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The millennium will not usher in an entirely new world overnight. Just as Europe remained mired in the Dark Ages for centuries after the first millennium came and went, so will our society require many years to experience deep change, a change that transcends the processor speed of the box on your desk. Contrary to predictions made in the year 1900, our cars do not fly in the year 2000, world hunger persists, and disease runs rampant. Humanity changed little in the last 100 years because humanity changes slowly. As we watch Discover Card sponsor Times Square 2000 and M&M’s try to profit off their fortuitous name, we see that nothing has changed at all.

More than anything, the year 2000 has been used as a scapegoat for declining morality and as a buzzword glorifying the fast pace of technology, the stress of life, and the downsizing of unskilled labor. The next millennium will be what we make of it. While I believe the world is becoming a better place, there is also much to be concerned about; neither our problems nor our cures have anything to do with changing millenniums.

It is a well-known axiom that knowledge is power. New technologies like the Internet, cell phones, and satellite TV have succeeded in making the world smaller. Everyone immediately knows events that occur anywhere on the globe. This information can make you money in the stock market, be the lifeblood of the newspaper business, or provide necessary government information. By bringing people closer together and making countries and peoples interdependent, technology may make war more costly and thus contribute to peace.

However, one must not watch the world change; one must change with it. As Bob Dylan sang: “Your old role is rapidly aging, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a changin’.” Technology is not a convenience; it does not make our lives less stressful or give us more free time. Initially, we might think this, but soon the technology that was once a convenience becomes a necessity. At one time computer literacy was a bonus to employees, now it is a requirement. At one time, email was a nice way of contacting long distance friends; now it is an essential component of the modern workplace. Factory work and other blue-collar professions are falling by the wayside and in their places are armies of technological positions. Sacred Heart is on the cutting edge of this new technology, even going so far as to require students to purchase a notebook computer. This is the type of thing that will give Sacred Heart students the advantage in the job market of the new millennium.

Assuming that education is no longer a stumbling block and that the average person can learn the new technologies, I believe we can look forward to many advancements in the future. Already our everyday lives are changing with inventions like EZ-pass. This theory could be taken to the next level over the course of this new millennium. By the year 2100 all transactions should have an EZ-Pass lane for quicker and easier transactions. Companies like eWallet are already providing the EZ-Pass of the Internet to provide one-click shopping for everything. Ecommerce will only become more important in the next millennium as companies like Amazon and CDNow compete with giant retailers like Wal-Mart and Macys.

Aside from technological advancements, we will hopefully see changes in our environment. As all forms and catalogs become available over the Internet there will be less of a need to destroy trees to create paper. As online shopping becomes mainstream there will be less reasons to drive around town wasting gas and polluting the air. However, at the same time, there is less and less reason to see people or to interact with them in a real way. This is a potentially dangerous consequence of our fascination with “virtual” shopping, chat, and surfing. While I see many positive changes that could occur in the next millennium, we should not expect utopia. What we will see is a slow evolvement into a faster and more efficient society.

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