I was a 90s kid; I identify myself as such–born at the beginning of 1992, I was well into elementary school when 2000 began, and everything that made that decade “the 90s” was a firm part of my life growing up: the television shows, the toys, the gadgets, the cheesy commercials, the
cheesier horrible sodas (I’m looking at you Pepsi Blue) all continue to permeate my memories of childhood with varying degrees of nostalgia and “what the hell were we doing back then?”
It was a great time to be a kid: Nickelodeon was king, as was Pokemon, and Neopets, and yearly book fair catalogs from the school library. Everything was bright, and cell phone technology and the internet and music were experienced in a way that will not only never happen again, but will probably not be even properly understood from those who will be kids in 20 or 30 years.
We existed in an age of technological transition, our early lives penned with the beginnings of that growth and the beginning of our adulthood punctuated by the technology that currently exists. It all happened so quickly, and it leaves someone from that time, who is trying to understand adulthood, trying to understand what it means to grow up, and be a parent and be present in a decade that isn’t entirely theirs, wondering what to do, who to be, what to hold onto when everything is moving so fast.
It’s hard–and for the longest time, I feel like, the 90s kid has been a sort of lost generation, a meme’d idea, a target audience for nostalgia, but one without a proper place in the records of generations. A better explanation for that can be found here, in a Thought Catalog article about why the 90s kid is obsessed with the 90s. (this is also the article that kickstarted this post so you can thank it or blame it for that.)
The entire article is an expression through words the feelings we’ve all felt for so long but have been unable to properly express–this part below, especially, being what really got me thinking.
In the words of Tyler Durden,
“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.
It’s sad, and he isn’t specifically talking about us, about the 90s kid, about our generation, but his words are true–they apply. Ours was the last generation that experienced true wonder, that discovered through blood and pain and broken bones and scuffed knees, who wandered around until dark, and still after, until it was time to come home for dinner. We were the last to not have our faces in phones at five years old, but were the first kids to even have phones at all–the only generation to go from, to quote an earlier part of the article, “a corded, hugeass phone to a small computer in our pocket just within our formative years.” We were between the tides–the non-tech and the all tech–and the life we knew, the one we grew up in, the one we saw and were told of and were promised, was lost at some point, quicker than we could process properly, resulting in us feeling nowhere.
And that isn’t to say that we are the only generation that wonders, or has ever wondered, about our place in history. The “Greatest Generation,” the “Baby Boomers,” they didn’t identify themselves as such until they were much further along in life, and I can only imagine that they felt similarly about how they would be remembered. The difference, I feel, between our generation and theirs is that we do exist between the cracks. Things changed so rapidly during our formative years–we changed so rapidly. What we imagined the future as being, what was laid out before us by our parents and our teachers, was vastly different than what we would be presented with today were we kids now, and because of things like 9/11, the “Great Recession,” and the overall growth of cynicism and selfishness all happening from when we started elementary school until college, the picture we were presented with when we were younger is very different from what we see now.
We are a strange generation indeed. We are dreamers, and innovators–the perhaps only generation to know the true value technology. We are hardworking and we will amount to some truly incredible things–if only we can properly manage to find our way in this world. There will not be another generation quite like ours, and that’s probably a good thing, because as wonderful as we may manage to be, we are confused, we are tired, and we don’t know how we will get to “wonderful,” even if we know it is coming.