Life Timeline

For those born December 7, 1981.

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1980
Before you were born

You're one of the first people who's never lived in a world without the 24-hour news cycle.

In October 2009, Mark Bowden wrote about the toll of constant coverage.

1981
Year 36

You were born in December of 1981. This year, The Atlantic celebrates its 160th birthday, making it 4 times as old as you.

The year you were born, William Greider wrote about the incoming budget director's experiences working in the Congressional Budget Office, in a revealing article which set off a firestorm of controversy in and around the Reagan administration.

1981
Beginnings

Around the time you were born, Spain was formally invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In August 2016, Jeffrey Tayler wrote about the perils of unchecked NATO expansion.

1994

Mark Seliger / ABC via Getty

The teenage years

This is what Hollywood thought teenagers looked like the year you became one.

My So-Called Life premiered in 1994.

1998
Half a life ago

Your life can be divided into two halves: before and after Google.

In the July/August 2008 issue, Nicholas Carr wondered whether Google was making people stupid.

1999
Coming of age

Around your 18th birthday, the Exxon-Mobil merger was completed, resulting in the largest oil corporation in the world.

In March 2015, Moises Naim wrote about the surprising political and economic effects of cheap oil.

2001

Jason Redmond / AP

The 9/11 Attacks

At 19 years old, you were part of the generation most shaped by 9/11.

The conflicts and displacements touched off around the world by the attacks have been reverberating for the majority of your life. “This ‘war’ [on terrorism] will never be over,” wrote James Fallows, a few years after the towers fell.

2010

Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

The Arab Spring

When you turned 29, you witnessed the revolutionary fervor that transformed the Arab world in 2010, a movement led by your generation.

When 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, he ignited a tinderbox of protests that continue to roil the Middle East, and kindled the beginnings of democracy in Tunisia.

2016

Corinne Dubreuil / FFT / Reuters

Contemporaries

In 2016, Serena Williams, who was born the same year as you, won her 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, tying Steffi Graf for the most major championships in the Open era of professional tennis. She went on to break that record the following year, when she secured her 23rd title.

In July 2016, Vann Newkirk II wrote about the significance of William's win and her position as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

2025
Forecasts

By the time you turn 43, the World Bank predicts that the U.S. dollar will lose its global dominance.

In February 2012, Charles A. Kupchan wrote about the world's emerging economies, and how the world will look by 2050.

Today
History in the making

History is happening all around you, every day.

The Atlantic is here to help you process it, in stories like these: