A look back at the decade that was the 2010s

A year-by-year review of the major news stories and cultural events of the past 10 years.

A look back at the decade that was the 2010s

For students at West High the 2010s will likely be the decade that raised them. Most people have their personalities and opinions carved out while they are young. Things that they may have experienced or events that rattled them, have been the blueprints for building their conscience. So as the curtain closes on this decade, why don’t we reflect on the events that made us individuals.


On April 3, 2010, Apple released one of their most popular products of all time. Since its initial release there have been 7 generations of iPads and 4 different versions, including the aforementioned iPad, the iPad mini, the iPad air, and the iPad pro. A few weeks later in 2010, arguably the worst environmental disaster of all time occurred when the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leaking an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This event affected over 8,000 species of animals and created dead-zones where no creatures could survive because of depleted oxygen. In late 2010 a man in Tunisia named Mohamed Bouazizi self- immolated, but in doing so also sparked a movement across the entire middle east, that came to be known as the Arab Spring. The Arab spring was a movement focused on turning the Middle East into a more demorcratic, free society. The Arab Spring lasted two years, but had mixed results, with Tunisia being the only country to fully implement a democracy.


On April 21, 2011, HBO premiered one of the most popular TV shows of all time, Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones would last 8 seasons and run until 2019. It broke records for viewership and held the record for highest rated TV show on IMDb for years, and is the most pirated piece of media ever. A month later President Barack Obama had likely the most iconic moment of his presidency, when he delivered a speech on national television, announcing the death of terrorist leader and 9/11 orchestrator, Osama Bin Laden. 2011 also saw the end to NASA’s 30-year long space shuttle program, with the final flight being conducted on July 21.


2012 will likely go down as the most iconic year of the 2010’s for one reason; 2012 was the year the world ended. Or at least that’s what many people thought. Because of stories about how the Mayans expected the world to end on Dec. 21, the world went through an event virtually identical to Y2K. Months of build up, then absolutely nothing. 2012 was also a significant for instances of humans doing superhuman things. Usain Bolt set the Olympic record for fastest 100 m race, with a time of 9.63 seconds. Felix Baumgartner also broke records in 2012, when he skydived from an altitude of 24 miles above the surface of the earth. Baumgartner also became the first person to break the sound barrier without using vehicular power and reached a maximum speed of 843.6 mph.


2013 saw Netflix take its first steps towards dominating the streaming industry, with the release of their first ever piece of original content, House of Cards, on Feb. 1. At the time Netflix’s stock was at only $61.75 per share, but in the next four years it would increase 550% in the next four years. Netflix wasn’t the only facet of entertainment beginning to emerge that year however. On Aug. 15, Swedish youtuber Pewdiepie overtook Smosh to become the most subscribed channel on Youtube, a title he would hold for nearly six years. Unfortunately 2013 also holds claim to one of the most infamous moments of the past decade. On Apr. 15 a bomb was detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds. It didn’t dampen the spirits of the country for long, in fact it did the opposite. The entire country rallied behind the city of Boston and the phrase “Boston Strong” became that invigorated the fighting spirit across the entire New England area. 


In major news stories, 2014 was a year of fear and panic. Things really began in February when the Ebola virus broke out in West Africa. With a death rate of 40% panic preyed on the American public when on Sep. 30 the first person in America was diagnosed with the virus. In total this epidemic lasted 3 years and killed over 11,000 people. Then on Mar. 8 one of the most puzzling events events of the 21st century occurred when Malaysia Flight 370 vanished. It has now been almost six years since the disappearance, and yet, still nothing has been found. In 2017 some bits and pieces from what was believed to be an airplane flap were found on a beach in the West Indian Ocean, but they ultimately never led to the discovery of anything new. The most viral event of the year was still to come however. In April the government of Michigan made the decision to start getting the water of Flint, Michigan from Lake Michigan. This decision ended up being deadly, with 12 people dying from legionnaires disease, but what outraged people the most was how up to 12,000 children had been exposed to toxic lead, and how the government of Michigan had effectively tried to cover it up. To this day many Flint residents still don’t trust their own tap water and even though the water was declared safe to drink in mid 2017, the crisis is technically still ongoing.


