Gen-Y Musing: 6 Things 90’s kids will Understand

There are a lot of ways that kids in their early twenties are misrepresented. Not just now but always. When a shift is felt in power from one generation to the next there’s always animosity. The older people feel obsolete, while also thinking they know better than their younger counterparts. This is never actually true. There’s nothing wrong with kids these days, or any days. Right now the accusation for young people is that they are lazy and entitled. It’s bullshit. No group of people have any common personality flaw just because of when they were born.

In the age of the internet, us kids have a channel to fight back through. One odd way this has taken place is 90’s nostalgia. People my age moon over how great things like orange video cassettes and pogs were. Why? because we remember that decade with a child like wonder. That could probably be explained by the fact that we were children. The more I think about it, the more I think the 90’s weren’t all that great. Don’t get your Lion King panties in a twist. Just think about it. How great could they have been? If you disagree, tonight on Nickelodeon there will be a block of programming dedicated to the 90’s. Watch all of it and tell me you really cherished that episode of Doug, and never wanted to change the channel to be rid of his whining. The 1990’s weren’t a fantastic decade, they were just bizarre and we have no way to contextualize them. IT’s still hard to process those 10 years. Here’s a few things I took away from growing up in that weird ass time.

6.) Brand Recognition

It was probably an accident, but I was brought up to be a well versed consumer. I can spot a good product from a mile away. I impulse buy whenever I can, and I google products to be prudent. Money is a love of mine, if only because it gets me access to things. Things are my favorite.

There’s a reason that I loved this short film.

For those of you who can’t take sixteen minutes out of your day for a true work of art, that is an animated movie about a criminal Ronald McDonald. The catch is that every single person, place, and thing in the short are logos. Logorama won the Oscar for short film in 2010 because it was both impressive, and tapped into a vein of western culture that we can all identify with. The movie works because of the emotions we feel when seeing symbols we recognize. Logos are like visual feelings that we’re forced to see everywhere. Watching them on a screen like that outside of their normal context is similar watching an old friend perform just for us.

The fun thing about this personality feature is that I think it will last for a long time. Our ability to recognize barands is only going to get stronger in future generations. The rest of these 90’s kids traits on this list are specific to people my age, but brand awareness is a skill that will only help future consumers. It is an asset for future generations that my peers will rightfully instill in their own children.

5.)  The Last of The Racism

Oh, quit you’re bitching. I’m half black,okay? Half white too. So quit your whining about race. With that being said racism is pretty much over as we knew it. Yeah sure horrible things happen all the time in the United States, and Fox News exists but it’s not at all like it used to be. Racism is a more organizational, more institutional that it used to be. As awful as it may be, right now is the best time to date to be a minority in the United States. Look no further than TV to see difference 20 years can make in race relations. If half the shit that happened to TV black people in 1994 happened to them in 2014, the NAACP be boycotting every major network.

Black Ranger

… and the Yellow Ranger was Asian…

We live in a more tolerant, sensitive time and it’s easy to forget that things were much different not too long ago. The most popular example of this is the show Friends. Six average normal people who not only don’t know any black people but pretty much everyone in New York City was white. That’s nothing in comparison to shows like Homeboys in Outerspace. Shows like that one used stereotypes in the place of plot and characterization. I imagine the writer’s thought process went something like this ” these black men are in trouble, how would they react” and after a few moments of consideration came up with “I’m too young to die…I never got to make love with an 8 breasted woman.”The basest stereotypes hand’t been outlawed by the mainstream yet. Looking at black men as hyper sexualized, or totally omitting latinos hadn’t fallen out of vogue yet. People hadn’t had time to process the LA riots or the mainstream success of rap music. So many in the media were still recycling old jokes on TV and relying on prejudice in place of storytelling.

4.) Cultural Rivalries

Nsync or Backstreet Boys? Tomogatchi or Gigapet?Poo-chi or Furbee? The answers to these questions would tell class mates something about you in my grade school. Of the normal nineties nostalgia this is one of the only things I remember being a part of. My family was too poor to afford a lot of the toys. I wasn’t allowed to watch Power Rangers or other violent shows like Ren and Stimpy. I wasn’t a girl, so I didn’t play with origami fortune tellers, sand art, or MASH books. Even still I liked Nsync and my brother liked the Backstreet Boys. We fought about it. For real.

