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30 Ways Life Has Changed Since 2000 That You Haven't Noticed

A lot can happen in 18 years.

The year 2000 does not sound that long ago. But consider this: If it were the year 2000 right now and you dialed back a time machine 18 years, you'd land squarely in 1982. (Yes, in a world long before the Internet, in which Michael Jackson was gearing up to release "Thriller" and the movie E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial crushed the box office).

Yes, a lot can happen in 18 years.

Since 2000, a lot of obvious things have changed. Smartphones didn't exist, the Twin Towers in New York still valiantly scraped the sky, Mark Zuckerberg was barely old enough to drive, the airwaves were dominated by Santana and Rob Thomas, and a little-known football player from the University of Michigan named Tom Brady was selected as the lowly 199th pick in the NFL Draft. But a lot of other things changed, as well, which you may or may not have noticed.

Here are the 30 ways your life has been subtly altered since the year 2000. So read on—and to learn more about the constant mutability of life, check out 25 Life Lessons You Learned As a Kid That Are Wildly Outdated Today.

You Don't Memorize Anyone's Phone Number Anymore

Obsolete, landline phones

If you were a teenager (or older) in 2000, you likely had memorized at least 30 numbers—if not more. Heaven forbid you have to use the phone book to call your grandmother! Today, it's not uncommon to meet married couples who have no idea each other's phone numbers. And if you want a peek into the future, don't miss these 25 Crazy Predictions about the Next 25 Years.

Selfies Are Considered Totally Normal

life Changed since 2000s

If you took a time machine back to 1998 and stood in the middle of crowded public square and started brazenly snapping photographs of yourself as if nothing around you existed, everyone would think you're the weirdest and vainest person they'd ever seen before. Today? It's taken for granted as totally normal.

Smoking Vanished from Restaurants Completely

Businessman Smoking Cigarette Anti-Aging life Changed since 2000s

Smoking bans really took off after the year 2000, shifting from a society in which there were "nonsmoking" and "smoking" sections to one where you'd be hard-pressed to find even the dive-iest bar that would permit you to light up.

Kale and Quinoa Changed Our Eating Habits

Kale, Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels life Changed since 2000s

Remember when salads were just "lettuce?" None of the aforementioned vegetables were all that popular in the 90s, but they have become inescapable in the two decades since, whether at healthy lunch places or at high-end restaurants. And for more on healthy eating, don't miss the 30 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism after 30.

Gay Marriage Is the Norm

gay marriage - guys with a bouquet

Before 2000, and really for years after that, same-sex marriage seemed like something that was unlikely to ever happen. And then, as attitudes rapidly changed, it suddenly became a reality. Today, just a few years after it became the law of the land, it seems totally insane that gay marriage was ever once illegal. Oh, and speaking of illegalities, check out this amazing list of 30 Illegal Things Practically Everyone Has Done. 

Vinyl Overtook CDs

Vinyl, secondhand

Music fans used to show off their taste with vast shelves of CDs covering their living room wall. Streaming and download services effectively killed the CD collection, but paved the ways for the return of vinyl, which offer listeners a richer sound and a more focused listening experiences. And you're looking to stock up on some great hits yourself, know that Here Is Every "Song of the Summer" for the Past 50 Years.

"Friend" Became a Verb

Facebook friend request life Changed since 2000s

The idea of "friending" someone on Facebook—and later following them on Twitter or Instagram—introduced a whole new way, passive kind of relationship that did not really exist in the 20th century. With a click of a button you could become someone's "friend." With another click you could express your approval, surprise, or some other reaction to any moment of their life. This type of relationship has now become so familiar we forget how novel it is.

We Take Off Our Shoes When We Fly

guy going through airport security life Changed since 2000s

Just a couple months after 9/11, when the country was at its most jittery, a bad hombre named Richard Reid tried to stash a bomb in his shoe and changed our pre-flight ritual forever after. From that moment on, flyers have had to remove their shoes before walking through scanners, making the security process that much more degrading. And if you're traveling soon, be sure you know the 30 Airport Secrets on Insiders Know.

