A lot of things come to an end. The enjoyable PF Changs Spicy Chicken I consumed on Saturday evening ended when there were no more pieces of chicken on my plate. Arnold Schwarzneggar's epic campfest Commando ended when the last screaming junta soldier with an enormous mustache fell haplessly from a tree after being shot. Some people's faith in true love ended when Marilyn Manson's marriage to an equally weird Rose McGowan ended in acrimony. My own admiration for George Lucas ended by the time the eminently repulsive persona of Jar Jar Binks crawled across the screen. So it's clear that many things and beliefs have a habit of coming to an end.
This basic fact of life has been perverted by the obsession that people have with declaring the "end" of a given trend, product, nation, or issue. Part of it is publicity--people want to be the first to declare an old trend over, which is just as important as finding a new trend. There was a remarkably cogent analysis of this tendency in either TechCrunch or Boing Boing, but I am having some trouble finding it in either of their archives (link will be put up later if I can find it).
The problem is this. It is relatively easy to tell when, say, a parrot is dead, despite what Monty Python has told you. After a certain point, it's obvious that a nation is "dead"--like the Holy Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, or the curiously named country of Upper Volta. But since the future, as William Gibson teaches us, is "unevenly distributed," it is difficult to really tell if a large-scale entity or process is really over. We should exercise caution in doing so. After all, where is my jetpack?