Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why I Won't Be Celebrating the New Decade Until 2020

Scully: "Mulder, those people, even when they were alive, mangled biblical prophecy to the extent that it's unrecognizable. The year 2000 is just their artificial deadline and besides, 2001 is actually the start of the new millennium."
Mulder: "Nobody likes a math geek, Scully." ("Millennium," The X-Files)

For the past week or so I have been seeing several posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in which someone posts a picture of himself or herself from 2010 and one from 2019. Many media outlets have already published their round-ups of the greatest albums, songs, TV shows, and so on from the 2010s. Quite simply, there are many people who are treating 2020 as the beginning of a new decade, the Twenties.

This is to be expected, as the common way of referring to decades is by their penultimate digit. In other words, people think of 1960 to 1969 as the Sixties because "6" is the next to last digit. While this is the most common way of referring to decades, I have to admit that it does wreak havoc with my slight obsessive-compulsiveness. Quite simply, there was no year "0" in the Common Era, so that the first decade would consist of only nine years--1 to 9 CE--in order for things to work out. For things to work in my head, then, I interpret decades as running from 1 to 10. In other words, for me the Sixties took place from 1961 to 1970. Quite naturally, this means I won't be doing any "end of decade" posts this year. Those will have to wait until 2020.

For the vast majority of you who refer to decades in the common way by their penultimate digit, don't worry. I am not going to jump your case. I am not a "math geek" by any means (in fact, I need a calculator just to add and subtract). By the same token, I ask that you don't get onto me for not referring to decades the way everyone else does. And if you are looking forward to my end of decade posts, well, I ask for your patience in waiting for them until next year.

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