The Spirit of the Times


Photo Credit: Devon Smith

Protesting has become part of our American culture, and will definitely factor into the zeitgeist of both 2018 and 2019.

McKenna Johnson, Managing Editor

Zeitgeist. The spirit of the times. A word of german origins, yet it means something so sacred to the American people. Thinking about zeitgeist is a way for us to look back at all of the things that made 2018, 2018. It is a word that makes us laugh and cry, feel joy and pain. When we think of the zeitgeist of 2018, we think of all the big stories that stood out, and what people will remember about this unique time period.

As we look to 2019, we are looking forward to a special spirit of the times. 2019 will be the last year of the 2000-teens. What will this ‘last teens’ year contribute to our era’s name? For example, the 1920s are remembered as the roaring 20s. You have the swinging 60s, and the naughty 90s. There have been names thrown around to sum up the zeitgeist of the 2010s, but no broad consensus yet.

Zeitgeist was first coined in 1807 when an philosopher proposed his theory that history could be predicted by looking to the past. The spirit of the ages would direct future histories and could be traced back to the old. Since then, zeitgeist has become a phenomenon, embodying cultural and dialectical progression among several communities such as the Spanish, Dutch, English and Japanese.

Focusing on the American community, there is no time like the present. What will 2019’s ghost bring? And what will carry over from the ever-controversial 2018 spirit?

There are many places you can surf the internet to find the answer to these questions. Google releases their annual year in review video, and the New York Times even puts out a special student news quiz.

After looking at both, there are many topics sure to push their way as we move through 2019. Donald trump’s administration doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the next year, and neither are our chief’s tweets.  Gun violence and mental health are also pressing topics, along with the more long term climate change, foreign policies and the youth’s love of protesting. Fiona Martinez, a junior Boise High student, weighs in on the gun control issue, saying “I think gun violence is a prevalent topic in the US currently. Considering that gun laws haven’t changed recently, 2019 is likely to still be a year of debate and suffering due to continuing gun violence.”

Zeitgeist is important for everyone to understand, as it influences everyone. Ms. Weisensel, an AP English Language Comp teacher here at Boise High agrees that understanding zeitgeist can be a ‘powerful tool’. She says, “We can be subconsciously influenced in both positive and negative ways by the cultural moment.  If we take time to think about how the spirit of the times is influencing our mood and actions, we can make more wise individual choices about how we respond to and participate in creating the zeitgeist.”

Among the serious topics that became problematic in 2018, the number of feel good and uplifting stories gave us hope for similar ‘faith in humanity’ type stories to appear in 2019. Between the Thai soccer team cave rescue, unity through the olympics, and all the little gems in between, there is hope yet for 2019.

2019 is already upon us, but we still have nearly 11 more months to go. This year as you go about your days, keep in mind that the spirit of the times is watching, and whenever you are lost, you simply need to look back at history for the spirit of the times to point you in the right direction.