Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most awesome generation of them all?
Without a shadow of a doubt, and without a hint of prejudice or bias in my opinion, I can honestly say that those born in the 80s and early 90s are the undisputed champions when it comes to the best generation there ever was (shout out to all those born in good ol’ 1986).
This generation of pioneers can truly call themselves the inbetweeners; the bridge that best exemplified the link between the analog and the digital, the wired and the wireless, the present and the future.
We grew up on the playground and then later migrated to the virtual world of zeros and ones. We cried when we scraped our knees and bruised our elbows, not when the touch screens of our iPads broke. We kicked footballs with our feet and not our opposable thumbs. Our first computer was the GUI enabled Windows ‘95; the blue screen of death was our greatest fear. To go online you had to go sit down in front of a CRT monitor (which required a lot of muscle to move, as did our TVs) and not simply whip out your smart phone and flick your finger across the screen whilst standing in line waiting for your low-fat caramel macchiato.
This was the generation that had to bear the Skrillex-like shrill of the dial-up modem as they connected to the internet with a speed of 56kbps! Phrases like, “get off the internet, I want to use the phone!” were not uncommon from parents. Many a times the dial-up would fail due to “line busy”, and we’d have to occupy ourselves with other mentally stimulating challenges. At that speed, downloads were a luxury that took days for music, and weeks for movies. We relied on VCD copies of said movies, obvious bootlegs recorded in a dreary cinema, to keep up-to-date with the latest happenings of Hollywood. Nowadays, everything is available at warp speed and perfect quality. People have volumes and volumes of data, but no time to watch any of it!
If we wanted to call our friends, we had to dial their landlines, make idle small-talk with whomever picks up, and in case of calling a crush several times and getting her frustrated parents, the ‘cold-shoulder-hang-up’ was implemented. If you were unlucky, you’d get a cross call, where someone inadvertently violates your line space and listens in to your conversation. A complete random stranger!
TV was amazing too. We treaded the waters carefully, with only a few local channels available via antenna, with a nifty little device that would make it spin like a weathervane as reception depended upon the weather. Then the satellite sprung into commercial existence with a thousand and one channels that play 24/7. But most importantly, this is the generation that knew how to PROGRAM THE VCR! You would go out and set the timer to record your favorite show, no sweat.
We had to borrow our parents’ cell-phones when going out with our friends, as mobiles were still coming to fruition (and terribly expensive! Both as hardware and payment plan; those that handled the Ericsson T688 will recall). We were making history, we were the test subjects for the transition to touch screen! Can you imagine the difficulty of moving from using the indestructible Nokia 3310, or the pudgy Nokia “Panda” 6600 to iPhones and Androids?
It was a time of surprise and delight, as we rarely knew who was calling, since caller ID only came out a short while after the mobile phone was introduced, it was also a subscription service. Nowadays apps like TrueCaller have taken the fun out of receiving calls from anonymous numbers, as a name is immediately assigned to the number.
Music! This was the generation of the Walkman, and its successor, the Discman! Jogging was a lot of fun as you got a workout in your arms just carrying whatever device you were running with, and the Discman had a nasty habit of skipping. Just try to imagine sneaking one of those into class at school! Nowadays it is easy, with iPod shuffles literally the size of your thumb, that could be stashed anywhere!
Last but certainly not least, photography! Before the days of smart phones and Instagram, photographs had to be taken on a special thing called ‘film’. Each film roll had a capacity of 36 shots depending on who loaded it, most of the time several shots were lost when loading, so the average was 32. As it cost money to buy the film, as well as money to have it developed, people were very picky over what they snapped, and hence there were no “selfies” back in the day, no pictures of floating fingers carrying funny objects, you basically did not click anything you did not want a stranger to see (and ridicule) later.
Yes, if anything, this generation should be dubbed ‘the people of patience’.
The greatest achievement of this generation has to be their ability to adapt. We adapted to every new release of Windows, we adapted to the flat screens, the touch screens, the Air Jordans, the music (from Britney to Miley, and every blonde in between) and the internet. The list is endless. We continue to adapt to this very day.
Yes indeed, this generation will make some very strange grandparents!