Instead, we took the road much travelled – the one with a little less integrity and profundity. We turned it into one fantastic ad campaign.

With barely a pocket on this planet that doesn't subscribe to capitalist ideals, it is no secret that we live in a commercial world. And at no time was this better illustrated than this past year.

Even before most Y2K fears were assuaged, ad execs had their feet confidently propped on their brainstorming meeting tables, knowing the millennium would practically do their jobs for them. M&Ms are now "The Candy of the Millennium." McDonald's offered us "Fry2K." Screw that whole "new face of humanity" thing, there are people to be manipulated and unneeded products to be consumed.

It was inevitable, however, in this fast-paced world, that people would get sick of the whole thing – and so they did. As soon as the lights remained lit and water remained running at 12 a.m. on New Year's Day, any thoughts about Y2K were washed from our minds. If it can't be sold in a 30 second sound-bite, it will die and die fast.

On the bright side, our short-sighted, commercial outlook, which eliminates any major anxiety or fearful foresight, certainly did help to make for one hell of a party, complete with "I survived Y2K and all I got was this stupid T-shirt" shirts, on sale now for a very, very low price.

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