Surface To Air Missles

Some times it was necessary to defend your taste in boy-band.

While people my age aren’t the first to experience these types of rivalries (see Pepsi v. Coke, Hustler v. Playboy, or Star Wars v. Star Trek) I think we will be the last. Western civilization is a much bigger thing than it used to be. The internet has exploded the pop cultureverse. Now one-on-one rivalries like those are nearly impossible. For all intents and purposes Backstreet and Nsync were the same, same with Pepsi and Coke. We have too many options in things like soft drinks, and sex magazines to single out just two whose fans can argue with each other at the conventions.

3.) Colors

The nineties were a crazy time. Being a child during that roller coaster was an odd phenomenon. The highs and lows of the decade manifested in weird ways. The economic boom years made people think that it was okay to wear shit like tie dye shirts, and these pants. Those crazy ass fashions were concrete examples of a very different era. The odd thing about being a kid in this time is that I had zero to do with it. Shit was totally wild in the 90’s and I bore no responsibility. It was a loud couple of years, and there was a feeling that the wave we rode on would never end.

The terrible 90's

I see nothing out-dated by this photo

As with all things, Americans got over it. The ostentatious culture was replaced with a more sober quieter society. This country was high on the new technology and the economic boom that came with it. The dot com bubble burst at the end of the decade and we calmed down a bit. That was nothing in comparison to the country shattering sedation 9/11 gave to the American people. The carefree unworried nature of us in the 90’s dissipated in favor of a cautious, almost paranoid emotional baseline for this country. In the present day millennials see that high of the 90’s as a part of our own childhood fascination. All of our formative years were glazed with a giddy happiness most of us still can’t understand. Today upbeatness has been replaced with bone-deep cynicism. The hell-scape that was the Bush years didn’t help with that. Our obsession with darkness has shown itself in our usually dark or earth toned clothes as well as the popularity of movies like The Dark Knight and The Hunger Games. Now that millennials are making a difference to our surroundings the duality of the manic happiness we were raised in and the bleakness we came of age in will mix to create something new that is impossible to predict. I’m okay with whatever happens as long as we never wear sweatpants like this again.

2.) Everyday Objects As Toys

A common complaint about millennials is that we are jaded and lazy because of all the technology we’ve been exposed to at a young age. That’s a stupid thing to say. However, it is likely we were affected our outlandish accessories. I don’t think text messaging fucked us up, Lisa Frank did. When I was young I had this notion along with the rest of the culture that a thing couldn’t just be a thing, it also had to be fun. A notebook isn’t just for notes, it’s also a statement. From an unforgivably young age I was given the subconscious message that consumerism was not only a good thing, but that it was a skill to be honed. Wanting a chair wasn’t enough, you also should want an inflatable purple one.

Inflatable Purple Chair

It’s exactly as comfy as it looks

This fascination with with probably has something to do with the present day preoccupation with DIY. We want recycle and repurpose. Sure, there are fewer colors in the shit we make now but it’s the same idea. The kids who were responsibility for the resurgence lava lamps grew up to make lighting fixtures from mason jars or sex toys made from house-hold objects. The Lisa Frank fan in all of us has change the way we look at the word. But that’s not the only way.

1.) The Fear

People growing up in the nineties were the first to be raised with a healthy fear of everything. Sure public service campaigns were around in the seventies and eighties, but by the time Clinton was sworn into office they were integral to pop culture in America. Stranger danger, being set on fire, and house hold cleaning products were just a few of the things I was trained to be terrified of. Not to mention DARE, which was basically a campaigned created to make 8 year olds pants-shittingly weary of any substance harder than caffeine.

Uruk Hai and Child

Best if you treat everything with the same terror as you would the Uruk-Hai.

