Hey '90s Kids, You're Old: Coping With The New Generation GapTaryn Parrish

If you were born in the mid to late 1980s, and maybe even the very early ’90s, you were a ’90s kid.

You’ve been on the youngest side of the generational gap for years. You’ve explained to your grandparents the wonders of e-mail, you’ve set up the DVD player for your mom, you’ve fought with your dad about how school has changed since his day and then dramatically run up to your room to crank up the classic “Parents Just Don’t Understand”. Because they didn’t – they were from a different generation, and you were separated by a colossal gap of confusion, with no bridge in sight.

As part of the younger generation, you seamlessly adapted to the world’s changes. You flawlessly transitioned from Walkmans to CD players to iPods. You graduated from MSN Messenger to MySpace to Facebook and to Twitter. You traded America’s Funniest Home Videos for YouTube. That’s a lot of change to handle in a short amount of time – heck, even a planet disappeared – but there’s nothing your young and hip generation couldn’t handle. To the older generation, “hashtag” is simply the pound sign, the DVDs need to be rewound and abbreviated messaging lingo is an encrypted secret language understood only by us. LOL!

You’ve had everything under control for years, ’90s kid, but things have started to change, haven’t they? You come across a nostalgic list on the Internet. It might be “121 Things a True ’90s Kid Knows” or “You’re a ’90s Kid If…” or perhaps most cryptically, “Things ’90s Kids Will Have to Explain to their Kids.” These lists make you feel like you are part of an elite group of awesomeness, but they also force you to realize how much time has passed. “Wait,” you wonder, “Am I old enough for this nostalgia?”

And then BAM! Your younger sibling or that kid you babysit throws new lingo at you. Desperately, you pretend to understand what they are talking about as they go on and on about the annoying “LGs” and “Bronies” in their class. Finally, you surrender and ask what the abbreviation stands for. They look at you with a mix of disbelief, disgust and sadness. And then they tweet your pathetic lack of know-all to their 20,000 followers and ruin your life.

And that’s it.

That final abbreviated blow was all it took to catapult you hundreds of miles away from the cool, young generation club you thought you were still a part of. The gravel has quickly eroded behind you, plummeting into bridge-less waters, creating a new gap. You suddenly realize that the young person you were interacting with is the youth to your “adult,” and they are now the one’s playing “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Except it’s not “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” it’s some other song by some band you don’t know because music these days is just garbage. And it’s too loud!

How could this happen to you? How could you be treated like you’re old? The ’90s were not that long ago, you can’t be out of touch, you’re not even a parent, and that kid with the new lingo is only six years younger than you! You can’t be old!

Breath. This is your first experience on the older side of a generation gap. It can be scary, here’s how to deal:

1) Retaliation: Don’t let this child of the millennial belittle you. You’re from the ’90s. You got moves they’ve never seen. You had to actually read books and talk to people in real life as a kid. So when they are acronyming you, bust out your ’90s flavor and respond with “As if!” or “Booyah!” or “Not!” or “Psych!” and wait for their look of confusion. Respond with, “Oh, you don’t know what that means? Sorry kid, I gotta go make a mix tape and feed my Nano, so talk to the hand and maybe I’ll teach you how to devil stick one day, if you’re lucky”. And then grab your Razor scooter a zip on outta there.

2) Acceptance: You’re old (er). It’s okay. Lucky for you, vintage is in. People are playing records and taking Polaroids again, ’90s fashions are already creeping back into the mainstream: scrunchies, overalls, leggings. Being old is cool – in fact, you’re not old, you’re vintage!

3) Reality Check: Of course, fellow ’90s kids, you’re not really old. This is just the first time in your life where you are encountering younger people who you can no longer relate to. It can seem scary at first, feeling “old” and out of touch, but all it really means is that your own generation has taken on a nice, rounded shape. As a 90s kid, you have a distinct identity, a reference point, memories and peers that make your experience in the world unlike any other. Generational distinctions are a beautiful thing.

So humour the youngins, ask them to help you update your iPod, navigate Instagram and to explain who Niall Horan is. They will seem annoyed, but they secretly love it.

Featured image via.

