Ideas in the political and cultural realm these days have a much shorter life span than they did before the Internet. They simply don’t have the time to develop before everyone grows tired of them and ready to move on.
This makes it really hard to develop decade-defining styles, fashion, and ideologies in comparison to previous, more defining decades. However, this doesn’t mean we didn’t have memorable moments and interesting personalities to talk about in the 2010s.
Consider the following list of 25 Historic Moments from the 2010s That Will Go Down in History Books. It will help you realize the 2010s weren’t as boring and dull as some nostalgic fans of the past suggest.
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Streaming killed video stores
The year 2014 marked the final year for many video store chains, including the legendary Blockbuster. The massive video giant filed for bankruptcy and shuttered nearly all of its locations as DVD sales plummeted.
By then, Netflix had just introduced a new way to consume content: streaming. This ushered in a new era and forever changed the entertainment industry.
It’s all about “Netflix and chill” these days.
Alright, some may argue that homemade selfie sticks could date back as early as 1925. And you know what? They are probably right.
The thing is that the term “selfie stick” did not become widely known until 2014, though.
For that matter, it was only in 2015 when technology news started advertising a large variety of selfie sticks available on the market.
The Arab Spring
The causes of the Arab Spring were many and long-gathering. For decades, Arab populations had faced repression of free speech, human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, corruption, and stifling of political dissent.
Justice and human dignity were not priorities in most states. However, what was supposed to be peaceful ended up becoming a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s.
Almost a decade later, and there’s still conflict in many countries in the Middle East. Analysts have referred to the ongoing conflicts as the Arab Winter.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
When a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet disappeared without a trace in early 2014, the fate of the plane and its 239 passengers and crew onboard became one of the biggest aviation mysteries in history.
The missing plane captured the attention of millions around the world, triggering a multinational search and plenty of conspiracy theories.
For years it remained an unsolved mystery until Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Najib Razak, stated that the aircraft’s flight ended somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
No further explanation had been given since then. Are you happy with this explanation? I know I am not!
"Golden Age" of Television
Some may argue that the original Golden Age of Television occurred during the 1950s. Others may claim that it all started in the 1990s with TV shows such as Friends and The X-Files.
According to the numbers and statistics, the 2010s is undoubtedly the true Golden Age of Television. Cable providers saw a decline in subscriber numbers as cord-cutters switched to lower-cost online streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Video.
These non-cable, Internet-based media streaming services even began producing their own programming.
As for the TV “products” of the 2010s? Way too many to name but let’s focus on the top show. Can you name another TV show in history that had the cultural influence (on a global scale) that Game of Thrones still has?
… We’re waiting …
Shifting social attitudes saw LGBT rights make substantial progress during the decade, particularly in the West and parts of Asia and Africa.
Same-sex marriage, specifically, was legally performed and recognized in several countries during the decade, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States (all fifty states).
Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian in history
The 2010s saw many great sportsmen claiming the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time) status within their sports.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in association football; Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic in tennis; LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in basketball; Tom Brady breaking tons of individual and team records in the NFL … and the list goes on.
None of them, however, managed to break a record that lasted for thousands of years. Well, except maybe one very special athlete: Michael Phelps.
Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time, after winning his 13th individual Olympic title in the 2012 Summer Olympics. By doing so, he broke a 2168-year-old record that was held by an ancient Greek athlete named Leonidas of Rhodes.
Michael Phelps has won a total of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them being gold. He’s literally ahead of several nations in the all-time medal table.
The first-ever photo of a black hole
The year that just ended (2019) marked another first for mankind. On April 10th, the world was treated to something unprecedented: the first-ever image of a black hole.
Specifically, the image captured the Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) at the center of M87, a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the Virgo constellation.
This accomplishment drew on years of hard work involving astronomers, observatories, and scientific institutions from all around the world.
The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, also known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, is definitely one for the history books, but unfortunately not for a good reason.
It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.
The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that may have reached heights of up to 133 feet (40.5 meters).
Residents of Sendai had only eight to ten minutes of warning, and it’s estimated that more than 19,000 people lost their lives during the most catastrophic natural disaster of the 21st century so far.
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. The movement was to protest against economic inequality.
The Canadian anti-consumerist and pro-environment group/magazine Adbusters initiated the call for a protest.
The OWS created the now-legendary “We are the 99%” slogan, which refers to income and wealth inequality in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.
Superhero films take over
Superhero movies became box office leaders for the first time in film history.
Avengers: Endgame grossed an incredible $2.7 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and the highest-grossing movie of all time, surpassing 2009’s Avatar.
Amazon rainforest fires
Dark clouds of smoke smothered cities in Brazil as parts of the Amazon burned at a rate not seen in years. For a few weeks in August of 2019, the world’s eyes were fixed on Brazil and its government’s response.
