25 Gen-Xers Recall Why The 90s May Be Different To What People Remember

Published 2 months ago

The 1990s often come to mind as a peaceful decade. But certain incidents took place during that time such as the OJ Simpson trial or the Rwanda genocide which barely gets talked about enough. Despite the 90s being amazing, there were some darker aspects that many seem to forget. 

To gain a more nuanced understanding of this significant era, a Reddit user named IndieSyndicate initiated a discussion on the ‘Gen X’ subreddit. They asked members born between 1965 and 1980 to share the common misconceptions about the 1990s. The responses from this diverse group offered varied perspectives and experiences as you can see below, challenging the often oversimplified narratives presented in the mainstream.

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Image credits: IndieSyndicate

#1 Money was tight then, too. People were happy with fewer luxuries, because we could get by. And the very idea of giving a child a device worth hundreds of dollars was ludicrous! I still feel this way.

Image source: supermaja, Ahsanjaya / pexels (not the actual photo)

#2 The early 90s and late 90s were two very different times culturally. I can’t stand it when I see a picture of the spice girls with a “So 90s!” caption.

Image source: anon, Vika Glitter / pexels (not the actual photo)

#3 That everyone loved Curt Cobain and/or Nirvana or that he/they even “spoke” for a generation.

Image source: Rettorica, Adam Jones

#4 The 90s were NOT represented in the film SINGLES or the TV show “Friends”. But the music represented the 90s well.

Image source: JuicyApple2023, Warner Bros

#5 That the early 1990’s were really bleak economically.

Image source: Normal-Philosopher-8, MART PRODUCTION / pexels (not the actual photo)

Nearly everyone I knew, including people with Ivy League degrees, were working good service or retail just trying to get by. The Information Age felt so distant in 1992 – it wouldn’t explode until another five years. Rodney King, the LA riots, OJ Simpson trial – these were big signs that we were a long way from racial harmony. Everyone older than us was screaming about family values, while we elected a known womanizer president, and a Speaker of the House who was impeaching the president while getting blow jobs from a woman who would become his third wife. We now had a known sexual harasser on the Supreme Court – gender equality wasn’t that great, either. The Balkans were destroying themselves. Rwanda genocide barely made the papers. Yitzak Rabin is assassinated. Middle East terrorism starts. There was a lot of global uncertainty. At home, Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, the Olympic bomber – these show deep divides brewing. Matthew Shepherd, whole communities still dying of AIDS, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell – we have a long way to go for gay rights. But by 1995, the economy starts to heat up. By 1998 it’s exploding. Then the dot com bubble burst. All of these things set into motion the new and continuing problems that continue to dominate our lives today. Don’t get me wrong – the 1990’s were an amazing decade. Despite all of these things, there was a lot of hope, and the feeling that we could be part of a world that could still do amazing things and we were going to get to see them, participate in them, prosper under it. GenXers were, more than anything, YOUNG. That feeling of youth is what a lot of people miss when they remember the 90’s. Just as there was neon in the 1980’s, there was prosperity and feelings of possibility in the 90’s. But it wasn’t the norm, and it wasn’t for everyone. We felt great, sleeping on futons at 25, but little we know we were destined to back problems in our 40’s because of them.

#6 There’s a HUGE difference between the early 90’s and late 90’s. After 1996 it was more millennial, pokémon, Britney Spears vs the early 90’s which was more grunge smooth RnB.

Image source: taez555, Kübra / pexels (not the actual photo)

#7 That mom Jeans were cool. No one under 35 wore them. They looked like s**t.

Image source: palmveach1972, Ann Bugaichuk / pexels (not the actual photo)

#8 The Rave scene was bigger and better than anyone seems to remember. PLUR.

Image source: Creamyspud, ELEVATE / pexels (not the actual photo)

#9 That Nirvana ruled the 90s, and brought an end to all other forms of hard rock. They hit hard for about two and a half years, and then we were stuck with Tonic and the goddamn Spin Doctors.

Image source: emmiblakk, Tobby Holzinger

#10 Some of the most popular music artists of the ‘90s were also the most popular music artists of the ‘80s, like: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, George Michael, Paula Abdul, and Salt N Pepa.

Image source: FlingbatMagoo, cottonbro studio / pexels (not the actual photo)

#11 The 90s was a lot more analog than it’s presented. People still read newspapers and magazines. Cell phones were not ubiquitous. Cassette tapes and VHS tapes still dominated.

