The end of the ’10s

Ten years in review: The moments and trends that have defined Generation Z. As 2019 draws to a close, we reflect on what defined the 2010s

Diana Pyle and Danae Suarez

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Over the past ten years, a lot has changed.

With the development of most social media apps and websites in the late aughts and early ‘10s, American society has transformed seemingly overnight. As we grew up, we grew more connected to the world around us.

The beginning of the decade saw the invention of Instagram and the smartphone takeover. These technological advances and influx of apps influenced society by transforming how we communicate, in addition to creating trends that united people worldwide.

In a way, we’ve gone from watching Disney movies to posting pictures on Instagram with the caption “#stayfierce.” Now the iGeneration is starting college and even families in the coming years.

The increased use of social media has also led to renewed political awareness, giving way to major changes that affect immigration, abortion and gay marriage. These broad evolutions in society and general perspective have laid the groundwork for the next decades of change.

Younger generations have also become more involved with politics with the advance of worldwide communication. Issues like gun control, climate change, and immigration dominate  lunchroom conversations. 

Increased school shootings, global warming and the fear of deportation have become very real scenarios that Gen Z will have to face.

Another example of the rapid transition our society is facing is the advent of online shopping and e-commerce. The days spent shopping in malls and stores are falling fast behind us as we move toward online-based retail options. Over 10,000 malls and stores have shuttered their doors in the past ten years, and according to BusinessInsider, close to 25% more will meet the same fate by 2022. 

The changes brought unto us in the past ten years have drastically altered the way we conduct daily life, and at the rate we’re going, the same will be true next decade.


In the News

  • January 12: A magnitude 7 earthquake destroys Haiti, killing more than 160,000 people
  • April 20: Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes, killing 11 and causing an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • December 22: President Obama repeals the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

Pop Culture

  • Angry Birds app becomes most popular game in App Store
  • Invention of the iPad
  • Instagram is founded
  • One Direction is formed on X-Factor by judge Simon Cowell.



In the News

  • March 11: Magnitude 9 earthquake strikes east of Japan, causing a tsunami to devastate the country. The Fukushima Nuclear Reactor was destroyed, leading to the second worst nuclear accident in history.
  • May 2: Osama Bin Laden is killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan.
  • October 31: The world population reaches 7 million.

Pop Culture

  • “Game of Thrones” premieres on HBO
  • Kim Kardashian has her infamous 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries.
  • Prince William marries Kate Middleton, and the wedding is broadcast across the world.



In The News

  • July 26: The London Olympics begin, opened by Queen Elizabeth II. American swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian in history after winning six medals for the U.S.
  • November 6: The 2012 election showcased Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The election ensured Obama another four years.
  • November 19: President Obama visits Myanmar, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.
  • December 14: Twenty school children and six adults are shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Pop Culture

  • Gangnam Style becomes the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube.
  • Whitney Houston dies
  • The Hunger Games comes to the box office
  • Mayan Calendar “end of the world”



In The News

  • April 15: The Boston Marathon Bombing kills 5 people and injures more than 200.
  • June 6: Journalist Edward Snowden exposes thousands of documents detailing the NSA’s surveillance through phones and internet use. 
  • December 5: Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and civil rights activist, dies.

Pop Culture

  • The Harlem Shake is the social media trend of the year, with thousands of videos being uploaded per day at the height of its popularity in February.
  • “Frozen” becomes the highest grossing animated film of all time, and a world-wide sensation.
  • On its release day in September, “Grand Theft Auto V” earned over $800 million, making it one of the highest grossing video games of all time.



In The News:

  • March 8: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears, along with the 239 people aboard. The plane was never recovered.
  • March 23: The Ebola Outbreak starts in West Africa and takes two years to contain.
  • August 9: Protests break out in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man. The riots and protests lasted for more than three months.

Pop Culture

  • The Ice Bucket Challenge is the trend of the summer
  • Comedian Robin Williams dies
  • Kim Kardashian appears on the cover of Paper magazine to “Break The Internet”



In The News

  • January 18: The New England Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts, and the Patriots are accused of under deflating footballs. The scandal is referred to as “Deflategate.”
  • June 26: The Supreme Court allows same-sex marriage nationwide.
  • November 30: The Paris Climate Agreement is drafted in Paris, France, and is signed by 195 countries, including the United States.

Pop Culture

  • The musical Hamilton becomes the musical phenomenon of the year, making over $30 billion in ticket sales.
  • Hotline Bling by Drake becomes a meme, with social media users reposting edited videos of the singer in different places.
  • “The Force Awakens,” the first Star Wars movie in 10 years, is released and met with great reception.



In The News

  • March 20: President Barack Obama becomes the first president to visit Cuba since 1928.
  • June 12: The Pulse Nightclub shooting becomes the then-deadliest mass shooting in America’s history.
  • November 8: Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States, facing Hillary Clinton.

Pop Culture

  • Beyonce releases her album, “Lemonade,” beginning a fan conspiracy of her relationship with husband Jay-Z.
  • In the fall, ominous clowns were spotted across the world, causing mass panic. The incident began in the U.K. However, with the aid of social media, it became a worldwide situation.
  • Harambe, a gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo, is killed and becomes an unlikely worldwide meme.



In The News

  • January 21: The Women’s March, aa worldwide rally for women’s rights, is the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, totalling over 3 million participants. There were protests on every continent, including Antarctica.
  • August: Over 600,000 Rohingya muslims flee from Myanmar in response to ethnic cleansing.
  • October 1: A gunman opened fire from the 32 floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the strip below.

Pop Culture

  • On the first day of the year, a vandal put up tarps to alter the O’s in the Hollywood sign to spell “Hollyweed.”
  • At the Academy Awards, “La La Land” was announced as best picture of the year, though the award was meant for “Moonlight.”
  • Beyonce announces she is pregnant with twins, named Rumi and Sir.



In The News

  • March 24: The March For Our Lives gathered more than 200,000 in Washington, D.C. The demonstration advocated for  gun reform and took place shortly after the Parkland shooting. It was the largest youth-led protest since the 1970s.
  • June 12: President Donald Trump becomes the first U.S. president to visit North Korea with  a meeting with Kim Jong-Un
  • November 23: The United Nations estimates climate change will raise the planet’s temperature by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040, leading to rising sea levels, wildfires, drought and floods.

Pop Culture

  • The “In My Feelings” Challenge began after Drake released the song, and Instagram user theshiggyshow recorded a video of himself doing a dance to the music. It spread over the summer and evolved into getting out of a moving car to do the dance.
  • “Incredibles 2” renewed the childhood of many and had the highest opening weekend for an animated film, at 180.2 million dollars.
  • Cardi B threw a shoe at Nicki Minaj at a New York Fashion Week party, and beef ensued in both their social media accounts and music.



In The News

  • March 15: A gunman killed 50 people and injured 50 more at a Mosque in New Zealand. Six days later, the country passed a ban on semi-automatic and assault rifles.
  • April 15: A fire burns the roof and spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The 850 year old building was lit aflame due to either an electrical malfunction or burning cigarette.
  • September 24: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announces the House of Representatives is launching an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The inquiry surrounds a whistleblower complaint about a phone call Trump had with Ukraine.

Pop Culture

  • The app TikTok, formerly known as, attracts hundreds of thousands of users, becoming a sensation.
  • “Avengers: Endgame” becomes the highest-grossing film of all time, beating “Avatar” and “Titanic.” The movie grossed more than $2.7 billion worldwide.
  • “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X spends 19 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving it the record for most weeks spent on top of the chart.