Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
A lot can happen in 10 years’ time, and it seems like the 2010s brought rapid changes to every aspect of culture and life. Look no further than the cell phone. According to the Pew Research Center, in January 2010, 80% of American adults had a cell phone. As of February 2019, an astounding 96% of American adults owned one of these devices, and 81% owned a smartphone. To establish exactly how much life has changed over the past 10 years, we took a look at Google Trends from 2009 to now as well as the pop culture trends, news stories and technological advances that shaped the way we work, play, eat and live.
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Though online dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony have been around since the beginning of the last decade, online dating went from a last resort to the primary way to meet a new partner this decade. Thank the launch of mobile dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. According to a Stanford study, as of 2017, more people meet love interests online (39%) than through family (7%), friends (20%) or co-workers (11%). In 1995, just 2% of couples met online.
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The Amazon Echo launched in 2014, and since then Google Home, Apple HomePod, the Galaxy Home and other smart speakers hit the market and arrived in our homes. These voice-activated smart speakers can answer questions, stream music and control everything in your house from your lights to your TV. While a little cylinder that listens to you and runs your household would have sounded like something straight out of “The Jetsons” up until recently, today, over 25% of households have one of these devices.
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Some of today’s biggest pop stars, like Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and 5 Seconds of Summer, got their start on YouTube and Vine. Big, flashy music videos on MTV are so yesterday, while the ability for a song to be turned into a meme makes a hit. Some of the decade’s biggest songs, like “Old Town Road,” “Harlem Shake” and “Gangnam Style,” got big thanks to Vine, TikTok and other meme-generating sites.
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Craft beer has seen substantial growth in the 2010s. According to the Brewers Association, there were over 7,300 craft breweries in 2018, compared to just 3,814 in 2014. Breweries like Bell’s, Russian River, Hill Farmstead and Founders were relatively unknown players at the start of the decade but have since set the standard for sippers across the country as people ditch light lagers for double IPAs, sours and stouts.
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Marriage equality was established in the United States in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled that statewide bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional in its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Generally speaking, members of the LGBTQ+ community and identities like pansexual, transgender and non-binary are more visible. Gender-neutral pronouns and the idea that there are more than two genders is also gaining traction. In fact, “they” was named Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2019.
Despite the decade being dubbed “the golden age of television,” fewer people are subscribing to cable TV than ever. According to a study by eMarketer, 33 million Americans have ditched cable completely. Instead, people have flocked to video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, HBO Now and Disney+. Meanwhile, 170.1 million Americans subscribe to a streaming service.
TV wasn’t the only medium that turned to streaming this decade — album sales plummeted in the 2010s as streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and Pandora debuted and changed the way we listen to music. The top album of 2009, Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” sold over 3 million copies and streaming was not factored into its sales. Meanwhile, the top-selling album of 2018, Swift’s “Reputation,” was the only album in two years to sell over 2 million units.
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According to research and consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, 40% of the American workforce now works remotely at least one or two days a week, and there's been a 40% increase in employers that offer flexible workplace options in 2019 compared to 2014. Office spaces have also become more collaborative places, with open-concept spaces instead of cubicles and perks like free lunch, coffee and relaxation areas becoming the norm.
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The rise of Wi-Fi and smartphones means that telecommuting is easier, but it also means that it’s harder to go off the grid and truly disconnect from work. According to a 2018 survey by Glassdoor, 61% of employees reported working while on vacation, 24% of people were contacted by coworkers and 20% were contacted by their boss while using their paid time off.
Standing in the pouring rain and trying to hail a yellow taxi cab is no longer how we grab a car. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft were launched at the start of the decade, and have since become more popular than old-fashioned taxis. According to the New York Daily News, for instance, there were 445,000 yellow cab rides in NYC per day in July 2013; in 2018, there were just under 300,000 yellow cab rides per day in the city while Uber and Lyft had nearly 500,000 rides. Uber and Lyft are also indicative of the new gig economy, where people pick up side jobs like driving cabs or turning a crafty hobby into a job to make ends meet as living costs rise.
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Look no further than your Facebook or Twitter feed to see how divided politics have become in America and across the world. And the research backs that up. According to the Pew Research Center, the partisan divide on basic issues like race, immigration, how to help the needy and environmental regulation are wider than ever before and Democrats and Republicans are more ideologically different than they were in the ‘90s and 2000s. Engaging with those on the other side of the aisle is also more difficult than ever. In a separate poll, 64% of Republicans told the Pew Research Center that Democrats are closed-minded, while 75% of Dems said the same about those in the GOP.
Low carb diets like keto and paleo gained steam as ways to lose weight, and replacements like cauliflower pizza crust are now commonplace at fast food restaurants, such as Blaze Pizza. It was a bad decade for wheat products, too. Gluten-free diets were primarily adhered-to by those with celiac disease or a wheat allergy a decade ago, but people claiming to have gluten sensitivity rose in the early part of the decade and continued.
What’s old is new again. Many of the highest-grossing movies of the decade, such as “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7” were remakes, rebooted franchises or sequels. Disney really dove into this trend, reworking its animated classics like “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” into live-action films. TV also saw its fair share of rebooted series. ‘90s classics like “Full House,” “Roseanne,” “Will and Grace” and “Twin Peaks” all returned to TV or streaming services in various, new-ish forms.
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Smoking has declined since the turn of the century. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20.9% of adults smoked cigarettes in 2005 compared to 13.7% in 2018. While traditional tobacco use is on the decline, e-cigarettes (where you inhale nicotine through a battery-powered aerosol device) are on the rise. Despite an unknown health impact and mysterious illnesses and deaths, vaping is on the rise, especially among teenagers and young adults. According to the 2019 University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, 40.5% of high school seniors had vaped nicotine at least once, and a quarter of them had done so in the last 30 days.
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Remember driving around after moving to a new town and popping into Chinese restaurants, pizza parlors and taco joints to get paper menus so you can make a phone call and order in? Those days are long gone. The rise of ride-sharing and technology has also changed the way we get fast food. Smartphone apps like GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats mean you can scroll through all the food options in your neighborhood at once.
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As climate change becomes a growing concern for young adults, the use of single-use plastic products like disposable water bottles, straws and grocery store bags have come under scrutiny. After a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nose went viral, massive corporations like Starbucks and Disney theme parks and cities like Seattle, San Francisco and Portland enacted bans on plastic straws.
Knowing when and how to take “me time” became increasingly popular near the end of the decade, with Google searches for terms like “self-care” and “wellness” surging in the winter of 2019. Taking time out to destress by meditating, taking time for your hobbies or going to therapy in an attempt to live a more peaceful life is becoming an important part of self-improvement.
If you didn’t post a picture to Instagram or Facebook, did you even eat that brunch or take that trip to Disneyland? Social media sites have changed the way that we travel and eat, with Instagrammable destinations like national parks becoming must-visits. Photogenic dishes like smoothie bowls, massive milkshakes and avocado toast were unheard of a decade ago but turned into some of the biggest food trends of the 2010s.
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