Image source: 4reddityo, Lina Kivaka / pexels (not the actual photo)

#12 That the 90s were some kind of utopia. There was a lot of good things, but the 90s were violent and there were way more ism’s on display.

Image source: MiltownKBs, cottonbro studio / pexels (not the actual photo)

#13 Grunge always seems to get the spotlight, but an overwhelming number of people were pretty preppy actually. We did, after all, make household names out of the Gap, Banana Republic, J Crew, etc.

Image source: Hurley002, OG Productionz / pexels (not the actual photo)

#14 Not all GenXers were disinterested slackers in the 90s.

Image source: JackTrippin, Elena Rubtsova / pexels (not the actual photo)

#15 A lot of people mention grunge and gangsta rap, but country was very hot too. Country line dancing became a big thing, Branson, Missouri became a big tourist destination with its theaters, and artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain made tons of money. My grandfather always had the country station on. Alan Jackson and George Strait were his favorites. The country influence made its way into homes, with cow, geese, and rooster decor.

Image source: thisgirlnamedbree, Negative Space / pexels (not the actual photo)

#16 Internet being widely available, so many tv shows and movies showing teenagers in supposedly early and mid 90s sitting in their bedrooms chatting online on their personal computers or being “hackers” and I’m like “b*tch in 1994 I didn’t even know what the internet was” and I didn’t really get home internet until 1999 (in the one and only computer of the house), and neither did anyone I knew, even the rich kids at school didn’t care or knew about it, you were either out of the house or watching tv.

Image source: nothingexceptfor, MART PRODUCTION / pexels (not the actual photo)

#17 I loved the 90’s so much. But people do forget that 1/4 oz. Of weed could get you a serious sentence, and homophobia was even worse then i think.

Image source: Left_Percentage_527, cottonbro studio / pexels (not the actual photo)

#18 A comment I heard years ago and don’t remember the source: “1997 was the year it stopped being weird to have email.”.

Image source: AntheaBrainhooke, MART PRODUCTION / pexels (not the actual photo)

#19 I think one idea that’s misrepresented is that we were already online, all the time. I mean, I was STOKED when I got into the dorm with LAN connections in 1993, but I was an outlier. Lots of kids at my college barely understood using computers, much less anything internet-related beyond maybe an AOL/AIM. Obviously this was an evolution of ten very fast moving years.

Image source: HillbillyEulogy, Viktorya Sergeeva / pexels (not the actual photo)

#20 Please don’t bring 90’s fashion back. It died on the vine for a reason, it sucked. Run if you start seeing turtlenecks, multi color sweaters, buckle shoes and mullets.

Image source: terrapinone, Polina Tankilevitch / pexels (not the actual photo)

#21 The 90s was the dial up era and transition from dot matrix printers to ink jet. That modem squealing sound sums it up. We had technology, but it required patience and we were so grateful to have it, nobody complained. You lose the Internet for 10 minutes these days and people act like they’re going to lose their minds.

Image source: peonyseahorse, MART PRODUCTION / pexels (not the actual photo)

#22 I will describe the usage of computers on university campuses in 1996. “checking your email” meant walking across campus *in the snow* and sitting down in front of a gigantic metal box and starting up an email program. “notifications” did not exist at this time. Even medical doctors used pagers.

Image source: vwibrasivat, Changhee Kim / pexels (not the actual photo)

#23 Nobody seems to talk about all the maroon and hunter-green wallpaper strips that were added to the top of the walls in houses.

Image source: Ok-Film-2436, Alina Vilchenko / pexels (not the actual photo)

Maroon and hunter-green everywhere. From cars to vacuums and beyond.

Oh, and the prevalence of People magazine. I see stuff about Readers Digest, but People magazine is not really talked about.

I also don’t think people really understand just how much people smoked then either. Smoking in the car with your kids in it, at McDonalds, at school, etc.

#24 That life was GREAT before the internet and cell phones made us all into anxious, isolated zombies.

Image source: LovesRainstorms, cottonbro studio / pexels (not the actual photo)

#25 Cellphones were considered tacky and unnecessary unless you were a doctor.

Image source: iguessijustgoonthen, Vika Glitter / pexels (not the actual photo)


Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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90s, 90s romanticism, 90s things, gen x, people
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