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A few months ago, I saw a lengthy post in IWasteSoMuchTime.com about what makes one a '90s kid. It listed various things people bought and shows they watched and so on.

     And I don't like that. I don't like the idea of defining one's childhood according to the things you bought -- or more accurately, the things that were bought for you. I don't like the idea of forgetting what happened in a generation. A lot of big things happened when we '90s kids were growing up, and many of them had an effect on us. 

I present a revised list. There is much entertainment on here, as well, but it's not the only thing.

Note that this list is from an American perspective, as will become clear. Just thought I'd warn you ahead of time.

 

You might be a '90s kid if...

 

...You were born in the '90s (duh.)

 

...You were born in the '80s but mostly remember the '90s.

 

...You witnessed popular culture becoming somewhat more vulgar, as the Moral Guardians began to lose their sway. There was no easy way to censor the internet, and we '90s kids revelled in this freedom. Some of us did it a little too much. Some of us did it a lot too much. That's what anonymity does to some people.

 

...You were born into a culture that began to take women's issues more seriously. I guess that's true of many decades, but it's a bit different this time -- maybe this time women won't find their rights rolled back like they did in the '50s. It's the question of women's rights as a facet of human rights, especially since women make most of the world's poor people. That's harder to ignore than before. Better access to birth control helps too. And this time, perhaps we can address the idea that "women gaining rights = men becoming less manly."

 

...You grew up with the Internet, saw it become what it is today, and likely took advantage of this. In the past 20 years, the distribution of entertainment has escaped the grasp of the huge companies that formerly controlled most channels. This is not only in terms of music, but also games, stories, comics, news, etc.

 

...You saw Nerd culture celebrated for the first time, at least in terms of the entertainment it produced. 

 

...You began to use certain British words in your own speech and writing. Possibly this was because of J.K. Rowling, but the Internet also helped. 

 

...You saw Graphic Novels become a serious and (slowly) respected literary form. 

 

...You read about Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire breaking the home-run record. Later you learned that McGwire took steroids

 

...You read about Barry Bonds, and by this time knew enough about steroid abuse to be suspicious of him.

 

...You still read newspapers, at least when you were younger. You may have read newspapers that have since folded.

 

...You were too young to buy into the Dotcom bubble, but old enough to buy a house and then lose it to the 2008 market collapse. Although you could have been a litttle bitty baby in 2008 and still been thrown out of the house; eviction agents have no mercy.

 

...You were born into the prosperity that made people think housing prices would always rise.

 

...You were born into a poorer status, but did your best to move up, always following the American Dream. Then you lost your house to the 2008 market collapse, because you couldn't actually afford it; some sleazeball sold you a risky mortgage. So you paid the price for this risk, and the people who were also responsible received no punishment. Some of them even got a bunch of money from the government.

 

...You were born black, and saw modest gains in Civil Rights, but nothing major. The schools remained about the same, as well as the chances of getting into higher education. The O.J. Simpson controversy, and the riots in L.A., made it clear that racial relations in America had a long way to go.

 

...You were born Latino, and saw the rise of debates over illegal immigration, mostly in the form of condemning such immigrants. Even if you knew a few illegal immigrants who were quite nice, the white folks only seemed to see them as stealers of jobs. Also, if you were a young man right after 9/11, you might have been mistaken as an Arab Muslim Terrorist and rounded up with a bunch of actual Arabs.

 

...You were born into a Muslim family, and after 9/11 saw your religion equated with terrorism, as well as a disturbingly large number of people who couldn't stand a single insult to Islam. Even though using islam to justify the destruction of the World Trade Center is also an insult to the religion. It definitely caused more pain for muslims in America and the Middle East than any cartoon mocking Muhummad ever could.

 

...You witnessed any or all of the last 6 entries, but were too young to fully understand. It's more difficult to deal with people being mean when you don't know why.

 

...You grew up as a girl amidst widespread images of unrealistic body proportions, more difficult to attain than ever before. 