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  1. Born in 1981. This post is perfect. The other day I mentioned Weezer to a college-aged girl that I know. She said “You know who Weezer is?!” and I replied: “YOU know who Weezer is?” The other day a guy I play in my church band with said: “Boom shaka laka laka.” and I was, like “Whoomp, there it is!” and he thought it was cool. So funny. In some ways, they think I am cool because the 90′s is coming back and sometimes I feel old because I have to look up an abbreviation they use or they don’t understand something I am talking about like how you used to call to find out movie times instead of looking them up on the internet. It is me stealing my dad’s bellbottoms he had in high school and wearing them when I was a teenager, saying “Groovy” instead of “cool”, and playing the Monkees on my mix tape all over again.

  2. Just turned 27. Love my fellow ’90s kids. <3

  3. Guys i am 21 but i know that there was alot of crap music in the 90′s, lets face it

  4. if you had Facebook in high school this doesn’t count for you.

  5. I felt old when Foo Fighters came on Vh1 Classic, on my 20th birthday, no less.

  6. “You’re not old, you’re VINTAGE!” haha!

    Well, you know you’re vintage when you start your sentences with “In my generation…”

  7. born in 1990- so yes, being a 90s kid is awesome.
    this was soooo well written. loved it!

  8. We live in a present that goes on for ever. One second is not much different from the next, neither is one minute or even an hour. You may see a week pass in a flash. But, when you reach 30 you go; Wow where did the last five years go. I´m 47 and I´m thinking; uh! oh! What happened to the last 25 years.

  9. This article made me El-Oh-El! I was born in ’93 and am totally starting to feel the gap!! I have a brother who’s five years younger than me, and when I went home for the holidays he came out with these words/sayings I’d never even heard of before.
    Im turning 20 later this year and I just don’t know how to deal!… I will no longer be a teenager. **sigh**
    The only reason I know who Niall Horan is is because of Twitter.
    I have absolutely no clue what Bronies are
    And when I read “LG” I said to myself, “Like the cell phone?” hahaha!

  10. who is Niall Horan?

  11. Earlier today I had iTunes on Random and “Stop” by the Spice Girls popped up. Made me so nostalgic LOL! As I was reading this article it was playing in my head! I was born July 1990 so definitely felt that sting when I heard my 13 year old cousin throw some new “slang” words at me and had to ask him what in the world that meant :/

  12. Love it when twentysomethings feel old. Geesh! I must be as old as Stone Mountain!

  13. I celebrated my 27th birthday with a nice long cry and a heartfelt lament of, “I’m old… I’m SO old.” The 80′s and 90′s were the freaking best. Even the early 00′s were awesome. It all went downhill after about 2004.

  14. I LOLed for real. I just turn 21 less than a month ago, and I totally understood and agree with every word that was said. I’m such a 90s kids, and it’s true music these days such. I mean who are these 1D guys anyway and what’s a Niall Horan? whats wrong Backstreet boys again? jokes I’m not that bad. Secretly love that I have to say to the youngesters “oh that’s right it was before your time”

  15. The act of not knowing about the existence of Niall Horan is not about our age, it’s more about having good taste in music. I now know who he is, but even if I was younger I wouldn’t know a single name of any of One Direction’s members because to me they are irrelevant (and my younger self was also a rocker and would still find them irrelevant!) lol

  16. I feel like early 90s kids (’90/91) are stuck in this generational gap where we still remember cool things that happened in the 90s (SPICE GIRLS!) but are also up to date with popular culture and things that are happening nowadays… Or maybe that’s just me.

    • Same problem here! And it does feel awkward to be spouting off information about who Bieber is dating at the moment, because I feel young enough to know this stuff, yet old enough to let it go.

  17. I love being a 90′s kid! Born in ’91 :)

  18. Yes! This explains me so well haha. I definitely have to have my brother or sister help me get music onto my iphone. This made me laugh and feel better about being “old”.

  19. I love this article. I’m 26 and in extreme adult denial but after your article (and googling what all the references actually were) I’m happy to be a 90′s child with a little 80′s mixed in for good luck. Long live Fraggle Rock, Push Pops, & Lycra shorts!

  20. I hate to have to be the annoying one here, but there is a typo… Breath should be *Breathe — other than that, thanks for the reminder of how awesome it is to be a 90s kid!