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21 years in one article (Part One)

Greg Devine


21st Birthday Pinata hanging over balloons and cake

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It’s my birthday—and it’s a big one. I’m 21…I’m officially an adult!


It’s fair to say a lot has happened around the world during those two decades; here’s a round-up of the main events in each year since I was born.


2001 – 9/11

Although it technically occurred before I was born, my mother was heavily pregnant with me on September 11th 2001. The attacks changed the world forever. What unfolded was a war on terrorism, though we now know that this may not have been all it seemed at the time. The incident transformed airport security and tightened a lot of the safety/security procedures into those we take for granted today. My life began the month after this horrific day, yet seeing and talking about the events still brings the same awful feeling.


2002 – The Queen Mother passes

I obviously remember very little of 2002, and this seemed quite a calm year, given the atrocities of the previous one. At 101 years old, the Queen Mother passed away in 2002. Very much like the late Queen Elizabeth ll, her daughter, she was a constant throughout many people’s lives. 2002 also marked Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee, in which she celebrated 50 years on the throne.


2003 – The invasion of Iraq

The US invaded Iraq, which was the start of the Iraq war. I know this divides opinion even now, especially in the UK, with regards to our involvement. With this in mind, I’ll quickly move on.


2004 – The Facebook is launched

Facebook, love it or hate it, is the biggest social media site out there. Mark Zuckerberg launched ‘The Facebook’ in 2004 for Harvard students to connect with each other (he later dropped the ‘The’). Since then, this social media phenomenon has taken over the world; it has even allegedly influenced elections. It has also come under fire in recent years for the way it handles public data. Certainly a standout moment in my lifetime.


Facebook and Messenger logos on blue blocks
Image by Alexander Shitov

2005 – YouTube is launched

In the year following Facebook’s incarnation another 21st Century phenomenon was created. YouTube is a part of my everyday life. I don’t think I’ve gone a day without using it since I was 10 years old. Whilst previous generations consumed their media through television or newspapers, mine predominantly turns to YouTube.


2006 – Nintendo Wii

This was my first ever games console, and the one that provides the most childhood memories. It seemed like every household had a Wii at some point. Its motion controls were very intuitive, and younger people, like 5-year-old me, could get a grip of the different sports that were a feature of the package accompanying the console. The Wii is definitely responsible for the silly amount of hours I’ve spent gaming during my lifetime.


2007 – Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone

Arguably one of the greatest key note speeches ever delivered…when Apple launched the iPhone the world was shocked. It had never before seen anything like it. The iPhone paved the way for the next generation of smartphones. The look and feel of the device have stayed more or less the same ever since.


2008 – Lewis Hamilton becomes World Champion

I love Formula 1 and this list is personal, so I’m going to include it, despite there being a lot of other notable events in 2008. So, what makes this event stand out to me? Hamilton was the first ever black driver to win the F1 World Championship. To this day, he’s still the only black person to have achieved this feat. F1 is a great sport, but it does struggle from a lack of diversity.


2009 – Barrack Obama becomes President of the USA

When I think of US presidents, this is the one that comes to mind. He’s the one I remember being in office the most during my developmental years. Obama was the first black president of the United States.


2010 – One Direction formed

Again, perhaps not the main news story of this year, but this band absolutely dominated my teens. I remember feeling furious that they even existed, given that every girl in my school wouldn’t shut up about them. Their crazy fans had pencil cases and stacks of other merchandise to demonstrate their love for the band, and they’d often tell you useless facts about them. I listened because I was too nice to do otherwise. Was that enough reason to hate them? My feelings were probably rooted in jealousy. Every girl wanted them.


That covers half of my life on this Earth. Check back for Part 2 and see what else influenced me, particularly during those tricky teenage years…

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