Can we take a minute to talk about all the things we might be totally missing out on from the previous generation? I mean, sure, we’ve got our smartphones and social media, but let’s not forget that there are some seriously cool things from back in the day that we might never get to experience.
One Redditor asked, “Millennials and Gen X. What things are us Gen Z’s missing out on from your generation? Many users commented on this thread, and we have selected the top 20 things for you!
1. Being Unreachable
Being unreachable meant living in the moment. Older people were fully present in whatever they were doing, whether it was hanging out with friends, going on adventures, or simply enjoying some downtime. They were in the moment, experiencing life as it happened.
Someone said, “In the rare moment that it does happen (phone is dead, bad reception area), it feels so good.”
Another added, “People are commenting that they turn off their phone or go out into nature with no service and get “disconnected” It’s hard to describe the difference. My base state as a kid was disconnected. It’s like that bane quote about being “born in the darkness, molded by it.” Yall don’t know what it means to have to physically relocate to contact another person as the norm.
If my mom wasn’t home, I had to go to where the phone was and call her job to talk to her. When someone picked up, it wouldn’t be my mom, it’d be her coworker, and I’d have to ask for my mommy hahahahaha. To feel disconnected the same way you are when your phone dies, I just had to go to my room. Frankly, just about anywhere, you couldn’t physically see anyone else. You guys have only rarely experienced true solitude.”
2. Finding Friends Offline
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Trying to find your friends was an adventure in itself. You would ride your bike and ask Timmy’s mom where everyone was. She would say Jack’s house as you are riding to Jack’s house. You see Brian and his sister playing in the front yard. You stop by to say hi and end up in a water balloon fight. Steve, the kid next door, sees the fight and comes out, and his mom brings you donuts and milk. Soon Jack and about 4 other kids ride by and say they are going to the river to swim. You ride home.
Eat lunch and grab your suit. As you are out the door, your neighbor asks what you are doing. You invite them to the river. All afternoon all the kids are at the river having fun. You then decide to build a fort. Pretty soon, it’s getting late, and you need to go home for dinner. You eat a home-cooked meal and watch growing pains with your sister. You wait for your parents to go to bed so you can switch the TV to channel 3 and play Super Mario.”
Someone else replied, “The only way I reliably met up with friends for a large part of my childhood was by knocking on their front door and asking their mom if they could come out and play.”
So, we’re definitely missing out on the whole offline friend-finding scene. Those random encounters, unfiltered conversations, shared adventures, and the art of building trust- were the ingredients that created lasting friendships.
3. Everything You Do Is on Social Media
Unlike our Gen X and Millennial buddies, we live in a time where every single thing we do seems to end up on the internet. And you know what? It’s not always a good thing. Someone said, “Not having all your mess ups forever uploaded to the net.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “I can’t believe the stuff I got away with as a kid, no photo evidence. Whew.”
Someone else replied, “Dude, by far, this is the correct answer. I feel so bad for kids and teach mine ALWAYS be anonymous on social media.”
4. No Phones at Events
Alright, let’s face it, we’re all guilty of this one. We attend an event, whether it’s a concert or a party, and what do we do? We spend half the time trying to capture the perfect Instagram story or Snapchat moment.
One said, “Watching a live performance (concert, for example) without millions of phones in the air blocking your view.”
Another commented, “I saw Jack White and the Raconteurs a few years ago, and they had a strict no cell phone policy where you had to put it in the lock bag. It was nice not having lots of little lit-up screens between me and the stage.”
5. Cheaper Concerts
Back in the day, our elders could take a chance on a concert for an artist they hadn’t even heard of simply because it was affordable. They could stumble upon new music and discover hidden gems without worrying about spending a fortune. On the other hand, we have to carefully choose which concerts to attend because, let’s face it, our wallets can’t handle it.
A Reddit user wrote, “Concert prices are insane right now
Another added, “Seriously. I remember seeing REM in Atlanta in ‘95 for like $20 and Garth Brooks a couple years later for no more than $20-25.”
6. Couch Games
Remember those moments when you and your friends would experience an epic gaming triumph together? The shared excitement, the high-fives, and the uncontrollable laughter? Gen X had those moments, man! They could bond over gaming victories and hilarious in-game mishaps!
Someone said, “Couch co-op games. These days you have to have 2 systems and whole setups to play a game together.”
Someone else replied, “This. I had so much fun with friends playing Mario Kart and Goldeneye into the wee hours. The Nintendo 64, having four controller slots, made it the party system of choice for us. Although controllers weren’t cheap, and there were near fist fights over who had to use the 3rd party one. 🤣”
7. When the Internet Had No Say in Our Self-esteem
Back then, Gen X and Millennials didn’t have to deal with the constant pressure and comparison that comes with the online world. It was a whole different vibe! But us? The internet has opinions, and it’s messing with our self-esteem.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Having your self-esteem affected by only your immediate peers and not the internet. The pain is real. I would get off all social media immediately. The stuff is all toxic.”
