What's It Like To Live "At The End of an Era"?

“End of an Era” is a phrase that historians like to use. I find it a bit puzzling, because it seems that it divides history into disscrete little packets (i.e. "eras).
What does this mean? Suppose you were an old man living at the end of the “Victorian Era”-which I guess ended with the death of Queen Victoria (1901?).
Would you notice all these violent changes going on? Like (all of a sudden) women wanting to vote, automobiles replacing horse drawn wagons, etc.?
I ask because it seems that we in the USA are living at the end of an era (the economic and political hegenomy of the USA)-how should I prepare for the coming decline?
And, what will tell me when there is “The Start of a New Era?”
Like the “Staempunk” people, I like earlier eras-for me, I’d like to be in the “Jazz Era”-though that ended 80 years ago. Know what I mean, skeezix?:smiley:

“Eras” are a construct imposed after the event. Everyone who ever lived at whatever time they lived felt like they were modern. Victorians had no sense that they only existed so that steampunks could wax nostalgic about the cool brassware. Everywhere is always in transition in one way or another. Even in the middle ages, plagues caused changes and fluctuations in employment and land use practices and the iron laws of economics imposed change even if no-one knew the laws existed.

Did you notice living through the end of the filing cabinet era? The end of the rotary phone era? The vinyl record era? People move from the old to the new because the new promises more for less, and they are enthusiastic to take advantage of that. It is only in hindsight that sentimentality about the lost old ways kicks in.

In the 1890s, New York and other major cities were piled high in horse shit. The car represented rescue from that. It’s only when we can (inaccurately) idealise the past that the nostalgia gains traction. Old ways passed for a reason.

I suspect that to Americans, the end of the US hegemony will feel like lots of cheap, quality stuff coming in from overseas and lots more attention paid to China and India in the news, lots more Asian people around and lots more people learning their languages.

I think that people typically only really notice that it’s an “end of an era” at the time when it’s punctuated with something like losing a war or a law banning something major gets passed/removed. The end of Prohibition being an example, or the defeat of the Confederacy. It was kind of hard to miss that one period of history ended and another began, then.

So perhaps the “watershed moment” that ended the last era and ushered in a new one was 9/11?

Although it didn’t have much to do with America’s decline and China’s rise, though.

Except these eras don’t end with the start of the defining war, they end at the end of the war as everyone notices that the war has transformed everything.

9/11 is more like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that led to WWI than it is to the Armistice that led to the interwar period.

So instead of a manned mission to Mars, or a cure for cancer, we poured the equivalent amount of effort into a futile attempt to remake Afghanistan and Iraq. And when we withdraw from those wars, we’ll look around and notice that we almost literally took a trillion dollars worth of goods and services, piled them up in a heap, and set them on fire. And then we’ll wonder why America seems to have fallen behind.

How about me? I’m an “Art Deco Era” guy, stuck in 2010-my “era” ended 70 years ago!

We don’t get much traffic, and the kids can play in the street.