If you’re a member of Generation X like I am, it’s easy to wax nostalgic about how life was when we were growing up. It’s also a lot of fun because some aspects of pop culture are exclusive to the Gen X experience. An online question-and-answer community asked users to define the most significant things that forever identify Gen X, and this list took me down memory lane.
Table of Contents
1. Homemade Mix Tapes
Long before the invention of digital music files and satellite radio, recalls one commenter, if you wanted a copy of your favorite song without buying the whole album, you’d call the radio station, request a particular song, and have your cassette recorder or boom box ready to record the song as soon as it was in rotation.
Saving your quarters to play video games at the neighborhood arcade – usually located inside a shopping mall – was the thing to do, says another responder on the thread, especially if you didn’t have an expensive Atari system at home.
3. Compact Discs
A music fan in the online community describes their “massive CD collection neatly stored in binders for easy access.” Remember the album cover booklets from the plastic CD cases?
4. No Cell Phones
Gen X is known as the last generation to be unreachable since cell phones didn’t exist. For one user, this was great because they could be gone for hours, and no one, not even their parents, knew where they were or how to reach them.
5. Swatch Watches
These brightly colored watches and the optional rubber guards that protected the watch face from scratches were the must-have accessories in the mid-to-late 1980s. Wearing more than one Swatch at a time was hip and fashionable.
6. Console Televisions
Every member of Generation X recalls the time when televisions didn’t have remote controls, one contributor opines. If anyone wanted to change the channel, they had to get up, walk to the tv and turn the channel knob manually. Also, tv back then only had three channels. You could get a fourth channel if you align the rabbit ears correctly.
7. Latchkey Kids
Multiple people recount that arriving home from school before their parents came home was a mini taste of freedom and independence. Latchkey was when there weren’t after-school daycare programs for adolescents. Today, having a latchkey kid may warrant a visit from a child protective services agency.
8. Blockbuster Video
Going to Blockbuster Video on a Friday night to rent movies on VHS tape brings back pleasant memories for movie lovers online. A not-so-nice memory was the additional charges added if you didn’t fully rewind the tape before returning it.
9. Trapper Keepers
If you were a student and didn’t have a Trapper Keeper organizing binder, you needed more time to be ready for school. They are making a comeback and sold in big box retail stores, informs one Trapper Keeper fan.
10. Crank Calls
Several posters on the thread mention anonymous crank calls and how they were possible because this was before Caller ID.
11. Columbia House Collection Notices
An apparent recipient of a collection notice remembers Columbia House. The company was a mail-in record club that used to allow users to buy a bunch of albums for a dollar on the condition of completing a full-price purchase each month. If you failed to live up to your bargain, those collection notices would start coming in.
12. MTV Music Videos
Numerous Gen Xers recall when MTV played music videos day and night. It was routine to rush home from school to watch the newest video release from Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince.
13. Nintendo Game Cartridges
Blowing inside the open end of the cartridge to dislodge any dust or debris preventing the game from playing in the console.
14. Bartles & Jaymes
Back then, drinking a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler was a rite of passage for young Gen X adults who mistakenly believed they were sophisticated drinkers.
15. Rapper’s Delight
A user evokes the Sugar Hill Gang by reciting the words to the unofficial Gen X anthem: “I said a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie To the hip hip hop-a you don’t stop the rock It to the bang-bang boogie, say up jump the boogie To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat….
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