Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nostalgic About . . . What?

     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 ...


rosaria williams said...

Remember the song, Everything old is new again? Yep.

Douglas said...

Real history begins the day you are born. Anything before that is ancient history... bordering on folklore.

I remember listening to the radio to hear the "funnies" being acted out.

I remember the day we got our first TV.

I remember my first modem and my first computer.

The mind boggles.

Stephen Hayes said...

The term "Generation Gap" was invented to make us feel better than our parents. Now our kids are inventing terms to make themselves feel better (smarter) than us. The circle goes round.

June said...

At work a few weeks ago I mentioned Miss Frances and Ding Dong School. The forty-two- and forty-five-year-old with whom I worked looked at me as if I were talking about prehistory.
Maybe, if Douglas is correct, I was...

Olga said...

I can so relate to this post.

Meryl Baer said...

The 90s are a blur to me. I was putting kids through college and working hard at a career - and learning the new technology constantly bombarding us at work. I remember not being able to take vacation around the millenium because of Y2K concerns.
I know there are items in my closet that date from that era...

DJan said...

You just made me realize that 1990 was 23 years ago! How did that happen? I'm like you, Tom, I still think it was yesterday. Good post! Thanks for reminding me that people born then are now adults. Sigh. :-)

Anonymous said...

For all the technology, most young people don't write letters, or know what the hell a typewriter was or is, I still have an IBM electric I got for $15.00 at the VARO at DFC in 1974! It works great..Most youngins don't know how to compose a letter, don't know what a thank you card is suppose to be for, I sent two gift cards for trader joe's to 2 people who were extremely kind to our only child even the mother who is 68 did not send a thank you thinking I had a cellphone and wanted our e-mail account, really? I just skip gifts anymore most people don't really appreciatae what it takes to select and get the gift to the person and they definitely don't have any manners whatsoever...bah humbug they can shove all the technology it has made total idiots of people I think. no I don't have a cell phone at all!

schmidleysscribblins.wordpress.com said...

That is too funny,and tells me that modern
tv in the US is awful. The 90s TV is a mystery to me as our most movies. The 1980s were better and we had bookend recessions that decade. The 1990s were too much Gordon Gekko.

If I look at TV, I watch or watched BBC or PBS. Brit TV is much better. Mostly I read or do other things. Obviously, I am in a market segment advertisers mostly overlook. Dianne


June said...

One blogger to another . . . do you ever get the feeling that people are responding to a piece you didn't post?

Tom Sightings said...

Well, June . . . sometimes you get someone who goes off on their own tangent. And sometimes you get what is essentially an ad for another website, or just outright spam (Blogger blocks most of those, but not all). But for the most part I think the comments are relevant, and often they are informative, thought-provoking, or funny.

Anonymous said...

Tip to anonymous: I would have considered a gift card to be a "thank you" for having treated your child well. The mother, just as I (who am older than she), may well have been taught that one did not send a thank you note to acknowledge a "thank you". That string of thank yous can go on forever! It was OK/encouraged for me to tell them how "cute" or "useful" or "some other adjective" their "thank you gift" was - the next time that I saw him/her.

As I recall, "Generation Gap" was current in the 1970s. I recall telling a younger engineer that I preferred being on my side of the generation gap, to being on his side.

As I had kids before I had TV (and our only grandchild isn't a 20-something, but a 30-something), and as I did not own a TV for 15 of the later years (1970s-1980s), I'm not familiar with most of the older programming.
Cop Car

Anonymous said...

I knew the nostalgia theme just because of all the hits i get on a couple of pinterest boards I have on the vintage subjects like clothes and homes. But the 90s! I haven't seen that one yet.