I remember being young as a time when I was constantly threatened. I had to grow out of my panic. It took effort to teach myself that not everything was going to kill me. This wasn’t easy, because I legitimately believed that I’d be lucky to live to 16 with all the car accidents, amusement park ride malfunctions, and firearm misuses rampant when I was a kid. Or so I was told. The average idle comments made by my parents and their friends would sound like “don’t eat that it will give you diabetes” or “his house has guns. You can’t go over there, he might blow your head off.” Maybe my younger days were particularly fucked up, but fear was like a mentor that taught me how to navigate the world. PSAs and assemblies at school as well as after school special TV shows led me to believe that the world was much more dangerous than it actually is. Yes, there are a few people who probably benefitted from one or two of those lessons but that doesn’t justify mindscrewing an entire generation into being petrified of everyday objects. I should have been given the right to look at a book of matches without picturing my loved ones burning alive.

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Youth Musing: 6 Things Childhood Can’t Help But Teach You

When you were little, things were much different. So radically different in fact that you probably don’t remember it. Don’t believe me? Grab a cup of coffee and a cookie and come back. I’ll wait here.

Now that you’re back, did it even cross your mind how lucky you are to be able to reach your counter? Or, that someone didn’t yell at you, that “dinner is in three hours and you won’t be hungry if you eat that whole sleeve or Oreos?” No. You just ate fifteen Oreos without giving it a second thought.Because you’re a god damned grown-up. In adulthood the only people who attempt to control you are at you are trying to find the fastest way to get into a physical altercation.

Most of my life before I was 9 is a strange confusing blur. I know that time was formative, I just don’t know why. I can’t for the life of me remember what happened to me when I was a kid but I know that it made me who I am today. Still, despite being neurylized by the Men In Black back in 2000 I know there are some very key things that we all are taught by accident. Here’ s just a few of them.

6.) You are inferior

Remember your ex? You know, the one with the giant ego. God, he/she was such an asshole. And his/her mother didn’t help with all that coddling and babying. You and I are are so much better than your ex because someone taught us we’re actually not all that great. Either you lost a Tee-Ball game against your best friend in kindergarten, or accidentally lived a waking nightmare where you left your pants at home before getting on the school bus. Whatever the explanation we know that there’s something that makes us inherently shitty. If you disagree, you’re an asshole.

Sad toddler

Quit your bitching.

Humility is what makes relationships with other people possible. If everyone of us thought that we were all that and a bag of chips, the world would be a cut-throat, competitive place. In order to coexist happily we are required to get over ourselves. Little kids have the luxury of thinking they’re the center of the universe, but once the world crushes their spirit in one way or another the notion of their importance is dispelled. Is this a good thing? Probably not. People with a lot of confidence tend to be more successful, and make more money. That doesn’t change the fact that a certain level of self hatred is instilled in all of us from a  really early age. On a happier note…

5.) You are Loved

Sure, the thing to best recommend you is that you were the fastest sperm in your batch. For some reason people like you anyway. I mean, when was the last time you smiled at a kid? Probably the last time you made eye contact with one. We love kids. They’re enjoyable mini-humans with poop bags taped to them.

Baby coverd in poop

If this was an adult, no one would even make friendly eye-contact.

Even with their screaming in public, and lack of motor skills, we still like children. Even if you never want kids, and are stressed at the idea of having to take care of one, you still like them. They’re cute, mostly agreeable, and you can make them do anything you want. I don’t know about you but those are the qualities of my closest friends. Besides the responsibility the represent to the people taking care of them, and their incessant emotionally, children are awesome. You know it, I know it, they know it. Adults, whether by accident or on purpose end up giving a lot of their youngest counterparts a lot of positive feed back.

4.) There Aren’t Always Consequences For Your Actions

Did you just fart? I can tell. I heard it. You farted, and it was disgusting. And do you know what I’m going to do about it? Nothing, because I can’t. I can’t even see you. There’s nothing inherently wrong with farting. But I’m sure you’ve done actually wrong things that you were never punished for. We all have. And if you’re not a total fucking weirdo, the first time you got away with being a dick was in childhood.

But Nothing happened

Some times nothing will happen, even why you try to make a splash.

