Editor’s note: This column was intended to run Wednesday, Jan. 1, but because the YNT does not publish on New Year’s Day, it’s running Jan. 2.

If you’re reading this on the day of its release, then you know that this is the last day of the 2010s decade. After 3,652 days, we are finally about to enter the 2020s. It’s crazy to think that ten years ago, I was a mere little eight-year-old who knew very little about the world. Now, looking back as a 17-year-old finishing up his junior year, I can look back on everything that’s changed since then. While our entire world is still the same old Earth, our social construct as a society has undergone major renaissance.

One of the biggest evolutions that occurred in this decade is the adaptation of technology and more specifically, the smartphone. In 2011, only 35% of the United States owned a smartphone. That number is up to 81% in 2019. This also correlates to the rise of social media, which increased 30% in this decade. What’s crazy to me is that I don’t remember a world where iPhones didn’t exist. I, of course, have memories from when I was five and six, but who thinks of those topics at that age? In the time I’ve been a competent human, the smartphone has just been another aspect in life. It’s availability now compared to a mere ten years ago is insane.

The introduction of smartphones wasn’t the only change in technology this decade. Another came in the form of streaming services. While Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime were around before 2010, they didn’t catch fire until this decade. Many families still own cable TV, but plenty have shifted their focus to these subscription-based outlets. With a larger selection of shows and the option to binge series in a single weekend, these entertainment giants have proclaimed their dominance in this era of television.

The other subscrition services that have ruled the last ten years have revolved around music. Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora Music have been industry titans this decade. In 2011, there was a mere one million users on Spotify. Now, as we enter the 2020s, that number has leaped to 217 million users worldwide. While this industry has grown, it has single-handedly killed the CD market. Sales of compact disks have dropped nearly 80% since the rise of streaming. As someone who collects vinyl records as a sort of novelty item right now, it makes me wonder if my children will collect CDs one day, considering them a “lost art”.

While people of the decades before turned to traditional sports for enjoyment, many in the 2010s found satisfaction in the form of eSports, otherwise known as competitive gaming. These last ten years have been big ones for the eSports industry, with Fortnite, Rocket League, Overwatch, and other such games making waves in the world of entertainment. In the 2000s, the competitive gaming scene was little more than a punchline to many who believed video games were a joke. However, as we head into the 2020s, it’s a multi-million dollar industry that’s opened up the opportunity for average people to become online celebrities.

But gaming wasn’t the only online platform to explode in the 2010s. A little unknown website by the name of YouTube took the world by storm. While the website was formed in 2005, many people just saw it as a place you went to watch cat videos. Now, these past ten years have proven that it’s much more than that. People from all across the world have been able to make an occupation out of YouTube this decade. Whether it was from posting makeup tutorials, video game playthroughs, movie reviews, or just vlogs in your living room, many celebrities have sprouted from this era in entertainment.

I could keep going, but the changes are endless. These last ten years have been some of the most influential in all of history. It really was the era of technology. But the crazy thing is every decade in the modern era has ended with people saying that. It was the 1980s thanks to the first computers, video game consoles, and Walkmans. Then, it was the 1990s with the introduction of the Nokia, DVDs, and Google. The 2000s brought us Bluetooth, Facebook, and the iPhone. Really, the 2010s didn’t bring us as much new technology. Instead, it helped us to normalize the concept. This was the decade where the world realized our lives live in our pocket.

This last decade has been insane. As we all prepare to enter the 2020s, let’s get excited for what these next ten years have to offer. Will we have flying cars? Teleportation? Robot dogs? Regardless of what comes with the next decade, I hope you all have a good New Year’s Eve, and I bid the 2010s a farewell.

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