Are you happy to be coming of age in 2020? Or do you wish you were growing up in a different time?
Twenty years ago, many people feared that when computer clocks changed from the year 1999 to 2000, “elevators would crash and the planes would fall straight out of the sky. Whatever money your parents had saved would be deleted when the bank accounts were erased.” While these apocalyptic predictions didn’t come true, the Y2K panic “marked a generation of young people forever,” writes The New York Times in the reflection Y2K @ 20.
Yet, many young people today now look at this anxious period with envy and desire. In “Teens Are Super Obsessed With Y2K,” Taylor Lorenz writes:
Some teens today, though they were born in the year 2000 or shortly after, crave to go back in time and experience the era just out of their grasp. They feel, like so many young people before them have, like they missed out on the best time by just a decade or two.
To relive the Y2K era, they run Instagram accounts like @2000sluv, @2000sjournals, @00sfreak, and @y2ktrashy and more, all stocked with a mix of content culled from the early aughts — vacuuming up paparazzi pics, screen grabs, magazine pullouts, and catalog clips. They worship the early 2000s style and maintain an encyclopedic knowledge of 2000s pop culture. On YouTube, they vlog themselves “living in the 2000s for a day” or for the weekend.
“You know when you’re a little girl, and you play role model games? It’s like that but for teenagers, you’re playing dress up,” said Victoria Johnson, 19, who runs @y2khottie.
But because Y2K fans were babies or not even born yet, their perception of the early 2000s is shaped almost entirely by movies and media that paint a glossy image of the often fraught and anxiety filled experience of being a teenager.
Nicole Randone, 19, who runs @miss2005, watched early 2000s teen movies like “A Cinderella Story” and “John Tucker Must Die.”
“When I saw these TV shows when I was little, I was like, ‘I can’t wait to grow up and be just like that,’ I saw those characters as what I wanted to be,” she said. Movies and shows about teenage life today, she said, are too dark and depressing.
By the time Nicole entered her teenage years, the world had been upended by smartphones and social media. The culture was radically different. “The early 2000s were all about having fun and expressing your individuality. In today’s world, everything and everyone is taken so seriously,” said Nicole.
She yearns for the days when in-person communication and phone calls ruled the world. “I hate how technology ruined face to face communication. It was so much better in the 2000s,” she said. “Technology keeps evolving and keeps taking over our lives. The movie ‘Smart House’ in 1999, I think, was a warning about how technology could ruin your life, and I really think that happened.”