Up To Speed Journalism Noughties Competition

Last Updated on July 8, 2023, 11:51 pm

To mark the end of the first decade of the new Millennium, Up To Speed ran a features writing competition open to students from university newspapers all over the UK.

Robin Morgan, from Cardiff University’s Gair Rhydd, won the Third Prize of £50 with this entry.

The Noughties:

‘Has it been a decade of despair or the dawn of an exciting new era?’

The date is 31st December 1999. It’s coming up to midnight. I’m standing on my street, a full glass of champagne in hand (I’d only sipped at it, I hate the bloody stuff), and I’m linking arms with people I only vaguely know from when I’ve kicked my football against their car and apologised, hurriedly.

I was ten years old, in my defence. Not some social delinquent who attacks transport with sports equipment. Although I won’t speak too soon, maybe fifty years from now I’ll be writing a similar essay on how that game has made it into the Olympics. Probably not.

The noughties did start out in that fashion, for me at least. Personally, the decade saw me grow into the ‘man’ I am. Note the inverted commas. I’m not particularly manly. This decade, I failed my driving test, went to high school, did my GCSE’s, A-levels, went to university, moved out of my parent’s house, and kissed a girl. And I liked it.

They weren’t done in that order, just to clarify. In my personal sense, of course this decade was exciting – I was growing up. I’ve got so many stories to tell, and more that I’ve forgotten. But it started out so badly.

Exhibit A: The ‘Noughties’. Are you serious? We’re dictating a decade to history as the camp, playful, tomfoolery ridden era, which epitomised the late 90s. Sure, I was a kid. But I also dressed up as Scary Spice in a Year 6 event. Camp, playful, and f***ing mortifying. I still don’t understand why my Mum allowed me to do that.

I’ve had countless more experiences that still jolt to the front of my mind when I’m trying to get to sleep. I think that’s just how my brain works. Reminds me of my failures. Don’t worry; this isn’t the formation of a suicide note. I’ll find out if I’ve won the £250 first. No pressure…

What have we seen in this decade? What technological, medical and social advancements have been made over the past ten years? No, bollocks to that – we’ve had Deal or No Deal. This premise seemingly gave birth to the rebirth of the love of the game show. And gave a plethora of stand-ups a chance to bash Noel Edmonds all over again. Years of hard-worked material instantly back up for use. Exciting, or despair? You be the judge.

In all seriousness though (and these are rarities in this essay, as I’m sure you can tell), the main talking point of the Decade That Shall Not Be Named is something has probably gone under the radar. It’s importance to global politics, international relations and social reasoning is unrelenting and unrivalled, yet none of us really know about it.

This might come as a shock to you – it certainly did to me – but there is something called The Internet that has shaped the last ten years in a way that only I will in the next ten. It gave democracy and the freedom of speech, to idiots.

Exhibit B: YouTube. Or to be more precise, the comments section of YouTube. This is where I pretend to be a lifeguard, saving the poor folk who are drowning in the gene pool. They are drowning, my good friends, because they are idiots.

I was forced, by the nature of comedy, to sign up for an account on YouTube, just so I could reply to one person’s post. On a video of two gentlemen who were rapping, one man had sophisticatedly informed people that “Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder are the biggest rappers in the UK right now.”

There was one problem. He had spelt ‘rappers’ with one ‘P’. Acting on instinct and my abilities as a Grammar Nazi, I quickly signed up and clicked to ‘Reply’ to his post.

The ‘reply’ function on YouTube is flawed. When you ‘reply’ to something, it doesn’t inform people what you have ‘replied’ to. It just shows your ‘reply’ as a standalone comment, floating around in the stupidity pool, trying to stay above water.

So therefore, on a video of two rappers, I had apparently said, off the top of my head, completely unprovoked, that they had both committed a terrible crime, when all I was trying to do was correct a spelling mistake and protect their names!

This was at the latter end of this decade called the Noughties, I should’ve learnt from my mortified mistakes nine years ago!

I thought I would just ignore it. Wrong again. I got an email instantly, not ‘replying’ to my post, but sending me a private message informing that I was making serious allegations.

Of course I didn’t reply. I closed down my account and I haven’t commented on a YouTube video ever since. I must have seemed like a ‘boy who cried wolf’, but didn’t even get the few weeks of fun when people believed me.

But this is what I’m trying to portray to you. The awkwardness of my life has, undoubtedly, dictated this soon-to-be-supernova of a decade as one of despair, of social embarrassment, but of stories that I can hopefully portray as sweeping generalisations that we’ve all been through.

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