Just as the holidays come earlier every year, so do, it seems, end-of-year recaps. And since this year is a particularly big one—not just the end of a year, but the end of a decade—the recaps started trickling in before we’d even put away our Halloween costumes.
The recap that seems to have captured the most attention by far has not been of the “Best of” variety, that time-honored tradition in which groups of revered critics huddle together to make all but 10 people in a given industry feel as if they’ve missed the mark, but a simple prompt dispatched on Twitter by a guy named Tony.
The tweet enjoyed and then suffered the typical viral content life cycle: It was promoted, earnestly engaged with, playfully riffed on, then cancelled. Those who appreciated the Tweet took the opportunity to bask in their accomplishments, many of them hard won, while detractors dismissed it as a cheap opportunity to get one last humblebrag in before the dawn of our new decade. (The term “humblebrag,” as it happens, was coined by the comedy writer Harris Wittels via Twitter in 2010, a fitting bookend.)
When I first saw the Tweet, my body tensed up a little, not because of a surging value judgment of the exercise, but because I doubted my ability to remember “important” things I had done, or more specifically, when the hell I had done them. I would describe my memory as impressionistic—light on specific details; heavy on mood, essence. For a while (oh, let’s say somewhere between 2010 and 2012), I worried this was going to make it really hard to be a writer, never mind the fact that I already was one. My concerns were alleviated when an author I loved described their memory in a similar way during an interview, although of course now I can’t remember who it was. Hopefully I still like their work.
So, anyway, I am probably the worst person to be commandeering a month’s worth of content about whatever-the-hell-happened between 2010 and 2020, but thankfully I am not the only person who writes for this site, and, to be fair, I’ve been Googling a Lot of Stuff since we decided that’s what December was going to be all about. That is, by the way, what December is going to be all about: the most fascinating things that happened between 2010 and 2020—what they meant and why they matter.
Here are a few topics we’ll definitely be touching on…
– How the ombré trend kind of explains everything
– Early Instagrams (annotated!)
– An assessment of words (i.e. humblebrag) invented during the 2010s
– The red carpet looks we’ll remember for at least the next 10 years
And more! That’s where you come in: What do you want to read about? Which pop culture moments demand dissection? What’s a better way to talk about the best books, movies, etc. outside of a top 10 list? What kinds of personal milestones are you reflecting on before we’re catapulted into the 2020s? Is the practice of tallying up your accomplishments at the end of a decade fatally flawed or is there some value to it?
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.