Meta-Movies Became the Norm

Avengers Summer Blockbusters life Changed since 2000s

Blockbusters have been around since Jaws. But today single movies have fallen out of fashion: Movies have blown up into entire universes.

Now we've got not just Marvel, DC and Star Wars universes, but also a Conjuring universe and talks of a Hannah Barbera universe.

"The Office" Has Become an Abstract Concept

office Facts About Millennials life Changed since 2000s

Thanks to the evolution of technology, meeting software, and more recent development of co-working spaces, it's become less and less necessary to work from an office. Even having one full-time job is becoming less common as workers patch together a handful of gigs and tailor their work to their own lifestyle and travels. If you're interested in becoming a remote worker, consider these 25 Work from Home Jobs with High Salaries.

TV's Became Cheap—and Awesome

Wifi television life Changed since 2000s

If you're adjusting for inflation, a TV in today's dollars would cost $10,000 in 1939. Right now, you can buy something enormous and brilliantly high-tech and state-of-the-art for as low as $350. The downward trend of TV prices really didn't kick into high gear until the flat-panel TV explosion in the 2000s.

We Take Great TV Shows for Granted

Leslie Knope Pot Brownie Funniest Jokes From Parks and Recreation life Changed since 2000s

If someone had told us in 1999 that we'd soon have an endless supply of amazing shows featuring great writing and some of the best actors working—and that we could watch whenever we wanted—you'd think we would never leave the house. (You'd also probably be telling us to be quiet—and that you need to call your roommate to remind him to TiVo "ER.") But many of us simply take the great programming available to us for granted now. We say things like, "There are so many shows these days… Who has the time?"

We're Inundated with "Spoiler" Warnings Everywhere We Go

Pick-Up Lines So Bad They Might Just Work life Changed since 2000s

In the last century, you'd watch a show when it was on or go see a movie in the theater when it came out. You might occasionally find out about a twist ending or surprise reveal before you'd gotten a chance to catch up, but generally if it was something you were invested in, you'd have seen it when everyone else did.

Now, with constant social media commentary and that fact that streaming lets us catch up with shows when we like, just hopping online is stepping into a minefield of finding out big developments we didn't want to know about.

We're Not Allowed to Travel with Water

drinking water on airplane business travel life Changed since 2000s

Remember when we could just cruise right through TSA with a cup of coffee in hand, or a bottle of water in our bag? A fond memory that is no more due to the 2006 terrorist plot to stash liquid explosives in a water bottle. Now we take it for granted that we have to empty any liquids before going through security.

Voicemail Has Gone from Innovation to Annoyance

man on phone Never Buy life Changed since 2000s

We still all have voicemail on our phones, but you're far less likely to leave a message or listen to one now that your phone tells you who called and when. Also, text is easily preferred if a quick bit of information needs to be conveyed.

Life Moved to the Cloud

man on smartphone Life Easier life Changed since 2000s

Backup discs were the way you ensured your information was saved way back in the 20th century. Now, just as streaming has moved media out of our living rooms and into the ether of the internet, so to are our photos, documents, and information more likely to be stored in some intangible cloud than in some hidden safe in our home. Whether it's scary or not, it's definitely the norm.

Online Dating Has Zero Stigma

Tinder, 40s, what to give up in your 40s life Changed since 2000s

Online dating was around in the 90s, and you probably knew a few people who had met through dating websites like But it was more likely to be the exception than the rule. No longer.

Every single person who is not on Tinder or some other dating service is likely to be met with confusion and distrust from others.

We've Gotten Lazier About Spelling

Emojis in a text life Changed since 2000s

Between emojis and autocorrect, we barely need to be literate to communicate via smartphone. When writing a text, we can just pound a bunch of letters with no punctuation and chances are the phone will figure out what we're trying to say. If it needs extra clarification, tossing in a smiley face or eggplant emoji should make everything crystal clear.

