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The Nostalgia Generation

The other day, I saw a quote about my generation (Gen Y, aka Millenials) being the Nostalgia Generation. For years now, I’ve seen article after article about how lazy Millenials are, how they expect things on a silver platter, how they’re obsessed with the 90s (that last one isn’t an exaggeration, I’ll give you that). Everyone older seems to view Millenials as ruining the “good old days” they grew up with. The quote on the Nostalgia Generation was referring to the fact that we romanticize our childhoods to a point that most generations have not, and why is that?

The article the quote came from (I’m sorry, I don’t have a link because I’m terrible at saving things), went on to explain that the reason Millenials are so nostalgic for a time that was barely 20 years ago is because the world has changed so much in that time. Between 1990 and 2010, technology has exploded. We have a hundred things we didn’t have before, or at least the majority of the population didn’t have—cell phones, portable computers, the Internet readily accessible by almost everyone, access to news and social media outlets around the world. The world has changed radically as well. Kids can’t even walk to the park alone these days without being picked up by the cops and the parents being accused of abuse. The Millenial generation, at least those born 1980-1995, experienced a much simpler, less technology fueled childhood than those that came immediately after. In a way, we’re very similar to the generation before us, but we’re also very close to the one after.

With the way change comes so quickly these days, Millenials see their childhoods as completely different than those of now. Of course, that’s probably the case with every generation that comes along. In twenty years, we’ll be complaining about this next generation. In fact, we already are. They’re too attached to their phones. They don’t know how to function on a basic social level, etc. I’ve read those articles too. They love to toss the kids born in 2000+ in with the Millenials and lump us all together as lazy, grabby-hands, overly-coddled (but seriously, you’re the ones who did that?) who can’t get jobs or just want to be Hipsters and drink coffee and ride bikes. The thing to remember here is that we inherited the problems of the past (aka the problems our parents’ generation created, and their parents’ before them) and we get labeled as the worst generation. It’s a cycle that will repeat until humans destroy themselves.

I’ll be the first to admit that I miss my childhood when I didn’t spend all of my time online. We were the first generation to widely learn and adapt to technology. We went from not having cell phones to getting a new one every year. We went from having a computer as big as a TV (if your family even had one) to something you can stick in your pocket. “You’re not always going to have a calculator with you when you grow up!” our teachers said. Oh, how wrong they were. I was 16 when I got my first cell phone. Iphones didn’t even become a “thing” until I was in college. I was lucky to have the internet at a young age (around 9), but it was years before I truly started using it the way I do now. We had classes in middle school on creating emails and using search engines.

Millenials grew up in two very different times—before and after the take-over of modern technology. In our minds, our childhoods are a very separate time when we weren’t obsessed with checking facebook and twitter. Facebook was created in 2004. I was a senior in high school, so I didn’t get one until 2005 when I got accepted to college and could join with that email. Remember when facebook didn’t let you join without a college email? Probably not. It’s only been 10 years, but even in that time, it’s changed. But that’s the nature of the beast. The world is always changing, and I wonder if kids in 20 years will romanticize today. Probably. That’s how humans are. We long for times gone by because everything looks better in hindsight.

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One thought on “The Nostalgia Generation

  1. I also think the 90s were also the most genuinely innocent decade since the 1920’s (and the 1920’s had speakeasies, ha!). Just think about how we’d been at war for a half CENTURY before 1990, and when it was finally over there was this true jubilation in America. The 90s were the first time people could breathe again.

    I do agree that everyone romanticizes their childhood, but I think Millenials actually have good reason to mourn for the 90s. We had enough technology to be comfortable without it being invasive. The world felt pretty peaceful. Columbine was a huge story because it was a rare shock, and now we have school shootings on a similar level at least once a year. I feel like the media wasn’t as corrupt back then – it wasn’t until they milked the OJ trial that they felt the need to Nancy Grace the hell out of every wife-killer court story out there. The Golden Age of TV and the Golden Age of Disney were both going strong. The economy was good in the post-Reagan years and Clinton added a budget surplus to that during his time in office. It was a fantastic time to be a kid, but I think it was a good time to be an adult too.

    Ultimately, the 90s were the last hurrah of a pre-9/11 world. Since 2001, there’s been this gray cloud over the whole country and we’ve never really recovered from it. Bad policies from 10-15 years before caught up and destroyed the economy. Hollywood’s priorities became seriously wrecked, and there is no longer Must See TV. For our parents who grew up during the Cold War, the late 80s and 90s were a brief hiatus from the crappy world they were born into, so I guess modern problems don’t affect them as much. But from our perspective – born at the peak of history – the world has done nothing but slope down. It’s hard for us to imagine that there will ever be another upswing, so all we can do is reflect on the past. I think that’s the main reason we’re The Nostalgia Generation.

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