If you’ve recently turned 30 (like this writer), you’ll no doubt have discovered that the world is a very different place to what it was merely 20 years ago. Better? Worse? That’s very difficult to say. It’s simply… different. Growing up in the 90s and the early 2000s was a special time, and though kids these days would actually laugh out loud at some of the things we had, or the way we loved our cartoons. But we were happy and knew of nothing else.
If we’re going to take a quick jump back in time, it’s easier if we look at several categories and think of what’s been altered and what has perhaps stayed more or less the same in those 20 years.
I would expect nothing else than for music to have evolved over that time. Shania Twain, Savage Garden, Celine Dion and Backstreet Boys were tearing up the charts around 1998, and I don’t know about you, but I would say most people wouldn’t be caught dead playing anything from those artists nowadays. In 2018, rap and dance appear to be far more favorable genres, with Drake, Zedd, Nicki Minaj and Post Malone all major players in the music scene. Music will be totally different in another 20 years, make no mistake. Of course, CD sales have dropped significantly due to music streaming services like Spotify, but this has opened up so many more paths for finding new artists and listening to our favorites.
Inexorably changed. Cell phones were around, but it was more of a special privilege to have one, and not everyone did. If you were a lucky one, you likely had the “brick” phone: Nokia 3310. It was ugly, small, and couldn’t do much other than text and call, but really, some would argue that that’s all a phone should do. Calling a landline number was very common in 1998, and if you wanted to chat to your friend, you’d likely talk with his or her mother for a while if she answered the phone. Teenagers today are practically born with a large-screen iPhone or Galaxy in their hand and are constantly texting on WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, but having a mobile phone back in 1998 didn’t seem particularly important to us.
Even though we consume movies much more frequently through streaming platforms like Netflix and iTunes, going to the cinema is as popular as ever, and in a weird way, movies in general aren’t crazily different than they were 20 years ago. We still have big budget blockbusters, indie dramas, cute animations, romantic flicks, World War II epics, gross-out comedies, and gritty crime films. Of course, the CGI is arguably a lot better and there are far more superhero movies than ever before, but if you put on a film from 1998 right now, I don’t think many teenagers would balk like they would with music from 20 years ago. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Armageddon, The Big Lebowksi, The Truman Show, A Bug’s Life, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and even There’s Something About Mary still hold up remarkably well and would entertain as much as they did back in the day.
Social media in 1998 was practically non-existent. Myspace came along in 2003 and was a huge game-changer, as we all raced to pimp out our pages and make sure our Top Friends list was in order. Before that, however, we had things like MSN Messenger to keep in touch after school, but we certainly weren’t uploading selfies anywhere or dropping hilarious Tweets in order to get those precious ‘likes’. Funnily enough, social media has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, as it has transpired that Facebook hasn’t been properly securing users’ data, and that the company can read every message sent with the native app. This has likely turned many people away from social media and caused them to think about deleting their Facebook account.
Major sports such as cricket, soccer, American football, or basketball might feel different in terms of the stars headlining the teams, but in a way not much has changed. There might be no Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls, but there’s LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers instead. There’s no John Elway for the Denver Broncos, but there’s Tom Brady for the New England Patriots. Every year, new players are paid exorbitant salaries to play sports, fans cheer and boo in equal measure, teams rise and teams fall, and we witness some incredible athletic feats again and again.
Life will always change every year, you can either long for the good old days, or move with the times and make the best out of it. The 90s were great, but 2018 is also a good time, let’s just stop arguing which was better and do our best to be good people.