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.