On New Year’s Day, 2000, there was plenty of reason to feel hope for the future. We’d just managed to evade a global computer glitch that was meant to cause, at worst, nuclear devastation and, at best, our toasters to fly off the counter to strangle us with their cords. If even the dreaded Y2K bug could be overcome, then, well, the new millennium seemed like a time of infinite possibility—a time where technology would help usher in an era of cross-cultural exchange, better-informed global citizens, and life-enhancing new inventions.
We don’t need to get into each and every way the last 20 years have betrayed these kind of hopes, but we can recapture the optimistic mood of the new millennium with Nickellennium, a 24-hour documentary aired by Nickelodeon on New Year’s Day, 2000.
Watch through the entire condensed five-hour version or skip around to find a few highlights of what these poor children thought might happen in the future. A lot of them are pretty exciting visions of how things will go. There’s a lot of talk about cool technology they imagine existing or how the problems of the year 2000 will be fully solved in the decades to come.
There are examples, of course, of youthful cynicism, too. Some kids describe how everyone in 2050 will be “sad and gloomy” because of the horrible pollution and a dour child Nostradamus or two predict how computers will take away jobs and damage our sense of human connection. Largely, though, the children think things in general are going to get better, the poor bastards.
It’s important to hang onto some good things throughout all of this. Around an hour and 40 minutes into the documentary, a nine year-old Romanian boy says that his wish is to live on an island with a lot of cats by 2040, taking breaks to go visit discos playing metal music. While we don’t have the cat xerox machine he imagines, we do still have cats and metal in 2020.
If you’d like to recapture some of these kids’ hope for the future, maybe indulge in nostalgia for a little while longer by checking out Y2K Week, our ongoing look back at the year’s culture and entertainment.
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