It is estimated that over 906 thousand hectares of forest within the Amazon biome were lost to fires in just a few weeks.
In addition to the impact on global climate, the fires created environmental concerns from the excess carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide due to the fires’ emissions. Other concerns include potential impacts on the biodiversity of the Amazon and threats to indigenous tribes that live within the forest.
Impeachment of Trump
The impeachment of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, occurred on December 18, 2019, when the House of Representatives approved articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The president’s impeachment came after a formal House inquiry found that he had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid, and then obstructed the inquiry itself by telling his administration officials to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony.
Could President Trump become the first American president in history to be removed from his office through this procedure? This is a question that will be answered during the 2020s.
The Paris terror attacks, also known as the “Bataclan massacre,” was a brutal series of coordinated strikes that shocked the world.
ISIS terrorists carried out suicide bombings and several mass shootings across the city and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis, on November 13, 2015.
The first of the attacks happened at 9:20 pm at the Stade de France, where France was playing Germany in an international football match.
Two other suicide bombers wearing identical suicide vests detonated them outside the stadium shortly afterward. Meanwhile, near the center of Paris, gunmen stormed cafes and restaurants.
The attackers killed 130 people in total, including 90 at the Bataclan theatre. It’s considered one of the worst terrorist attacks in Europe’s history.
Brexit is the referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which took place on June 23, 2016. U.K. residents decided that the benefits of belonging to the unified monetary body no longer outweighed the costs of free movement of immigration.
Brexit became a reality in 2019 and now it remains to see if the Brits made the right or wrong decision.
Virtual reality hits the markets
Virtual reality took a radical shift in the 2010s, with headsets such as the Oculus Rift gaining popularity.
While the device was only capable of rotational tracking, the initial design would later serve as a basis from which the later designs came.
Other popular headsets include PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, and the Samsung Gear VR.
First all-women spacewalk
In 2019, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first spacewalk with an all-women team.
The event was described as a giant leap for womankind and not unfairly so. The two NASA astronauts made space history on October 18 by completing the first-ever spacewalk by an all-female group.
So, who knows? Maybe the first “man” on Mars will be a woman after all. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Hong Kong protests
Hong Kong’s protests, which started in June of 2019, were against plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then returned to China. Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, it has some autonomy, and its people have more rights.
The bill was withdrawn in September but demonstrations continue and now demand full democracy and an inquiry into police actions. Clashes between police and activists grew violent at some point, with police firing live bullets and protesters attacking officers and throwing petrol bombs.
There have been two deaths: a man struck in the head by a brick allegedly thrown at him by protesters during a civil confrontation, and Chow Tsz-lok, a student protester, who fell to his death inside a parking lot during the riots.
In 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe became the first spacecraft to reach Pluto, completing its main mission.
New Horizons also became the fifth space probe to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave our solar system.
Queen Elizabeth II makes history
On September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II thanked people from around the world for their messages of “great kindness” as she marked the day by becoming the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
In the fall of 2017, an explosive New York Times exposé revealed the alleged details behind acclaimed film producer Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior.
Actress Rose McGowen bravely shared her story of assault involving the Hollywood titan. This led to a domino effect of other women speaking out against sexual assault and harassment – ushering in the transformative #MeToo era.
Notre-Dame de Paris fire
On April 15, 2019, a structure fire broke out beneath the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. This has been described as one of the worst cultural disasters in modern history.
By the time it was extinguished, the building’s spire and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls severely damaged. Extensive damage to the interior was prevented by its stone vaulted ceiling, which largely contained the burning roof as it collapsed.
On December 25, 2019, for the first time since the French Revolution, the Notre Dame Cathedral did not host Christmas services.
Greta and the environmental movement
There’s no generation with as much at stake when it comes to the negative effects of climate change as Generation Z. Their future is tied to the planet … and they are up to the task of protecting it.
Greta Thunberg recently became a global phenomenon who is inspiring young people to protest against climate change. And she is doing a great job so far … so great that she earned the title of 2019 Person of the Year by Time Magazine.
She is the youngest person to ever receive this honor.
Afghan War documents leak
Back in July of 2010, WikiLeaks published more than 90,000 internal U.S. military logs of the War in Afghanistan. The documents revealed numerous cover-ups and the absence of trials for captured or killed Taliban members by the coalition.
That was only one of the many cyber security incidents that took place during the 2010s. Many cases including hacking, leaks, or theft of sensitive information and gained the increased attention of governments, corporations, and individuals during this past decade.
China's rover pictures from the dark side of the moon
China successfully landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in 2019, marking a world first during the 2010s.
This was an extremely significant moment in space exploration history, as it was the first time humans landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
China’s lunar rover nabbed the first surface photos of the moon’s “dark” side, another first as far as worldwide feats go.