Another person pitched in to say, “Agreed, I once saw a poor kid being ganged up by a bunch of girls (who were laughing and recording her crying with their phones).
It was in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, and nobody intervened. I don’t know if people didn’t know how to react or if they were afraid to intervene and get recorded, which could make them look bad. In the end, I felt so ashamed not for rushing over anyway because I’m absolutely certain that they’re recording the poor kid to further humiliate her in the future.”
8. Free Range Kids
A Reddit user wrote, “Parents that let their kids run free. Stranger Things was a pretty accurate depiction of kids’ freedom. Ride your bike wherever and be back when the streetlights come on. Playing outside every day and being home for dinner. Not many obligations; maybe practice a few times a week for basketball. The entire culture has shifted towards nerfing the world and micromanaging their kids’ lives.”
Someone replied, “I talk to younger people about being free range, and it’s like I grew up on a different planet. It’s not just that I was allowed to run around on my own. I was actively forced out of the house during the day. The sun is shining; get out, don’t come home until dinner time unless there’s a problem. It’s completely inconceivable to someone who’s never experienced this sort of upbringing.”
Millennials had the opportunity to build independence at a young age. They had to figure things out on their own, make decisions, and be responsible for themselves. But for us, it’s like our parents want to handle everything, from scheduling our lives to making decisions on our behalf.
9. No Electronics
One Redditor stated, “Freedom from electronics. I’d go out and never give a thought to who might be doing what or what some pretend famous person had to say about nothing. When you’re young and foolish, you can act like an id**t, and now it’s preserved for all time…I had the freedom to be a 20-something without every second being documented. It never happened…that’s real freedom.
Just be with your friends, having fun, getting into mischief, enjoying being young and fun. The other side of that was crushing on a guy and waiting for him to call…you’d go crazy, not wanting to miss that call!”
Another added, “I’m actually excited to get on a plane, so I can justify reading a book for the first time in a long time! I also miss the days of tomfoolery just being that, not a mistake that will now be preserved for all eternity. I do enjoy the fact that if I wish to speak to someone, they are a tap away.”
On the other hand, we are always connected, like our phones are permanently attached to our hands. We’re missing out on that ability to truly connect with ourselves and those around us. It’s time to unplug and rediscover the power of genuine connection.
Back in the day, people could have conversations, share experiences, and express themselves without the fear of it being broadcasted to the entire online world. They could trust their friends to keep things between them. But for us, it feels like everything we say or do is just one screenshot away from going viral.
Someone said, “One of my substitute teachers gave me similar advice, stating how sad she felt that we had so little freedom, always feeling future digital eyes on us. The school knew who we were and where we were at all times. Parents had to log into an app to call us in sick and stuff.
So mischief was basically impossible during my high school time. But I did my best! Also dealt with the consequences often. But now that I have graduated college, I am beyond happy with those small moments of mischief. Small moments where I felt free.”
11. Music Involvement
One said, “Musical involvement. Spotify has made everything so available, but it seems it has also destroyed that sense of connection. When you were only buying a few CDs every year, you got to know those albums inside out. Interviews with the artists would reveal their influences that would often lead you down a new, unfamiliar path and was a journey that could take years. Now, it’s instantaneous and a little disposable.
I dunno. I’m not explaining it well, and I sound a bit old, as though I’m saying that you guys don’t “get” music like we did back in the day. But to me, it just feels like a certain context has been lost. I listen to far more varied and diverse music than I did when I was young, but I don’t feel as passionate or connected to any of it.
E: I’m going to add a little more context because I’m not just talking about love and connection with music. It’s more that in the 90s, music was really all we had. There was no distraction with YouTube or movies. Nothing was On Demand. If you were lucky, you had a 20-inch TV that showed maybe three channels, with a test pattern after midnight. More often than not, our solace was a new book from our favourite authors and an album you saved up for.
For GenX, our rooms were dimly lit places of music. Thank God for the Sony Walkman, or at least the cheap one I got for Christmas 3 years after. I would get home from school, close the windows and blinds that Mum had opened in my absence, and just chill.
Edit 2, Electric Boogaloo: Here’s the REAL stuff you guys missed out on. In 95, as I was putting my Beatles collection together, I was living in my own flat (apartment). It was expensive, but I could afford it on my own full-time job. I wasn’t saving, but having an extra room for friends to crash in, while not needing a roommate, was worth it. Best years of my life. I loved living alone.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “I remember sitting by the radio waiting for a song to come on so I could record it onto a cassette. Took ages to get an entire cassette of all music you liked. Investment for sure.”
Remember the joy of making mixtapes for your friends? Now for us, music is just a click away on streaming platforms. We really are missing out on that tangible connection!
12. No FOMO
FOMO is like this constant buzzkill that keeps us on edge, always thinking that we’re missing out on something amazing. But our older generation? They knew how to embrace the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).
