A millennium vignette
Friday, December 17, 1999 by Dave Winer.
I wasn't around for most of the last millennium, just the last 44 years.
I didn't realize until the last few weeks how much I looked forward to the next few weeks. In a way it formed my life. "Will I make it?" Not wanting to tempt Murphy, I won't make any big claims. But it *looks* I might be around when the clock rolls over approximately two weeks from now.
It's a shaky time for me personally. All of a sudden it won't be the 1900s anymore. No matter how much my world looks the same, it won't actually be the same. It'll be the 2000s, not the 1900s.
It won't matter if all the computers go down or don't. We're changing, all of us. If like me, you've been devoting some of your energy to wondering if you'd be around, you'll have to let go of that. The space it was filling will be empty. You'll have to find something else to fill it, or you could let it stay empty.
A few days ago I was in a convenience store buying a Diet Pepsi. The guy behind the counter fumbled and sweated. He looked something up in a book. Entered something into a computer. He forgot what he had looked up in the book, looked it up again, entered something into the computer. It beeped. He found another book and looked up something there. He typed something into the computer. It beeped and something came out of its printer. This went on for five minutes!
At first I got agitated. Then I said (to myself) "Take a deep breath." I did. The angst passed. I looked at the man. "He's having a difficult time." This was an unusual thing for me to realize. In times of stress I tend to focus on myself and my needs and how they aren't being met. Taking it personally would be predictable, but it almost certainly would be a fantasy. I'm sure it has nothing to do with me. The sweating man behind the counter is just having a rough day.
After a few more minutes, he figured it out, the cash register popped open, he took my money, gave me my change, let out a sigh of relief and showed a meek embarassed grin. I smiled back.
"Have a nice day," I said, without any sarcasm.
It felt really good!
I don't know this for sure, but it's probably a tough time for almost everyone. There's a lot of stress floating around now. Here's a request. Let's cut everyone else some slack for the next few weeks. When you think someone's trying to do something to you, give it a moment's pause and a deep breath and consider that we're all going thru this together.
It's like a graduation, but on a global scale. There's never been anything like it. It's never happened before, and in our lives it will never happen again. If you screw it up you won't get another chance. So play it safe and assume everyone means well, and let it go at that.
A deep breath and a smile and keep on truckin!
As I was finishing this piece, Dan Gillmor called. He said he has a piece for January 1 in the pipe, but would pre-empt it if there was a cataclysm. "If the lights go out in Auckland I'm going to write about that," Dan said.
Then I had a thought. If the lights go out in Auckland, what would we do in the Pacific time zone? "Set our clocks back!" I exclaimed. Dan said "What a good idea!" I laughed. "You're talking to a programmer Dan."
Over and out.