Taking a cue from some of the other bloggers who are doing the 10 memorable moments meme. Being one of the younger bloggers, I’m going to try to think of some especially applicable moments. There will of course be overlap, but I think the reasoning behind the defining moments might be a little bit different.
Feel free to argue against me, or hey, why don’t you create your own damn list? 😉
(Edit: I realize now that these aren’t true specific-moment-in-time moments, but that’s because Nicole and George didn’t do that either, so I got confused. Let’s just go with moments-slash-inventions, ok?)
Ten Defining Moments of My Generation
Wikipedia, Google and Napster, Oh My!
These were among the first online megacompanies that influenced how our generation learned and consumed media. It defined how we and our teachers, professors and parents approached our education. I remember when my 10th grade history teacher forbade us from using Wikipedia because it wasn’t “legitimate.” Libraries were a thing of the past, and copyrights became debatable.
Our First War
I remember on the morning of 9/11 my father telling me that I was watching history. The first tower had already fallen by the time I woke up on the West Coast, and I sat on the couch in the living room with my dad and watched the second one crash into Manhattan. The rest of the day, the weeks and months afterwards were consumed by 9/11, but it didn’t stop. A significant portion of my life has been marked by the second Gulf War in Iraq. I was only five years old when the first one happened, so this is truly my first experience with the words “combat”, “troops” and “casualties” in the vocabulary of our news anchors. I was fifteen when 9/11 happened, and since I just celebrated my 23rd birthday, about a third of my life has seen the war on terror.
Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Hanson, 98 Degrees… they weren’t the first boy bands, that’s for sure, but they were our boy bands. And we loved them dearly. Now we have a fresh new crop of boy bands (hello Jonas Brothers!) which are, of course, merely a reincarnation of the past. But boy do they strike frenzy in the hearts of teens and fear in the hearts of parents and boyfriends across the land.
This was one of the first pieces of “new technology” that I truly remember. That and cordless telephone. But truly I think VCRs for the first time made the idea that you could control what you watched when you watched it, and allowed people to enjoy other activities without missing their favorite shows. It’s something we take for granted now with DVRs and On Demand television, but VCRs were pretty kick-ass back in the day.
First it was Columbine, but in the months after there were mimic attacks in public schools around the country. I was thirteen when Columbine happened and I remember that it was the first time that I was truly afraid for my life. Every school has their outcasts, their delinquents, the guy or girl in all black, who sits by themselves in class or in the cafeteria. For the most part, you just ignored them. But after Columbine, you couldn’t help but wonder…
For me, this was an indication of independence. It allowed us to make split-second changes in plans and freedom from our parents while, of course, still being within arms reach. Cell phones are now required by law (c’mon now, sure feels that way!) and I don’t even have a land line. My generation is probably the first generation who will turn down – repeatedly – offers from the phone company to get the hook up.
E-mail and Instant Messenger
The only time I ever write a letter is when I’m writing to my grandmothers, because neither of them use the Internet. Well, one of them is starting to use it a bit more but I’m not sure how often she checks it and she only got the Internet about three years ago. However, with my friends in high school and college, e-mail was the way to communicate. Honestly, I hardly even used my cell phone or landline when I was in the house. I was always on the Internet, and thus, always on IM so I could chat with my friends no matter where they lived. I know people claim that instant messaging is ruining the structure of communication with LOLspeak, but I like to think it’s enhancing our ability to interact with those who are different from us, to share ideas and have a dialogue with people we would otherwise be unable to.
America’s Obsession with Celebrities
Alright, I know this isn’t terribly unique to my generation – people have been admiring celebrities for decades – but I think our generation is especially influenced by the media darlings like Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and others. For example, the fashion choices now made by young girls and teens usually have a direct correlation with what a celebrity is wearing. Sure, fashion influence for adults is one thing – but having teens and tweens wanting to look like a 25-year-old is a little creepy to say the least. The fact we have multiple – THAT MEANS MORE THAN ONE! – television shows about celebrities is kinda freaky and I think it sets the wrong example of the kind of people our society should value.
Have you noticed I haven’t actually put the Internet on this list, but just various incarnations of the Internet? While the Internet has obviously been very influential, there are certain aspects of it that have had a much greater impact on my specific generation. Pedophiles are one of them. When my parents and your parents, and perhaps even you, were growing up, the main fear was of adults taking children from malls, playgrounds and even off the front lawn. Then children were told to stay inside. Then they started going on the Internet, thinking they were safer there. But they weren’t. As a young girl, I have been propositioned more than once on the Internet. When I was 12, it terrified me. Now that I’m older, I have a better sense of who is safe and who isn’t, and I can quickly halt or redirect the conversation. But being afraid of strangers who sound like friends is something no other generation has come across.
Nickelodeon was founded under its original name, Pinwheel, in 1979 (thanks Wikipedia!) and was later renamed in 1981, just four years before I was born. Thus, Nickelodeon has been around for my entire life and I spent much of my childhood addicted to its programming. My brother and I even subscribed to the Nickelodeon magazine, the first magazine I ever read on a regular basis. There is something extraordinarly nostalgic about those TV shows, almost like our entire childhood is wrapped up in the shows that aired in the early 90s. Many people call that classic Nickelodeon and that the shows of today just aren’t nearly as good. I tend to agree. Pete & Pete, Clarissa Explains It All, Who’s Afraid of the Dark and All That may have launched the careers of a few famous actors, but for the most part, the casts remain a constant only in the reruns and DVDs of these shows, like a visual scrapbook of my childhood.
My Ten Defining Moments
I agree with Nicole – my birth is a fairly significant defining moment in my life, so I’ll put that one first. August 6, 1985 at 10:48 p.m., I, Allison Michelle Blass, was born at Beth Kaiser Medical Center which is now – as my father has told me – Reebok’s Portland office.
The Birth of Eric
That would be my younger brother. This is a fairly significant date as well because without him, I would be an only child and probably have a lot more stuff. Okay, okay, I’m kidding. But being an older sister is certainly a defining characteristic, and has probably made me far more bossy than if I was a younger sister. My brother and I actually got along fairly well when we were growing up, and I appreciate the fact that he was more easy going than I, because it made doing things like going to the corner store for ice cream, picking blackberries and going to the movies actually fun and not a painstaking chore.
Being diagnosed with diabetes is probably the second most influential day next to actually being born, because it has shaped more of my decisions than just about anything else I can think. I can honestly say that much of what I have done and much of what I have learned about me as a person is related to lessons that diabetes has taught me. I may still have been a totally awesome person, but in this life, I know that diabetes is a big part of why I am the way I am. For better or for worse.
Becoming a Christian
This is actually a moment seven years in the making. That’s right. It took me seven years to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. And let me tell you, that is a LONG time. Like, way long. I was 12 years old when I first approached a pastor about Jesus when I was staying at a summer resort with my family. Seven years later and I was baptized on a Thursday afternoon in the August after my freshman year in college. It was a long and bumpy road full of doubts and questions, and it’s still a bumpy road. But I also know it was the best decision I ever made.
Children’s Congress 2001
This was my entrance into the world of diabetes advocacy. I literally hadn’t done anything except a handful of Walks before this. But the people there inspired me to fight the good fight and I was connected with the right people and shown the right attitude to do it. It’s been an amazing ride.
The Death of Darcee
Darcee was a girl in my fourth grade class who had a degenerative brain disease called MLD. If you visit this website, you will actually see a picture of Darcee in the banner on the upper right hand side of the screen. MLD is a complicated disease that causes personality changes and mobility disfunction among other things. It made Darcee… different. My classmates treated her badly, and even though she wanted to be my friend, I didn’t like her so I wasn’t particularly nice to her either. We didn’t know she was sick. Just as fifth grade started, we found out that Darcee was sick and that she was going away to get better. While she was gone, we sent her get well letters and pictures. I knew how fake it was, but I did it anyway. On December 15, 1995, Darcee passed away at age 10. It was the first death I had ever experienced of someone I knew. Of course, death is hard but when it’s the death of someone who was sick and that you were mean to, the guilt was devastating. Since then, I have always tried very hard to be considerate and respectful of everyone, even if I don’t understand why they do what they do. Darcee would have turned 23 years old on June 28 of this year.
The Deaths of Teddy, Dr. Hansen and Mr. Othus
Eight years later and I went through three more excruciating deaths. The first was Teddy, a classmate I had known for years, who took his own life during the fall of my senior year in high school. It was the first mourning that I experienced with my close friends, and it also made me appreciate how important it is to recognize and acknowledge depression. Dr. Hansen, my first endocrinologist and the one that made diabetes much less scary, died that spring of the liver cancer he was diagnosed with five years earlier. I have written about Dr. Hansen before, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to read about that. Three weeks after I started my freshman year in college, and almost one year to the date of Teddy’s death, Mr. Othus, my history teacher and the mentor to half my high school, passed away unexpectedly from colon cancer. All three of these deaths impacted me in different ways, but they taught me the importance of life and encouraged me to live my life in the ways I admired about them.
I have not always been a happy person, and there were occasional moments during high school and college when that manifested itself in negative ways – namely, the cutting I did in high school and college. It wasn’t something I did on a regular basis, but I had a propensity towards self-harm that I spent a lot of energy on controlling. I eventually sought therapy in my sophomore year of college, which taught me about my need to control situations and the anger I had towards myself when I thought I should be in control and wasn’t. I am a huge advocate of therapy, and medication if that’s something you and your psychiatrist think it’s necessary.
Clearly, blogging has changed my life and certainly for the better. Without blogging, I honestly don’t know where I’d be. I have learned so much from all of you, and I truly feel like you have made me a better person. I have had so many opportunities to learn and also share what I know through blogging. I have traveled extensively because of the people I have met, I got my job because of my blog and heck, I was even in the New York Times! Can’t beat that.
Moving to the East Coast
Moving three thousand miles away from everything you know will teach you a lot about how to be alone among millions of people. It’s terrifying. It’s really, fucking hard. And if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have been scared shitless to try it. But I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into and I had only the dream of living in the Big City to propel me forward. Lucky for me, I did the move in baby steps. First a small suburb in New Jersey, now Hoboken, and perhaps in a year or two, the Big Apple. I also had the support of my cousins as well as wonderful co-workers who made it easy to not think this was all a huge mistake. If you want to try it, I say: Go for it. It’s hard, but it’s totally worth everything.