Remember the days when your kids were young, and you'd be driving them to soccer or ballet class or some other after-school activity, and your kid would sit in the backseat of the car with a friend or two, and they'd be talking about their lives and what was going on with their friends . . . and you'd be listening in, finding out what was really going on in their world?
Well, I got a glimpse of that the other day. I drove up to a football game (Army vs. Stanford) last weekend with my daughter, her boyfriend, and a college friend of my daughter's. On the way, they talked about the game, where we were going to park, how to pick up tickets at the will-call window, when they would be meeting up with a couple of their other friends.
On the way home after the game (Stanford won 34-20), they started talking about their jobs. My daughter's college friend now works for a public relations company. She does market research. The point of her job is to connect her clients' products with new trends, and especially social media trends.
So what's the latest trend, according to this young, media-savvy market researcher? Nostalgia. Nostalgia for what? You'd better be sitting down for this. Nostalgia for the 1990s.
I still watch reruns of Seinfeld. I didn't even know that the '90s were over! The oldies stations on my SiriusXM radio cover the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The station I have for what I think of as hip, up-to-date music is ... you guessed it, the station playing music from the '90s -- Radiohead, U2, Green Day, Dave Matthews. I like Dave Matthews.
But to these late 20-somethings, the 1990s were their growing-up years. They remembered their TV shows, which did not include Seinfeld but did include Dawson's Creek, Ally McBeal, Family Matters, Boy Meets World ... and my daughter did like The X Files.
They remembered the movies: Jurassic Park, Titanic, Forrest Gump, The Lion King, Romeo and Juliet.
The young woman talked about a Forrest Gump themed event that she'd been to, which somehow was tied in to a particular brand of vodka, and a party with a Red Hot Chili Peppers theme that was associated with some other product. (Yes, apparently that's her job -- trying to get her clients' products associated with something from the 1990s, which will presumably result in more sales.)
But anyway, what these young people remembered most fondly was not the movies or the music, but the technology.
"Remember flip phones?!?" my daughter's friend said, which brought on peals of laughter from the backseat. "And you know, the little antenna sticking out the top!" More raucous laughter. "And pagers!"
"Yeah, I remember pagers," the boyfriend said, scrunching up his face as if he was summoning up some antediluvian, pre-Christian concept.
These kids were part of the first generation to grow up with personal computers and the Internet. They recalled the days before DSL, when they had to plug the desktop computer into the phone line in order to access the Internet. They used AOL instant messaging, AIM. (Confession: I still use AIM.)
They discussed at length how, when they wanted to talk to a friend on the phone, they'd message the friend on AIM to log off their computer to free up the line so they could call them on the phone.
And they remembered having fun going into random chat rooms -- in the days when chat rooms were still places where innocent people could talk, before the perverts infected the system. And they laughed at the idea of going on a chat room these days. Who would do that?
They remembered some other things, too. But I didn't catch them all. Too many of the references were unfamiliar to me (reminding me how kids live in a different world from their parents). And besides these 20-somethings -- especially the gir ... I mean, the women -- talk so fast that I often can't understand what they're saying, and they slur their words and pause and say "like" about five times a minute.
I wonder if we were that way to our parents. Surely, we were ... remember the "generation gap"? Ah, the world moves on ...