When compared to the events of the previous year, 2015 might seem like one of the best years ever, and for many members of the LGBTQ community, it was. This is because June 26, 2015 was the day same-sex marriage was legalized in the entire US. The supreme court’s decision was met with mostly overwhelming celebration, and brought joy to millions across the country. 2015 was also one of the most significant recent years for NASA, as they were able to confirm the flow of Liquid water on the planet mars. Water on Mars wasn’t the only significant space-related event of the year. In December, Disney released the first ever sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, With “The Force Awakens.” The movie was a critical and box office smash, going on to gross over 2 billion dollars.


Though 2016 will always be remembered for the hot headed contentious presidential race, that wasn’t the only memorable moment of the year. The Chicago Cubs overcame a three games to one deficit to win their first World Series in 108 years, ending the longest championship drought in North American pro sports. People will always remember election night 2016 for Donald Trump’s stunning victory, but it was also a night of importance for the cannabis industry. Several states legalized recreational marijuana and over 20 legalized medical marijuana. But 2016 will always be remembered for one thing and one thing only; Trump vs Clinton, Democrat vs Republican, Liberal vs Conservative, neighbor vs neighbor, father vs son, the entire country vs itself. For many 2016 was the year politics divided people the most, and everything came to a head the night Donald Trump’s “unorthodox” tactics brought him the presidency.


2017 was a year that climate change came to the forefront of American politics, primarily invited by Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the fact that there were three “100 year storms” in a single summer. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The storms combined killed thousands and had devastating effects that linger to this day. Hurricane Maria ended up being the worst of the three, and is regarded as the worst natural disaster to ever hit the Caribbean. Climate change wasn’t the only major political discussion in 2017 though. In October, Ronan Farrow released an article detailing the sexual crimes of Harvey Weinstein, a move that would quickly spark the #metoo movement, a movement centered around female empowerment and exposing powerful people who had taken advantage of said power in order to get away with sexual crimes. While the movement eventually faced some backlash, it did end up having a positive outcome, with many people facing justice for their crimes. In late December 2016 a new, unprecedented sort of trend went viral; a currency. On Dec. 17 Bitcoin reached a maximum value of $19,783.06. Following this peak it would crash, but eventually it would rebound to around $10,000 in 2019.


2018 was arguably the most significant year of the Trump presidency, at least when it comes to politics. The most important move he made all year was his appointing of Brett Kavanuagh to the Supreme Court. After allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against Kavanuagh, it triggered a weeks long battle over whether or not he should be appointed. The entire battle largely reflected the #metoo and #timesup movements and his success was seen as a failure from those groups perspective. Though not as productive of a moment, Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was a positive symbolic moment, that for some signaled a bright and less tense relationship with the Nuclear frenzied country. However the year wasn’t totally one-sided politically. Most memorable was likely the March for our Lives movement, which stemmed from the governments unwillingness to act on demands for gun control. The movement saw a variety of protests with people marching in the streets, students marching out of schools, people holding die-ins, all of which eventually culminated in a massive country-wide protest against gun violence.


There was one year left before we said goodbye to this decade, but did it live up to the rest? The year started off on an emotional note, when on April 15 the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France partially burned down. The incident was meet with worldwide mourning and billions in donations to help repair the cathedral. But after that initial tragedy, 2019 was the year of several record breaking moments in the arts industries. First, on April 26 “Avengers Endgame” was released, and would go on to become the highest grossing movie of all time. The film would gross a total of 2.798 billion dollars, and though it took 12 years, 22 prior films, and a re-release to reach that mark, they ultimately were able to break the record set by James Cameron’s “Avatar” 11 years prior. The most unexpected hit of 2019 was still to come however. From April to August the number one song in the world was the genre-breaking, ear-worming, smash hit titled “Old Town Road”. The debut single for rapper Lil’ Nas X, it topped the billboard charts for 19 consecutive weeks as somehow managed to even revive the career of Billy Ray Cyrus. 

As this decade comes to a close, people might reflect on what made this decade memorable, but high schoolers will likely reflect on what this decade made them. The 2010s were full of ups and downs, but that’s what it took  to make us who we are.