 

...You grew up in the midst of Third-wave feminism.

 

...You grew up in a culture that was begininning to accept female sexuality  and understand it from women's point of view.

 

...You were a kid when state legislature began to restrict the legality of abortion.

 

...You're too young to remember a time when the world was divided into Communists and Non-Communists.

 

...Much of your life has seen the country divided into Red and Blue states, at least in the way the news talks about them.

 

...The first huge electoral controversy you ever witnessed was between Bush and Gore. Likely as not, you weren't paying attention to the campaign before what happened in Florida. Neither was most of the country. It was a boring campaign, unless you were paying attention to Ralph Nader.

 

...The first  big war you ever lived through was the War on Terror. Really the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. "War on Terror" sounds cooler, and it's less specific, so it never has to end. Yay?

 

...You were the same age as Elian Gonzalez, only you were probably safe at home while he became a political football. 

 

...You were too young to remember much of Bill Clinton, except for all that hulabaloo over what he did to Monica Lewinsky. What did he do? Go ask your father. Go ask your mother. (There are some things parents don't want to explain, even if they should.)

 

...You're about old enough to be ready to start working. Too bad there isn't much available. 

 

...You were in college when Facebook first appeared, and you were one of the first to join the site.

 

...You're homosexual or bisexual, and grew up in a culture that slowly began to accept you. You had to go through a lot of people talking about "family values" and picketing funerals and refusing to let you marry, but your generation is something new for America: one that accepts gay people without much question. (Your grandparents probably remember a time when homosexuality was illegal, and only spoken of discreetly.) 

 

  Of course, you still have to deal with bullying, if you're still in secondary school, and people using "gay" as a synonym for "stupid." Acceptance has a ways to go, and marriage is only the first step. 

 

...You're transgender, and grew up in the first two decades that people had much idea of what that meant. Lately it's translated to slightly better acceptance and medical coverage.

 

...You grew up seeing prejudices begin to disappear more quickly than before. Overt prejudices, at least. Ignorance remains. Even if you know you're supposed to be a nice person, it's easy to say something stupid because you don't know better. For example: I once called one of my friends a mulatto. I had no idea it could be offensive. Whoops.

 

...You're too young to remember when New York was a crime-ridden place that smelt of urine. Really, it did.

 

...You're too young to remember when Detroit and Flint were not crime-ridden hellholes.

 

...You're too young to remember when cellphones were the size of bricks, with about the same reception. Now they're all these tiny little things. Some of them still get brick-like reception though. Pity the people who buy AT&T cell phone service.

 

...You don't find it odd that you're carrying a computer in your pocket. What? It's just an iphone.

 

...Your first memory of Apple computers was that they kind of sucked. This was after their 1980s heyday, but before the iMac changed the aesthetics of appliances everywhere. Nobody really needs to remember the Apple computers of the 1990s, except the people who designed them. They will always carry that shame. Always.

 

...You grew up with Apple being the "counterculture" computer, when Microsoft was still the Giant Evil Corporation. Now Apple has taken its place. This is why I don't like the idea of defining yourself according to your purchases: the big companies don't care about you or your identity, except where it makes them money, and by buying a bunch of stuff you're just suporting them.

 

... if you were in the Northern U.S., your early years had cold winters, which began to stop happening for some reason. Now if you're on the northeast coast, or in the midwest south of Minnesota, winter weather is kind of a crapshoot. 

 

...You were too young to do much about it, but nevertheless saw the debates about Global Warming. Which seemed to consist mostly of politicians putting their fingers in their ears and going "la la la la, I can't hear you." Denial only works for the monster under your bed.

 

...You were in school when the shooting at Columbine happened. You might have had to go through metal detectors every morning afterwards. 

 

...Your schools tried to adress the issue of bullying, for the first time. Some more seriously than others.

 

...You didn't read all the way to the end of this list, because who has the time for that? Say, I wonder what's on Reddit.


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