People Who Grew Up In The 1990s Describe What It Was Really Like

Late '90s Chevy with blue wrap against funky '90s backdrop
Photo by Devin Berko on Unsplash

With certain trends coming back into fashion from the 1990s, as well as reboots from '90s kids' favorite TV shows and movies, some who were born since then might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

And the '90s kids were ready for a walk down memory lane.


Redditor Anitoko_chan182 asked:

"To all those who grew up in the 1990s, what was life like?"

What Homework?

"Get home from school, lie and say I had no homework, and go ride bikes or hang out in the tree house with neighborhood kids until it got dark."

"Go home, eat dinner, watch cartoons or play video games, and lay in bed with anxiety because I didn't do my homework."

"Rinse and repeat."

- Slawth_x

"Car!"

"'Car!'"

"What amazes me is the universality of this. Because there was no other phrase. And I think people think it's a reference to 'Wayne's World,' but let's be real, that was art imitating life, not the other way around."

- whatever_befall

The Sweetest of Afternoons

"Don't forget riding bikes with a group of like eight kids to 7-11, all of you leaving your bikes out in front unlocked while you went in and loaded up on candy and Slurpees, and then going back to someone's house to play cards and listen to music while we ate the junk food."

- brasslamp

Unlimited Nights and Weekends

"I remember my parents got cell phones when I was pretty young. Like early-early versions."

"My mom turned hers off unless she needed to make a call. And then one day my dad had road trouble or something and then couldn't get ahold of her because she just didn't turn her phone on."

"It was a whole thing. But it was like this light bulb moment of, 'if I have a mobile phone so I can be reached wherever I am, I need to keep it turned on.'"

- Catsdrinkingbeer

Ghost in the Graveyard

Staying out playing in the front yard until dark (yes, the cliche was true). We played 'Jurassic Park' a lot and made up dances to the Spice Girls."

"My personal favorite was Ghost in the Graveyard (Hide and Seek in the dark), but it sounds like that may be a regional thing."

- midnightlightbright

That Dial-Up Sound

"No social media, which means all my f**kups are only captured on Polaroids and the mind of people slowly approaching dementia, thank merciful Christ."

"The internet was slow as s**t, like it took 20 minutes to get online with dialup. China's economy was still dominated by Hong Kong, and Russia looked like they were going to modernize into a real democracy. The president of the US played jazz on live TV, and hair gel sold faster than crack."

"We were definitely more optimistic than we are now, but maybe that was just delusion rather than fact. It's hard to tell sometimes if things were actually better, or if I was just a kid who could enjoy the simple moments in life."

- Cyanora

The Little Things

"No social media, or cell phones, was the absolute best. If we wanted a picture, we had to remember that the person, who in my case was a real gossip at high school, was going to see it."

"I was in high school in the mid-90s, my elementary days were spent playing hide and go seek with the neighborhood kids, and every front yard on the block was fair game; not one neighbor ever complained."

"Everyone seemed kinder, the music was awesome, and we were all so much more connected it seemed. Lots of basketball, rollerblading, and 'jacka**' type shenanigans that we would come up with."

"And Dunkaroos, Surge, and Flinstone push-ups were the ultimate treats."

- expecto_your-mom

Just Relax

"Colorful, unashamedly campy, and everything basically had that 'your lame parents trying to impress your friends' vibe... and it worked."

"I was born in 87, but I grew up in the 90s. I miss that decade immensely. It was so laid back and carefree (as a child)."

"Everything now takes itself so f**king seriously. It's depressing."

- MateriaMuncher

Before the Crash

"I was reading something about this not too long ago. Compared with much of the previous century, the 90s would have come off as amazing."

"No world wars, the cold war had just ended. The economy was doing very well. The modern tech industry was up and coming and the downsides that we're aware of today hadn't become apparent yet. 9/11 and its aftermath hadn't happened yet."

"Someone growing up in the 90s would have definitely felt pretty optimistic."

- Always_Statsing

What Health Issues?

"We all had health issues and ate the terrible 1990s all-carb diet."

