We Didn’t Start The Fire

By: Krishna Advani
Picture source: Google Images

“…It was always burning,

Since the world’s been turning…”

As much as I wish I could borrow the lyrical fluency of Billy Joel in not only summarizing the political occurrences of the past decades in a way that makes you tap your feet, but also conveying their urgency in a manner as blasé, I’m afraid all that I am left with is a sense of agreement, that we didn’t, indeed, start the fire. 

Oh what an age, the past decade has been. While we seem to be gearing up for a truly roaring 20s, it has not escaped our notice that the times are just as dire as the century preceding this one. We are, as a global community, staring down the barrel of a gun that seems to be locked and loaded — but in the truest spirit of fighting tooth and nail, there seems to have been all but acceptance for it. The rapid growth of social media usage has amplified the concept of politics, protests and from communal achievements to disasters in policy and governance, making me review the  milestones of global politics and social events this past decade; a decade which started without Uber or Spotify on the App Store, a reality show host in the Oval Office, and the repeated splintering of opinions and ideologies.

What started off as a period with the iPad coming into existence in 2010, became a time with Royal Weddings, Royal Babies, some truly crazy internet trends (like Harambe being voted for President, and of course, the challenges like planking and ice bucket). We eventually bid adieu to a lot of what we carried into this millennium as children of the ‘80s and ‘90s, like the original Harry Potter series, and an oblivion to K-Pop. In came the age of Gangnam Style, and everyone’s best attempt at or worst fear of ‘going viral’. The lifestyle became a lot less real, and a lot more available on a screen. Through the much-discussed end of the world in 2012 (and it’s lack thereof) to a spiral into figuring out What The Fox says — this truly became a time of the creation of a virtual comfort zone that was but a tap away. It was just as much the time for awareness. The 2010s brought with them the concept of being ‘aware’ like no other, and in a way was no less than a revolutionary phase in our lives, where ‘information’ became akin to oil. What started off with Apple’s racially inclusive emojis turned into the hashtag snowball — one that is still garnering attention globally, whether or not it directly effects its reader. These highlighted words didn’t just become a symbol of conversation about important topics, but also turned into mass-movements in a way that transcended borders. From the celebratory ‘#LoveIsLove’ after the legalization of gay marriage by the Supreme Court of The United States, to one of the most heard of ones yet: ‘#MeToo’. That in itself amplified the loudest worldwide Women’s Movements yet. 

This is what brings us to the phenomenal pattern of event after event causing people (and not just the ones affected by it) to take to the streets and make themselves noticed — make themselves heard. From the roads of Hong Kong to the grounds of Mumbai; this decade has called for expression to be redefined as involving disagreement, dissent, and, in some lucky cases, tolerance of another’s politics and opinions. In the extraordinary exercise of democracy, some movements even showed that there is more to politics than an ‘opinion’ — it’s about lived realities. 

So while we didn’t start the fire of today’s times, we certainly have come full circle with its events. And while it was always burning since the world was turning — we definitely tried to fight it. 

“We didn’t start the fire,

No we didn’t light it,

But we tried to fight it…”

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