No matter what your blabbing parents tell you, they’re wrong. Not every bad thing you do will get you in trouble. When I was in fifth grade I won an unfair bet with a friend. She bet me ten dollars that I would end up fighting my arch rival at school before the end of the month. I didn’t, and I won the ten dollars. I felt awful for taking her money, but did it anyway. I was certain I would get caught by my parents, or teachers, or someone. It never happened. No one cared. No one even knew. I got away with something and felt completely guilty about it. It was an oddly teachable moment. I knew I’d done something wrong  when I took the money from a friend, and I had always been taught that people who did the wrong thing got in trouble. When I got away with it I learned that I could get away with a lot of shit if I just kept my mouth shut. I assume this is the age when people become serial killers. Once you know you won’t get grounded, you start torturing animals or whatever.

3.) You Will Always Be Behind

I’ve never seen Schindler’s List. It’s a massively iconic movie that got Stephen Spielberg his first Oscar win for best director, and I’m not even sure what it’s about. Who’s Schindler? What’s on that list? Is it hilarious? What would it smell like? I have no idea. That is just one thing that I am entirely unfamiliar with.

Liam Neeson Schindler's List still

Did Schindler train Batman to be a ninja!?

You can study and become a Rhode Scholar as well as a  professional athlete if you want to, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to change and alternator. When we’re young they tell us we can be anything we want to be. That’s only true if you stick to doing one or two things. Because no one ever told you that you can be everything you want. For a wide eyed, ambitious kid this may be disappointing, even crushing. This isn’t just a part of growing up, it’s a part of not going insane. As adults we need to learn to keep our interests focused. If you want to duel major in music and theoretical astronomical physics you’ll find out fast that you’ve spread yourself too thin. Being limited is frustrating when your first life goal was to be the moon’s first rock star in an all clone band, but the best way to amount to anything is not trying to amount to everything. So no, I’ve never seen some 1993 oscar winner but that’s okay because I’m gifted in other ways. By always being behind we learn what to be good at, and what to give up on.

2.) You are boring

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I called my internet service provider? Well I called these people, and I needed to tell them that I didn’t use as much bandwidth as they’d said in the bill. So I talked to this woman, her name was Sarah. Sarah told me she couldn’t do anything and she forwarded me to her supervisor. LeeAnne, that’s her supervisor, told me that if I just plugged the ethernet from the house directly into my lap top I would save money. Isn’t that something? I was shocked! Who would have thought things would be so easy? Isn’t that fascinating!

Meh button

This is the default emotion you’ll be getting from age 9, until you die

As soon as you grow out of being the little cute one, people stop caring about you. You no longer get a pass. Instead of being adorable by default, you now have to work in order to be liked. This change in a person’s life marks the time when your personality stops being about yourself, and starts being about what you have to offer to others. The thing being young teaches you more than anything else is that the world will make no effort to give a shit about you. This is a message many have trouble understanding, but it’s invaluable. If you want to make friends, you should take a stab at being likable, or at least have something to offer other people. Realizing you’re boring is the best motivator for being a worth while human being.

1.) Nothing Makes Sense

Movies are awesome. They are short, easy to watch and fun. They are also damaging vicious lies that destroy everything we want to be with their deceit.  Were you hoping your life would be simple, easy to follow, and have clear solutions for your problems that would come at a convenient time. Too fucking bad. Shit is not simple, it’s messy and has a terrible odor. And even when you realize that, there will still be times when you forget.

Confused toddler

“You mean to tell me that everyone poops?”

We think life will be easy to figure out because movies and books make it like a piece of cake. The kind of cake that has a happily predictable ending. If you’re lucky you get shaken of this illusion at an early age. If you’re horribly unlucky, like me you’ll be figuring this BS out until you die. People’s motivations aren’t clear, situations don’t have a clear right or wrong, and love doesn’t always result in a wedding. I enjoy movies as much as the next guy, but they are so present in our culture that they make it nearly impossible to decipher our lives. We reference things in front of us to things on-screen and vice versa. This mentality ruins lives, and the luckiest people in the western world get over it and move on. The rest of us stew over the injustice of it all and write blogs.

This post was partly inspired by the musings of a friend over at the Love and The Law blog. Your atypical law student asked some intriguing questions about our upbringings and I suggest you check out her post, here.