"We just didn't discuss mental health, etc. Those topics were incredibly taboo. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, nobody wanted that diagnosis, nobody wanted to have to be in special needs classes, etc."

"Tony Soprano being public (on tv) about taking Prozac was a HUGE deal."

- imnothereurnotthere

Entertainment on the Rise

"Pretty cool. The Internet was fresh and exciting. Video games were this really creative interactive medium that was seeing rapid development."

"3D animation became a thing and had some really creative TV shows like 'Reboot.' 'Chumbawumba' made us all feel like nothing could keep us down. 'The Simpsons' were a comedy powerhouse."

"Pokemon became an international craze and kids were obsessive about it."

- ILikeToThinkOutLoud

Living Slower

I am super grateful for my coming of age in the 90s! I’ve written about it before, but looking back, it was a great time for a childhood. It was hard to beat Friday night at the local video rental place, perusing the horror VHS movies from the 80s."

"I was born in the early 80s and remember the late 80s well and had my formative years in the 90s. It was actually really amazing, gaming on the early consoles, but having a full life outside that the digital world just didn’t really intrude upon. Playing outdoors on summer days and retiring to the Super Nintendo at night was a really great balance."

"We watched and participated in the growth of the internet, with a pretty solid delineation between a time before the net and the time after. To a middle schooler, getting the internet for the first time was damn near a magical experience."

"Things were slower. We didn’t have instantaneous gratification or access to so much information/goods/services so quickly. Even though I enjoy getting my stuff within a day or two as much as the next yak, I would be lying if I said that we didn’t sacrifice something important for the wonders of same-day shipping."

"In short, I wouldn’t trade my childhood in the ’90s for anything. While I love my awesome gaming PC, my home theater, and above all else, my iPad that I’m typing this out on, I miss the slower-paced world of the 90s and wish we could get a little of that patience back."

- The_Best_Yak_Ever

The Information Age

"Hank Green recently did a video talking about how, in an earlier video he'd joked about the internet being as big a change for society as the printing press. And while he'd originally intended that as joking hyperbole, it's become apparent that it might be an understatement."

"Us born in the 80s kids are more or less the last generation to remember life before the internet. My family had a computer early on, and I'm really nostalgic for the early days of chatrooms and message boards before everyone was online and in these walled gardens."

"It's a little helpful to realize we're still in the early days of the Information Age. It takes time for society to adjust and figure out healthy ways to live with big things like this in our lives."

"It doesn't help, though, that big things like this seem like they're happening at an increasing rate."

- Krail

Knowledge in Your Pocket

"I am still impressed with the idea of literally having a repository of essentially all human knowledge in my pocket."

"Back then you couldn't remember something or wanted to know what was the primary language of a different country? Hope you know someone reliable who knows that or you own an encyclopedia or can get to the library. Good luck with the dewy decimal system in the card catalog."

"The amount of effort to obtain knowledge has become so minute that we should all be smarter than we are but when it's so accessible the value is diminished to some degree."

"I remember seeing on inspector gadget penny his niece have a book that was effectively a mobile computer and videophone and thinking it was pure insanity if that were to ever exist. I am literally typing on such a device now."

"When I saw the internet become accessible on a phone for the first time it was 2006 and my friend's sidekick and I about lost my mind. We are living in the future."

- DanielFyre

I.R.L.

"Everything felt a lot more real, and a lot more wholesome, for the most part. Mind you, I was a child back then so I'm sure I'm biased. Things felt slower. Kids used to play outside whenever they could, and no one was EVER using electronics outside, except for the occasional Walkman."

"I preferred the houses back then a lot since they still had some semblance of beauty and color. Unless you were in a big city, almost everyone had yards. There were a lot more trees everywhere. People weren't just constantly cutting down every single tree in every town for no reason."

"And the average person's language skills were MILES better than they are today."

- RebeccaETripp

Watching a Movie

"When the commercial came on, you RAN to the bathroom. Then your sibling yelled, 'it's back on!' And you RAN back to the couch!"

- chompytown

Snuggled in-between wars and economy crashes, the 1990s felt like a uniquely safe time that we may never fully see again. But it sure is fun to reminisce.

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