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

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1485455157 Renata Kaleah Gonzales

    I felt like this article was made for me. I’m turning 21 today and I feel soooooo old. But reading this really made me laugh. I’m trying to get to step 3 right now :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=540050362 Hilary June

      Happy Birthday fellow ’92-er … we can brave this together!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=510720095 Layla Medina

    Have kept up with the Joneses, but seriously, the 90s were way better!

    No offense, music nowadays? Mostly garbage. But there are notable exceptions, thank heavens! Am at the middle of that gap-boom. I can still relate.

    And yes, I do know who Niall Horan is! Teehee!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=854330156 Katie Baker

    Spent my anniversary weekend with my boyfriend watching 90s classics like Jumanji and Toy Story (the original). It was fabulous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513730885 Laura Fred Michael

    Turned 28 recently…so… YEAH!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=618113194 Nurul As

    I had to google Niall Horan. It’s kinda funny (or sad?) that these kids are actually just a teeny bit younger, and although I’m turning 22, it’s a whole other planet!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506978957 Madalyn Hamann

    Ah well, those kiddies of today will encounter that feeling soon enough! And I do feel kind of proud of being in between the old world that my parents grew up in and the world we live in now. And wow, you’re right, we did pretty much seamlessly adapt to all those changes! (But then again, we 90s kids can do that.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506585130 Colleen Sweeney

    I am turning 30 in July, so I totally get it. I only know who Niall Horan is because I have sisters who are 18 and 21.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1021717917 Shannon Byrnes

    Perfect article. I just turned 31 a few weeks back and I’ve been getting in touch with my 90s roots as of lately. It brings me nothing but happiness :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1344435833 Sara Tornelli

    Connect with Facebook to post a comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1456596307 Tricia Clare Onions

    I really am getting old; I have actually used the words, “Well in MY day we had Tamagotchis!” But I’m working on being celebratory of my childhood years, rather than bitter. And this helped loads 😛

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512568577 Amanda Runner

      I kinda miss the simplistic game-ness of tomagotchtis!
      ps- anyone else get them taken away as kids? hahah

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=819565074 Brian Zinnel

        Mine fell in the toilet. :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003933494 Alyx Duarte

      Confession: I LOVED MY TAMAGOTCHI & GIGA PETS! My gosh, I used to play with them all the time! I kept them all on a keychain, and would clip them to my belt loop.
      My cousin recently tagged me in an old pic from when we were little…you can totally see the keychain! haha!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505418868 Holly Craven

    I completely relate to everything in this article! Sadly I had to look up Niall Horan on IMDb. Luckily one advantage our generation has is we can secretly search the internet to solve the mysteries of new lingo/celebs/fads that we’ve never heard of. And we should all remember that our generation had the Spice Girls and nothing will EVER trump that coolness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512568577 Amanda Runner

    this. article. is. awesome. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512568577 Amanda Runner

    dude, are tomagatchi and/or nano pets available as online games?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585718130 Ruby Ana Corona

    I totally relate, lol!!! The 90’s were awesome :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=787420947 Vanessa Sotomayor

    No, but seriously…. Whats an LG?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174733064 Dillon Colbert

      I asked the Google, apparently LG is Little Girl. and Bronie is somebody who likes magic Ponies(I can’t validate it)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000161351940 Cassi Baker

    This article is total awesomeness. And I was just telling my younger sister about an hour ago how much better the 90’s were!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000864887548 Hernan Ledesma

    Niall Horan?? is that a band?? :O

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1101704950 Jenii Ratcliffe

    “The ’90s were not that long ago, you can’t be out of touch, you’re not even a parent…”

    Fyi, most 90’s kids are parents now. I know this is knitpicky, but yeah, that just drove me nuts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312080015 Rachel Dawn Kane

    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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507003387 Tania Vincent

    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!

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