In Pew's Americans Name the 10 Most Significant Historic Events of Their Lifetimes, my generation unsurprisingly puts the Vietnam War at #1.
So I thought I'd list the ten most consequential events in my lifetime, at least according to me. YMMV. Here goes:
1. Climate change. Nothing out-matters it, for every species and the planet itself. That the topic hardly matters to the species contributing more than any other to climate change does not suggest good outcomes, unless you're rooting for an end to everyone and everything. (Which, in the long run, is a winning bet.)
3. The Vietnam War. Ended the U.S.'s role as a postwar peacemaker and nation re-builder. Started the U.S. on the path of interventionism from which it has too rarely veered since then. Also caused the Sixties, the Generation Gap, Nixon 2.0 and other distractions.
3. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations. Set civil rights back perhaps a century or more. We're still suffering from it. I cannot convey how dispiriting the loss of those leaders was for anybody who worked to escape the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the U.S. Both assassinations also took nonviolence off the table as both a virtue and a strategy. No person or movement of much consequence has picked it up since. And hey, maybe Robinson Jeffers was right in The Bloody Sire: stark violence is still sire to all the world's values. (Interesting data.)
4. The 9/11 attacks. A sucker-punch against the U.S. that worked exactly as its masterminds intended, provoking the U.S. into one war after anotehr. I can't begin to describe all the awful ways this has worked out so far.
5. The personal computer. The first proof that a technology formerly plied only by large organizations in central ways would prove far more useful and beneficial for all when distributed out into the hands of individuals.
6. The Internet. Reduced to zero the functional distance between everybody and everything connected through it, and at costs that round to zero as well. If personal computing was the first shoe to drop, this was the second, because it also proved that a technology once belonging only to central powers was far more useful and beneficial in the hands of everyone.
7. Rock and Roll. A bastard child of rhythm & blues and country & western, it remains the classical music of our time, to be played for centuries hence.
8. Personal data. Of full value only when today's broken B2B market for personal data is replaced by a C2B one, run by customers for their own benefit first and for the benefit of business second. When that happens, the Attention Economy will collapse and The Intention Economy will emerge.
9. 11/9: The Trump election of 2016. Not the man but why. In War and Peace, Tolstly said that history caused Napoleon, rather than vice versa. So perhaps history called forth Trump. As with Napoleon, the consequences will be large and enduring.
10. Watergate. It changed politics and journalism, to name just two institutions, for decades to come, if not forever.