A Self-Driving Car Might Be Next to You on the Road

self driving car future life Changed since 2000s

These used to be the stuff of sci-fi novels, but now they're here. Though not quite part of our daily lives (yet), the fact that they exist at all is a pretty seismic change in life compared to two decades ago.

It's Gotten Easier to Be Green

recycling life Changed since 2000s

Being environmentally friendly used to be difficult—the green alternative was often more expensive, less available, or much less fashionable (particularly when talking about cars) than the wasteful thing everyone was already using. Thanks to developments in technology and shifts in culture, each of these obstacles have collapsed, making it easier, cheaper, and cooler than ever to get products that are a little less bad for the planet.

You Are Always Available

Women on smartphones Facts About Millennials life Changed since 2000s

Smartphones make plenty about day-to-day life easier and more convenient, but they also have introduced a new aspect of our daily life: 24/7 availability. We are on call at virtually all times, with emails and texts blowing up our phones and friends, colleagues, and randos expecting that they can get ahold of us at any time. The idea of being unavailable has been slowly disappearing since 2000.

Chefs Are Celebrities

anthony bourdain

It seems hard to believe, but "celebrity chefs" weren't really a thing two decades ago. There was the occasional Wolfgang Puck, but nothing like the name-brand restaurants that have proliferated since.

We Worry About Charging Batteries Much More

mobile charger business travel

Last century, worries about charging batteries were generally restricted to cars and those rechargeable AAs that were big in the 90s. Now, between our phones, laptops, and various other devices, access to an outlet where we can get a charge is almost as vital as access to food and water.

WiFi Is a Necessity

no wifi millennial problems life Changed since 2000s

Same goes with WiFi—something that did not even exist for the average person before the year 2000, but now is a must-have whether you're in a coffee shop, hotel, or basically anywhere else.

Privacy Matters Much Less

instagram life Changed since 2000s

If you'd told us 20 years ago that we would be posting all kinds of personal information, photos, and sentiments in a place where pretty much everyone we know could look at it and comment—and any number of brands could use to sell us on their stuff, it's likely we would be skeptical. But while concerns about privacy continue to pop up, we are far more comfortable with sharing our information than we likely ever would have expected.

Retail Giants Are Slowly Disappearing

50 funniest facts life Changed since 2000s

All the big retail brands we used to see as the enemy of independent shops—Blockbuster, Tower Records, Borders Books, now Toys R Us—have become victims of an Amazon-dominated world. As we bemoaned another Blockbuster was squeezing our favorite independent video store, we never would have thought that we'd feel nostalgic for those blue-and-yellow VHS cases.

Weather Has Gotten Scarier

tornado in texas craziest facts life Changed since 2000s

It's not like there weren't natural disasters before 2000, but the frequency and consistency of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other kinds of extreme weather has shifted from anomaly to normality in a surprisingly short amount of time. With the effects of global warming likely to make this only increase, it's a good time to pick up a few extra sandbags.

Radio Shows Are Back

dj radio station life Changed since 2000s

Well, we call them podcasts now, but audio entertainment, which seemed like a long-gone form of entertainment by the end of the 20th century, has made a major return.

Sure, This American Life was around starting in 1995, but it was still a relatively niche program compared to the powerhouse that podcasts have since become.

The World Has Shrunk

using your vacation days can make you instantly happy Life Has Changed Since 2000

International travel already made it easier to get from one place to another, even the far-flung corners of the world. But with high-speed internet and (often free or really cheap) video chat services, the barriers between even the farthest parts of the world have fallen, making it easy to stay in touch with anyone. The only impediment now is a different time zone.

Everyone's a Producer/Director/Star

fThings You Should Always Do at a Fancy Restaurant life Changed since 2000s

It used to be that you'd need funding or at least access to decent equipment to create a TV show, film, or broadcast. But now that anyone with a smartphone has a high-quality recording studio in their pocket, the barriers to entry have all but vanished.

Anyone can create and share their own work—which has meant there is a lot more stuff out there, but also that you no longer have an excuse not to follow through on that creative project you've talked about for years. And for more on the amazing technology in the world we live, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Smartphone.

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Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more