Saturday, January 02, 2010

Probably a pointless debate

Since the dawn of 2010, I've heard something from several respected friends and sources that I'd never heard previously.

Apparently, this isn't the end of the decade.

Instead of 2010 being the first year of the teens (or whatever alternate cutesy name we wind up giving it), some are considering it the last year of the aughts (or whatever alternate cutesy name we gave that decade - I like aughties myself. Sounds like eighties).

One of my friends argues it's because there was no year zero, and thus every decade ends at the tenth year, which in that case would have been the year 10. It's also been said it's this way because, when you count to 10, you don't start at zero.

OK. Fair enough. These arguments make sense in some respects. I agreed that the 21st century actually began in 2001 using similar logic (and, as it turned out with Bush's inauguration, culturally as well). Still, I always considered 2000 the first year of that decade.

And consider three things: 1) Just as there was no year zero, there also was no year 1-10, or even the first few centuries, for that matter. The year calendar as we know it began in either 284 (Diocletian, not used by Western Christians) or the sixth century (Anno Domini, introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who decided it was 525 A.D.). Not to mention the change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Or all the other bumps along the way. The point being, early Western civilization counted arbitrarily at best.

Beyond that, though, the simpler reason to start a decade at zero is this: 2) it's in the name. I was born in 1980. That's not the 1970s. My sister was born in 1990. Nobody considers her an '80s girl. It should be common sense. And, yes, I suppose you could argue that a decade is really what it represents, which is why people say things like, "The 1960s ran from 1964-69," and even I've done that sometimes (as far as the sixties go). But this idea that 2010 is part of the aughts is technical at best and annoying at worst. As I've shown, it takes a strict allegiance to an arbitrary dating system to make a point that, even if you accept it, you have to admit is pretty goofy.

Oh, and there's one last point: 3) We should all want to flee the past decade as fast as possible. Fresh start and all that. See ya, aughts.

No comments: