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On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger




So, Did The Year 2000 Rollover Fry Your Brain?
January 4th, 2000

We made it, we are in 2000. Welcome to the future! As incredible as it may look, we finally made it past the most awaited - not to be confused with important - moment of contemporary history.

I remember thinking about this when I grew up in the mid-1980's. With my parents and other people close to me, I used to imagine what the year 2000 would be like. I had all sorts of futurist dreams in mind, most of them technological. Popular culture was the culprit. Remember movies such as Back To The Future? Did you ever see the sleeve for the Iron Maiden album named Somewhere In Time? If not, view it below. When this was released in 1986, it fed my imagination about what the future would look like. Even the music sounded futurist.


(click for larger view)

Now that we are in 2000, I feel that somebody let me down. I did not teleport myself to work the other day, and I had to cancel that trip to Pluto because my spaceship is not for sale at the closest retailer yet. Nor could I eat the hamburger-in-a-pill that I was promised. Man, does this suck! At least, we have the Internet to satisfy (in part) our lust for technology. Imagine for a moment that the Net did not exist. The year 2000 would be nothing but yet another calendar we hang to the wall every 365 days. So many expectations, so few results.

I know, I know, this is not a new millennium just because we are in 2000. I should know, I studied history! Dating works so that the first millennium started with the year 1, the second one started with 1001, and the new one will start with 2001. Maybe this is not a new millennium, but we just left the 1000's to enter the 2000's.

Nevertheless, the change coming with the number 2000 remains symbolic, and that is important. People underestimate the power of symbols and their overwhelming influence on daily life. They contribute to decision making, even though you may not realize it. They influence our subconscious.

Whether you choose between two similar items at the pharmacy or vote at the elections for a candidate who appears as credible as his opponent, there is this little something irrational that makes a difference. It is something that struck you before choosing. A symbol.

Maybe that candidate was part of your generation and impressed you as someone who understands what your country needs. Just like you. Maybe that Australian shampoo bottle looked good enough with a koala's picture, made you think that more natural ingredients than other brands, therefore making it better for you. You know?

The symbol behind the year 2000 is significant. Without knowing it, we may enter a new era. Who knows? Who knew, in January 1914, that a general war in Europe would change the world like no previous conflict did? Who knew that when James Watt improved a steam engine in 1763 it would contribute to the acceleration of the industrial revolution in England? Nobody knows when the world enters a new period of history. The 2000 number could be used as a turning point if an event paves the road ahead for major changes. If it happens, you can bet I will brag in my grave for predicting it.

I am sure that to start this new era on a positive note, you had the biggest orgies ever, gulped scandalous quantities of champagne and that your hangover beat the world record in terms of suffering. Hey, this is all good! This is a human tradition when it comes to important celebrations.

Once the party is over, everybody focuses on the dreaded resolutions. Instead of this customary practice, I would suggest that we do something more difficult this year for a change. After all, this new year's rollover is different from all the others we swent through.

Why don't we start thinking? Yes, thinking. And I do not mean Think Different, ya goof. What I am talking about is good old fashioned rational thinking.

We never think. We never take the time to sit back and ponder. We live life at top speed, as if we were watching a movie on the "fast forward". And we forget to think. We forget to think about the people we love. We forget to think about what is happening to us. We forget to stop for a necessary break to find out if our pursuit of happiness takes the right path.

Do you know what we are? Executers. We wake up in the morning, we jump in the shower for ten minutes, sometimes eat a quick breakfast and go to work. Once we are finished, we go home and clean up the mess we left behind in the morning, watch TV and go back to bed. What a life!

We yell at our partners, our coworkers, friends and kids, without thinking about the consequences of our actions. We do so much during a day that we even forget to be happy. We forget that cuddling with our loved ones for a couple of minutes could make our day more than anything else.

Right, we execute and forget to think.

You know, thinking is one of the healthiest exercises for the mind. It helps you to solve your problems in a calm way, and this is much better than simple reactions. It allows you to forge opinions and make up your mind about fundamentals in life. Thinking is what builds a strong mind. Thinking is the action that prevents you from making dumb decisions about your marriage, kids, career, etc. Thinking could prevent you from doing now what you will regret later.

You could end up realizing who (and what) is really important. You could learn to focus on what counts instead of superficial issues like getting a bigger TV set. Thinking makes you a better person. It makes you progress as a human being.

You can do it just anywhere. Do it while on the bus, while waiting at the dentist's office, or in the most popular thinking escape, the public restroom. There is no excuse to avoid it. Whenever you have a chance to analyze what goes on, go for it.

Do you know what stimulates your brain to think? Reading. In almost 23 years of life, most people I met told me that they should read more. They are dead right. Reading brings you knowledge. Reading opens up your mind to learn more and more every day. Reading is the difference between an ignorant person and a knowledgeable one. It is the fuel that feeds your spirit.

This is an habit you have to develop. Nobody comes to life as a reader. I used to hate text. When I saw people with books that totaled more than 500 pages, I wondered how they could live normally while their eyes ran across the words. A few years ago, I decided to make an effort and I bought a big book. I went through it without giving up and once finished. I then continued with a new one. After a few months, I started to like reading. It sharpened my curiosity and now, there are more books that I would want to read than time to go through them. Did you ever spend an hour in a huge bookstore? The peaceful atmosphere you find there is unique. While city life fills me with adrenaline, I appreciate to settle down for a few moments in a place where I know I will find some calm.

Nevermind the people who tell you that reading brings nothing. Those who lead active anti-intellectual campaigns are usually guilty of intellectual laziness. They refuse themselves the pleasure of sitting down for a moment to flip some pages. They refuse to read an article that has more than a couple of paragraphs -- they do not want to make any effort to go further than what they already know. They are happy with the present state of affairs and evolution is not part of their vocabulary. They want people to remain where they are, and they are always jealous when they see a successful person standing out of the pack in the society.

Reading is not an innate quality. But once you take up the habit, you will never want to quit. It will make you a better person.

Who died and left me God to know this? Nobody. My personal experience dictates it. The combination of thinking and reading can change your life. Now that both are daily habits for me, I am a much happier person. Do it and after a while, you will notice the change. It can help to turn your life around when all else fails. It will cause a small revolution inside your mind, and you will gain maturity faster than ever.

This is my suggestion for the new year. Start thinking and help yourself by reading. Forget the conventional resolutions that you never hold anyway, and raise your target to new heights. It is worth it. Or maybe you are worth it. You will thank me for it in a few years...

Happy 2000 everybody!

Your comments are welcomed.

Michael Munger is a French Canadian living in Montreal. He discovered the Mac in 1994 while studying journalism, the profession he loves and practices. He also studied history and communications. In addition to his work at The Mac Observer, he authors the iBasics tutorial column at Low End Mac, and cofounded MacSoldiers in 1998.

You can find more about him at his personal Web site.

You are welcome to send me your comments or you can post them below.

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