What was life in the 1990s like?

I would like to know from you guys. What was life like back in the 1990s? What do you remember from it? Obviously I was too young to remember the 90s.

I’m reporting this for a forum change. I’m sure the answers will be much more informative, and probably amusing if we get away from that troublesome “factual information” requirement in GQ.

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While there are aspects of 90s culture that can be cited factually, the OP seems to be looking more for personal experiences. Since this is more of an informal poll than a factual question, let’s move it over to IMHO.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Just watch the original Beverly Hills 90210. That’s exactly what the 90’s were like.

It was a peaceful interlude for us in the US. The Berlin Wall and the USSR fell in 89-90, and we had about ten years of only minor incidents (e.g. Desert Storm) with no “Evil Empire” looming in the distance. In the 80’s the Evil Empire was the Eastern Bloc, and after 2001 the Evil Empire was Islamic terrorism.

That’s a pretty open-ended question. Life was much like it is today, without smart phones or flat TVs. The music was different, and the clothes, and the cars, but other than that I don’t remember it being remarkably different. Birds flew, fish swam, water was still wet.

Of course the internet was a lot slower back then, and Lady Gaga was called “Madonna” in those days.

I remember when we first discovered how to make fire. Man, did that make life easier! No more trying to keep a single fire lit for months on end. No more begging the neighbors for some of their fire when yours went out.

Major incidents:

Desert Storm, O. J. Simpson murder trial (the infamous bloody glove one), Bill Clinton scandal (Monica Lewinsky/“Zippergate”), the Unabomber, Lorena Bobbitt, Hong Kong turnover, Timothy McVeigh, Branch Davidians/David Koresh (Waco seige), Tokyo Subway sarin attack.

Rap music was good compared to today’s brag music. Alternative music was still freshly evolving from the great music of the '80’s.

KROQ on 106.7FM in Southern California was still independent.

I had almost no responsibilities. I got laid a lot.

The '90’s were a good time.

Oh, and the rise of home internet access too (1996/1997 was sort of the watershed age).

And those two sort of went together in a silly joke (remember this was when most people were only just discovering the internet and might not have used it much, if at all).

Q: Did you hear that OJ Simpson has an email address?



slash slash backslash, slash slash backslash, escape.

Here’s my memory of it.

In the early 70s, you had the hippie counter-culture which was all about rejecting the standard way of doing things and trying to make a better world (and also sex and drugs and woohoo!). Towards the end of the 70s you had a cultural shift away from the hippies and towards the disco generation. Things became more polished. Guys in ragged earthy clothes with beards and long hair were out and clean shaven guys with short hair were in. By the time the 80s were in full swing, it was Alex P. Keaton and electronic new wave music all the way.

For most of the 20th century, culture tended to swing back and forth, and the 90s were no exception. Things started swinging back towards the way they had been in the 70s (and in the 50s beatnicks before that). Smooth and polished like Alex P. Keaton was out, and Nirvanna grunge was in. The cultural voice wasn’t as strong, though. Each of the generations before it had been much better defined. The hippies were making the world better. The 80s yuppies were making themselves better (screw the world, we want money and Wall Street!). The 90s didn’t seem to have so much definition. Some folks called it the lost generation or generation X. While Nirvanna was often cited as the typical voice of the generation, there were a lot of folks saying that Nirvanna didn’t speak for them.

The hip-hop MTV culture really began to take hold.

And basically, since then, very little has changed.The hip-hop MTV culture still dominates. Music and culture have pretty much stagnated since then. Grunge is a bit less popular, but if you want to know what music and culture were like back then, it’s not much different than now.

The only dramatic change is the internet. The world was much less connected back then. Cell phones were rare, though they got smaller, cheaper, and more popular throughout the 90s. Smart phones and information at your fingertips just wasn’t there. The internet started long before the 90s, but in the 90s it transitioned from something that only weird computer geeks (like me) used to something that mainstream everyday people used. Almost everyone soon had a computer in their home, a nice big clunky desktop. Everything going small and portable came later.

Economically, the early 90s were in the dumpster. The “spend spend spend, put it all on credit” mentality of the 80s resulted in massive debts in the late 80s and early 90s. This caused massive economic stagnation. Things got better in the late 90s, then slowly went downhill and have never really recovered since.

That’s my memory of it, FWIW.

With respect to personal tech, it was a time of incredible change.

No Internet at all, really, for the first half of the decade, and depending on where you were, somewhere around 1997 or 1998 dial-up finally reached speeds (28.8) that made Web-surfing possible without growing old waiting for that next page to load. By the end of the decade, broadband was finally getting traction.

Computers themselves went from low-capacity and expensive early in the decade to relatively cheap and a lot more speed and memory by the end of it. Hell, in 1990, 5.25" floppies were still in frequent use, and their absurdly small (by today’s standards) storage of what, 360kb, was something you actually needed and used. Think on that!

Cell phones? In 1990, they were pretty much limited to cars because they needed the power and a big-ass antenna, and they were for people who were either wealthy or had a professional need for them. By the end of the decade, most people who wanted one could afford one, and you could carry them around in a shirt pocket.

Really, so much stuff we take for granted now basically didn’t exist in 1990.

All the damn computer programs had to be changed to allow for a 4 digit year.
Dozens of files had to be reformatted, thousands of programs had to be changed.
Talk about flipping boring. Do you have any idea what it is like to go through program after program making the same damn change in each one?

Everybody was sure that life as we know it was going to change overnight.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. AOL discs used as coasters. I watched music videos on MTV and Tim Allen on prime time TV. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

There was broadly based economic growth. There were lots of jobs, low inflation. The decade ended with budget surpluses. There was a steady drop in the crime rate.

Nevertheless, lots of white men hated Clinton. This was probably lingering fallout from the War in Vietnam. Many Americans still were angry that the United States lost the war, and that many who demonstrated against the war were prospering. Bill and Hillary Clinton were obvious examples of prosperous war protestors.

There were a lot fewer tattooed people.

I watched Clueless two days ago, and it was like going back in time. They had mobile phones that ten years ago would have looked ridiculously huge, but now only look ridiculously thick. The fashions and makeup, the music. What a great trip down memory lane.

The internet has made us all far more interconnected than we were back then. I don’t think things have dramatically changed in other ways.

Used to be if you weren’t at home, you were pretty much unreachable and disconnected from the world. Now, we’re all constantly tethered to society via texts and Facebook.

In 1995 (after seeing REM on the Monster tour, to make it even more grounded in the 90s) I broke down 15 miles outside the nearest city or service area, at 3 in the morning, and I had to walk until somebody stopped and picked me up which took about an hour. That wouldn’t happen to most people these days as we’re always a phone call and GPS signal away from help at any time - most of the time.

For me, the early 90’s were cool, the mid 90’s were a drag, the latter 90’s were definitely cool. Same for the 80’s, 70’s and 60’s. - Puberty happened during the late 60’s, college and punk during the late 70’s, late 80’s the love thing happened. Blew town for good in the late 90’s. Yeah, end of the decade has been Fun Fun Fun. Don’t remember the 2000’s. Just coasting now.

Watch You’ve Got Mail. That does a pretty good job of capturing the late 90s zeitgeist as I remember it. Everything was email (on dial-up), exciting new coffee drinks, and exciting big bookstores.