Generation Z is clueless about life in the 80s and 90s; sometimes, boomers must remind them what they missed out on! Whether manually rolling down car windows or embracing the beauty of internet-less computers, it was a simpler time. Recently, older generations met in an online discussion to reveal everything from the 80s and 90s that Gen-Zers would be blown away — or confused — by!
Black and White Tvs Were Common
Monochrome televisions were popular in the 80s and 90s since color TVs were prohibitively expensive. Gen-Zers have no idea how affordable modern TVs have become in the past few years! “Lots of houses still had black and white TVs in the 80s,” explains one boomer.
“Mainly poor people with their main TV, but even middle-class people often have a little black and white TV that one of the kids would use in their bedroom. I watched the entire original run of Seinfeld in black and white, and that was in the 90s.”
Watching Music Videos
Long before MTV turned into a neverending broadcast loop of Jersey Shore and The Challenge, it was the home to countless music videos that rotated throughout the day. Rushing home after school to catch the premiere of your favorite band’s new music video was a rite of passage for many kids. Nowadays, artists release music videos directly to platforms like YouTube — or even worse, they don’t release videos at all!
Magazines Were Everywhere
While millions of people read every day, it’s mostly done on their phones through apps and websites. The magazine age was a big part of America in the 80s and 90s. Back then, magazines commanded much more than a small section of shelves at the grocery store. The magazine industry was huge, and people were hooked nationwide. It was the best way to read feature-length articles focusing on everything from sports to politics — and everything in between.
Every Photo Taken Was a Mystery
Imagine taking a photo with a camera and then dropping the film off at a photo-printing shop to get developed without knowing if the pictures are good! That, ladies and gentlemen, was life in the 80s and 90s in a nutshell.
“Having to wait to see how your pictures turned out when you went to pick them up was crazy in retrospect,” confesses one woman. “And the disappointment when you got them back when every single one is blurry or otherwise terrible.”
Car Windows Required Muscle
Generation Z has it easy: Nearly every new car manufactured (save for some barebones Jeep Wrangler models) in 2023 has automatic windows. Therefore, most Gen-Zers have no idea how much of a pain in the bum it was to manually roll up or down car windows — especially when driving. Getting caught in a summer rain storm with your windows down meant pulling over to the side of the road unless you had ridiculously long arms!
Fast Food Was Actually Delicious
Although Gen-Zers will almost certainly outlive most of the boomer generation, there’s one thing that youngsters will never know: The deliciousness of McDonald’s fries in the 80s. Their fantastic taste was thanks to an ingredient called beef tallow, which sadly was replaced with vegetable oil in 1990. In comparison, present-day McDonald’s fries taste bland.
Calling a Landline Was an Ordeal
Direct access to your friends via cell phone is a relatively new phenomenon. Calling your friends in the 80s and 90s was a hassle! “You had to call friends at their homes and then probably talk to their mom or dad and make polite talk or, God forbid, their stupid older brother who would razz you while you begged them just to put your friend on the phone,” explains one man. “Don’t get me started on what that was like calling a girl for a date.”
Having a Computer but No Internet
Imagine how maddening it would be if you owned a computer in 2023 that wasn’t connected to the internet. What would be the point? Well, now you know the pain felt in the 80s and 90s. However, ignorance is bliss: the older generation didn’t yet know what the internet could be, so we didn’t mind being disconnected back then.
Missing a TV Show Was Heartbreaking
In the days before VCRs, DVRs, and video-on-demand services, missing an episode of your favorite TV show meant you’d never see it! I’m still salty about missing a pivotal episode of Transformers as a kid. “If you missed the show when it showed on the TV, you didn’t watch it, period,” laments one woman. “You just had to wait and pray it aired again.”
The Knob on the TV Would Break
In the 80s and 90s, you knew you were having a bad day when the channel-changing knob on the front of your TV broke. Luckily, there was a fix — all a person had to do was grab a wrench and change channels with brute force by twisting the channel selector in the right direction. Gen-Z has no idea how lucky they are.
Video Games Were Insanely Popular
If you think video games are popular today, you’d be blown away by the industry’s popularity that was jumpstarted by the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. By 1990, nearly 38% of American households owned a Nintendo console — an astonishing figure that doesn’t even include systems manufactured by gaming giants Sega and Atari!
Bands Were Faceless
Back in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t expected to know what your favorite bands looked like unless they were gracious enough to include a group photo in the liner notes of a cassette or CD! This is in stark contrast to the present day when artists in 2023 are known for their looks and styles just as much as their music.
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Victoria Clarke is a passionate American author with a gift for bringing characters to life on the page. Born in the heart of New York City, she found her voice among the hum of daily life, weaving tales that resonate with the experiences of everyday people. From heartfelt family dramas to the intricate dynamics of modern relationships, Victoria has a knack for capturing the nuances of the human experience in her works.