In a couple of months, those born in the millennium will be full-grown adults — or will become adults in the course of the year. I hate to bring up an old argument, but let’s get it out of the way here — the millennium began in the year 2001, not a year earlier. Simple math. Year one. Then one thousand years later, year 1001. Another thousand years, and what do we have? Exactly.
Those of us born in the last century, including those born in the 90s who thought they would be young forever, have to come to terms with this divide. How do we fit into the new world? By not talking constantly of the good old days, by not regularly complaining about the attitude, knowledge and dress sense of those born in this century, by not pretending we have the attitude and energy of PLT (People Like Them).
Look at our advantages. We know who Monica Lewinsky is, PLT don’t. OK, one swallow does not make a summer, but how about these? We knew Czechoslovakia when it was called that, we lived through the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we can recognise photographs of Richard Burton and knew of Elizabeth Taylor when she was just half-a-dozen husbands old.
Of course PLT believe that Twitter always existed, that space tourism is an old idea, as is Lady Gaga who has been around forever. If you showed them a transistor radio, they might believe you have invented something new. Likewise the shaving blade and fax machine. Every generation has people who can’t distinguish between the really old and the really new. Both appear magical.
In other respects too, the PLT are also PLU (People Like Us). I can’t remember who the American President was before John F Kennedy – and neither do they. Memory fails in one case, in the other the head was not filled with such memories in the first place. Growing up, and into my teens I had an eidetic memory. Today I have Google. We had emotions, PLT have emojis. Going to a movie was a family outing for us; today it is a solitary pursuit on the phone. There were friends, there are ‘friends’. You unfriended someone by crossing the road when you saw him approach – it was called cutting someone dead. Today the touch of a key will in reality end virtual friendships.
When we turned 18, did those then in their 50s give so much thought to it? Unlikely. They were busy inventing the cell phone and refining the computer to bother about us. But they did think we had attitude, dressed badly and thought history began only the day we were born.