But there was some consolation in the knowledge that others would be making even bigger messes that year, the consequences of which still have major effects upon our lives (sort of like become a parent).
Not only did 1989 end the way-cool 80s, but the events of that year did much to bring an end to a world order which had existed since the end of the Second World War. We saw the Cold War end as Solidarity swept Polish polls that were rigged to be Solidarity-proof, mobs destroyed the Berlin Wall, and Red Army forces crawled out of Afghanistan. While it would be a little while longer before we'd see the Soviet Union itself disssolve with barely a whimper, heroic Afghan rebels turn into Al-Queda jihadists, or the Simpsons become the longest-running show in TV history, this was the year that made those things possible.
Time Magazine takes a look back at that year that changed everything:
Historians, picking over what has gone before, revising past judgments, will tell you that our understanding of the past is never final. What were thought to be world-changing events dim into topics of an obscure Ph.D. thesis; what seemed to be small stories turn out to be the ones that shaped the future. All is relative.
Yet 1989 truly was one of those years that the world shifted on its pivot. Some things did change, and changed utterly; we are living with their consequences still. Some things ended, too — not just communism as a state practice, for example, but also the idea that the international system is driven solely by state action. In a way that was only dimly perceived 20 years ago, elements such as multinational business, technological innovation and personal faith now shape our world just as states do.
Whatever the importance of events after 1989, the year itself is one for the ages.