12 Things That Were Normal in the 90s But Strange Now

Ah, the ’90s. A decade that feels like a colorful, grunge-infused, dial-up connected moment stuck in time, sandwiched between the neon glow of the ’80s and the digital boom of the new millennium. It was a time when things were simpler, or so we like to think, but also a bit weirder by today’s standards. Let’s look into things that were normal back in the day but would probably make any Gen Z scratch their heads in confusion. Welcome aboard the nostalgia trip!

Rewinding to Be Kind

Remember when watching a movie at home wasn’t as easy as clicking a button? Back then, VHS tapes ruled the entertainment world, and “Be Kind, Rewind” wasn’t just a quirky saying—it was a golden rule. After finishing a movie, you had to rewind the tape all the way back to the beginning. Not doing so was considered a major faux pas.

The Dial-Up Symphony

The unmistakable sound of the internet connecting through a phone line was the soundtrack of the ’90s tech revolution. That screeching and buzzing noise meant you were about to enter the digital world. But heaven forbid someone needed to use the phone while you were online. Yes, you couldn’t use the internet and the phone simultaneously. What a shocker!

MapQuest Roadmaps

Before GPS and smartphones, getting directions for a road trip meant using MapQuest. You’d print out pages of step-by-step directions and hope you didn’t miss a turn. If you did, well, good luck figuring out where you were without a live rerouting feature. It was part adventure, part stress, but all part of the journey.

The Pager Code

Pagers, or beepers, were the text messages of the ’90s. You couldn’t send a full message, just a callback number and maybe a coded message. That is, if you were cool enough to know the lingo. Deciphering a page from a friend or crush was like cracking a secret code. Now, we’re inundated with instant messaging apps, making the idea of a one-way numeric message feel incredibly outdated.

Cassette Tape Magic

Making a mixtape was a labor of love. Recording songs from the radio onto a cassette, timing it perfectly to capture your favorite tunes without the DJ interrupting, was an art form. Mixtapes were personal gifts that required thought, effort, and patience. Today, with streaming services and playlists, the personal touch of a mixtape is a lost art.

The Encyclopedia Set

Before Google became our go-to for every question, actual physical encyclopedias were the treasure troves of knowledge. Homes proudly displayed full sets and researching meant flipping through pages, not tabs. The idea of reaching for a book to answer a question now seems almost quaint.

Blockbuster Nights

Friday nights were Blockbuster nights. Browsing aisles for the perfect movie to rent was an event in itself, complete with the smell of popcorn and the excitement of finding a new release. Late fees were the bane of our existence, but it was all part of the experience. Streaming services might be convenient, but they lack the tangible joy of a Blockbuster visit.

The Floppy Disk Save

The floppy disk wasn’t just an icon for saving files; it was the actual method of data storage. These plastic squares held a whopping 1.44 MB of data. Today, that’s barely enough to store a single photo, but back then, it was essential for transporting documents and files. The concept of cloud storage would have seemed like science fiction.

Chat Room Socializing

Before social media, chat rooms were the place to be online. Entering “A/S/L?” was your introduction, and making friends with strangers from around the world was the norm. It was a mysterious and thrilling digital frontier, vastly different from the curated feeds and profiles we have now.

Payphone Preparedness

Having a quarter for a payphone was essential outside communication. Whether you were calling for a ride or checking in, payphones were your lifeline when out and about. Today, the thought of using a public phone, let alone finding one, is a rarity.

TV Guide Timing

Want to know what’s on TV? You’d consult the TV Guide, a physical booklet or a specific channel that listed programming schedules. Planning your evening around a TV show’s airing time was common practice. Streaming on-demand has rendered the concept of “missing” a show almost obsolete.

The Discman Skip

Listening to music on the go meant carrying a Discman and a booklet of CDs. But beware, the skip! Every bump or jostle could interrupt your jam. With our smartphones and seamless digital music, the painstaking effort to keep it steady seems ludicrous now.

The Library Catalogue

Researching meant going to the library and using the card catalog or the early computer systems to find books. It was a tactile, sometimes tedious process, but finding what you needed was immensely satisfying. Now, with information at our fingertips, the act of physical research is a rare endeavor.

Handwritten Letters

Pen pals were a thing; writing letters was how you kept in touch with long-distance friends and family. The excitement of receiving a handwritten letter is unmatched, even by today’s instant messaging. It’s a personal touch that’s fading away in our digital age.

Floppy Hair and Frosted Tips

And, of course, how can we forget about the fashion statements—specifically, the hairstyles? Floppy hair for the guys, à la Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic,” and frosted tips that seemed to be a staple for every boy band. Hairstyles that were the height of cool now serve as amusing throwbacks to a different era.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *