I received a long, reflective email from an Australian friend living in Korea, sent to a large group of his contacts. It started:
Welcome to the 3rd decade of the 3rd millennium Anno Domini 2021.
I see that I first wrote about this exactly a year ago.
The idea, here, is the “third decade” of the century starts with Jan. 1, 2021, and not Jan. 1, 2020, because there is no “Year 0.”
In our counting system, “Jan. 1st of AD 1” was the first day of the first year of the era, approximately around the time of Jesus’ birth. Therefore Jan. 1st of AD 2021 would be the first year of the new decade.
I think this is too complicated and decades ought to be measured by the third digit for clarity and simplicity’s sake, and therefore we are now at Day 368 of “the 2020s” (Leap Year 2020 at 366 days, plus Jan. 1st and now Jan. 2nd = 368). Before you know it we will hit the 11% mark of the decade. And for how terrible a decade it’s been so far, one might hope it will get better.
There is another way or counting eras, only possible in retrospect, always subject to possible dispute. The (“Short”) 20th century was really Nov. 1918 to Nov. 1989. A clean seventy-one years, from the end of the Great War in Europe, which unleashed the era of competing ideologies, until the Fall of Communism process, a complicated process but symbolized by the peaceful Fall of the Berlin Wall, Nov. 1989.
In more recent times, “the 2000s” may have ended in Sept. 2008 when the financial crisis suddenly hit, or at least that’s when the panic in the news hit, preceded by the strange oil price spike of mid-year 2020. I remember it.
Economic disruptions affect almost everyone at least a little, and some a lot, often in ways they don’t recognize or appreciate. I was determined to go abroad in 2009 and did. The 2008-09 recession had a long, lingering effect. If my old job were still there, in Sept. 2010, when I showed back up, I would have taken it back. Instead, I did a lot of other things. The 2010s went in unexpected directions for me, but I never had a master-plan anyway, and maybe it was for the better. I did some interesting things in the (calendrical) 2010s.
Now the harder question: When did “The 2010s” begin and end? Or have they not ended yet? We’re too close to say. Check back on this in the 2030s.