The hardest thing about living through a turn of a century, let alone a turn of a Millennium, is that it is serious business. It isn't just a throwaway fact. 9/11 and the recession should have been a warning, a demand for some soul-searching. But even through the economic downturn, I know loads of people who have superficially surfed the wave of change with enthusiasm, and with scant consideration for what is going on around them. And, on the basis of their ability to go unfazed, they have really profited! But if one is sensitive at all to the deeper meanings in things, then it becomes difficult to absorb all that is happening. It is like having the volume turned up to maximum on everything, and the noise becomes debilitating.
In addition, many things are lost forever, and quickly. Anything suddenly and arbitrarily consigned to the dustbin of history becomes impossible to hold on to: there is no going back. Commonplaces of 15 years ago are unheard of today. The same goes with people and history.
You might see a Gen Y diatribe against the late Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, totally dismissing him as a product of the evils of the 20th century, in a way that would have been unheard of a few years ago, even from his critics. A friend of mine was recently talking to a guy in his early 20s. The latter had never heard of Alfred Hitchcock or Joan Rivers. I hyperlinked them, because I figure there are other people out there who have never heard of them, either.