Only 90’s Kids Will Read This

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It seems like all millennials are talking about these days is the newest iOS update. Well that, and the nineties. Cries of “only 90’s kids will remember this!” and “when is Recess coming back to TV?!” are ringing out across the world wide web, and nothing has been able to silence them. But why? What’s so great about the nineties? Why is Gen Y SO nostalgic?

Nickelodeon’s recent announcement regarding the inception of a new network, The Splat, has everyone riled up about shows like All That and Hey Arnold! coming back to TV, and it got me thinking, too. In my last blog, I talked a little bit about the unique nostalgia that Gen Y has the opportunity to experience. Most of this nostalgia is based in technology, but media plays a large role in that as well. Millennials seem to be obsessed with the characters and way of life that was presented through television, Nickelodeon in particular. In a recent episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Kenan and Kel reunited for a sketch that has audiences around the world smiling their faces off. Since the premier of the sketch on September 23, the YouTube video has over 8 million views.

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Now nostalgia isn’t just about wishing you could go back to the days of slap bracelets and Backstreet Boys. There’s actually a little bit of science that helps explain why nostalgia is so powerful when it comes to media. The media we consume as children and young adults, music in particular, is so important to us because we were listening and watching at a time when we were just starting to gain our own interests and opinions in the world. A recent scientific study suggests that 14 is the key age to develop this kind of relationship with media. Because of hormones and the transitional period we go through during puberty, our emotional responses to music and other media are heightened to the point where they can make a lasting impression on us. Is that why I can’t control my emotions when I hear “Welcome to the Black Parade” in public? It’s possible.

At what point do we stop being nostalgic and start becoming grumpy old people who hate new trends just because they’re new? Click To Tweet

But beyond the science, exactly what is it about these “classic” cartoons and games that millennials love so much? There’s so much pride among the members of Gen Y that grew up in the nineties, but you never hear anyone complaining that they miss Reeboks and mom jeans. There are good parts and bad parts to every era, and the nineties is no exception. I mean, really? Have you seen the horror that is JNCO jeans?

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Fashion aside, we complain that the quality of media was inherently better when we were younger. A lot of gaming systems like the Nintendo Gameboy are mourned and sought after today, but truthfully the quality of games and other media (at least visually) has improved over the last 15 years. New can be good and bad, but the way I see it the important thing is to keep an open mind to it all. Whine and complain all you want that Girl Meets World isn’t as great as Boy Meets World, but you can’t deny that the new show fits today’s youth better than it fits us. At what point do we stop being nostalgic and start becoming grumpy old people who hate new trends just because they’re new?

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The truth is, it’s easier to look back on the past than it is to look into the future. As someone who is uncertain of what the future holds, I find myself looking back for comfort and a smile more and more often. We can’t be kids forever, and there comes a time when we all need to move forward. But remembering the good stuff isn’t such a bad thing every now and then and if that means going to your local bar’s nineties karaoke night, then don a scrunchie and go nuts (just don’t forget to appreciate how far fashion has come since then).

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