A Reddit user wrote, “There was less FOMO. Back when I was in high school in the 90’s, whatever you were doing with whatever friends you were with was the only thing going on. There wasn’t much of this idea about what you “might” be missing out on that other people you knew were doing. And if it was cool, they would tell you about it the next time you saw them. Simple. I really miss that.”
Another commented, “FOMO is quite literally what got me to renounce all social media. It’s an awful feeling & phenomenon which leads to so much needless dissatisfaction with one’s own lot.”
13. Handwritten Letters
Someone said, “I still try to do handwritten letters and postcards from time to time. Did 30 handwritten letters to friends when I went to Burning Man last year. Hand-painted art included that I did while there as well.”
Another added, “Really feel the handwritten letters part, and add actual physical pictures to that. I have piles of letters and photos from the ’80s and ’90s, and in the early 2000s, those that remained were all saved emails, and by 2005-7, I didn’t have any printed pictures (except a very few I went and had printed from digital). When the electronic ink goes down the memory hole…”
Let’s get real; handwritten letters had this personal touch that can’t be replicated by digital communication. But it’s like we’re limited to typing out messages or sending emojis.
14. Feeling Safe at School
Alright, picture this: Gen X could stroll through the hallways without constant worries about their safety. They could focus on their classes and enjoy their time at school without the constant stress of potential threats. One shared, “School felt pretty safe. Older Gen Z, btw.”
Another person pitched in to say, “They happen far more frequently than they did in the past, and the percentages in the US vs. nearly every other country are enormously different.”
This user responded, “Since 2020 the most likely cause of death in children in the US is via firearms. Obviously, that isn’t all school shootings; however, in just 2022, we had 51 school shootings resulting in 140 injuries or deaths. Specifically, 32 children died.”
Mixtapes had this rad personal touch that can’t be copied by digital playlists, right?
One said, “I always found the resurgence of mix-tapes to be funny because they got so big in memes, vernacular, etc., when mix-tapes were no longer a thing.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “Was trying to explain mix tapes to my kids.. especially trying to catch and record songs off the radio. I don’t think they really comprehended it.”
16. Appreciating Technology
Gen X and Millennials had the joy of discovering new tech innovations and exploring their capabilities. They could dive into the unknown, experiment with new gadgets, and be part of the tech community that pushed boundaries.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Being able to appreciate technology. When you grow up with smartphones and the internet, it’s easy to think things have always been this convenient.”
Another added, “Absolutely shook me to the core when a phone could not only fit in a pocket but also take pictures. Absurd concept when only a couple years prior I’d be begging my mom to get off the landline so I could try and use the internet.”
17. Fast Food Quality
Someone said, “The quality of fast food and chain restaurants was way better in the 90s. Places like Pizza Hut were amazing, and the food wasn’t all processed and frozen.”
Another commented, “KFC was a family meal for us on Sundays if we watched a football game with grandparents, and I remember it tasting really good. Tried them again a couple of years ago for the sake of nostalgia and was very let down.”
Don’t you think the quality of fast food has vastly decreased?
A Reddit user wrote, “Generally speaking, politics was something you heard about occasionally and rarely invaded your life. Now it seems to be 24/7, with every issue being politicized. In short, the world seemed less negative and not divided. On the other hand, making progress for all people is important, and I’m hoping the current generations can make that happen.”
Someone else replied, “You downplay how much politics was a topic of conversation and the news. People discussed it a fair bit; even as kids, we were aware of and talked a bit about it.
The issue is that now it’s so pervasive, and everything gets talked about to death, not that it was never talked about. And, being a kid in the 70s means you weren’t at an age where you really paid attention to what the adults were talking about. Things were divided then, too, but people didn’t speak out nearly as much about it.”
Millennials could have political discussions without the tension and heated arguments that seem to dominate our conversations these days, and that’s something we miss to this day!
Snow days were a free pass to stay home, build forts, drink hot cocoa, and have a day of pure winter fun. But for us, it feels like they have become a rarity. With less snow, the excitement of this has diminished.
One said, “Snow. It barely snows anymore in central Europe.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “Not really snowing in NYC anymore. Last winter, it barely got below 40, and it snowed twice but didn’t stick.”
Another commented, “For the past week, the Earth has experienced the hottest global temperatures in twenty thousand years; stuff like this will become more common. Someday in the near future, it won’t even snow in the Midwest, but our states will experience better weather than the rest of the country and planet.”
20. Movie Prices
Someone said, “Being able to go to the cinema without having to remortgage your house… And I suppose also a mortgage, thanks to how messed up the system is now.”
Another person pitched in to say, “99-cent theaters were the thing. I remember there was one about 2 miles from my grandma’s house. I would walk there 3-4 times a week when I stayed at her house. It was awesome!!”
Going to the movies used to be a thrilling experience, but now it’s more of an expensive one for Gen Z!
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