Gen X'ers Are Sharing The Things People Get Wrong About The '90s

The '90s ended 25 years ago, which means we're now as far removed from 1999 as 1999 was from 1974. I bring this up because in the '90s there was a lot of nostalgia and fascination for the '70s, even if we tended to just associate the decade with only a handful of things, like disco and bell-bottom pants.

Person in a patterned shirt and vest holding a disco ball, wearing sunglasses and posing confidently
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Obviously, the further we move away from a time period the harder it is to remember every little trend and thing that happened — and with '90s nostalgia that is what's happening now. It was with that in mind that I recently stumbled upon a Reddit thread from a few months ago where user IndieSyndicate asked Gen X'ers: "What do people get wrong about the '90s?"

VHS tape with "BACK TO THE 90's" label on a purple background
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Below are some of the best and most-often-repeated comments:

1."Not all Gen X'ers were disinterested slackers in the '90s."

GIF from Beck's "Loser" video

2."The '90s was a lot more analog than it’s presented. People still read newspapers and magazines. Cellphones were not ubiquitous. Cassette tapes and VHS tapes still dominated."

A VCR with VHS tapes on top
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3."Nobody seems to talk about all the maroon and hunter green wallpaper borders that were added to the top of the walls in houses. Maroon and hunter green were everywhere. From cars to vacuums to bedding and beyond."

Two shower curtains with mismatched patterns hang side by side

4."Money was tight then, too. People were happy with fewer luxuries, because we could get by. And the very idea of giving a child a device worth hundreds of dollars was ludicrous! I still feel this way."

Young girl sits on steps, focused on writing in a book, with a plush toy beside her
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5."The early '90s and late '90s were two very different times culturally. I can't stand it when I see a picture of the Spice Girls with a 'So '90s!' caption."

The Spice Girls


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6."That Nirvana ruled the '90s, and killed off all other forms of hard rock. They hit hard for about two and a half years, and then we were stuck with Tonic and the Spin Doctors."

Closeup of Nirvana
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7."Grunge always seems to get the spotlight, but an overwhelming number of people were pretty preppy actually. We did, after all, make household names out of the Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, etc."

Storefront of "the GAP" with mannequins wearing casual attire
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8."The rave scene was bigger and better than anyone seems to remember."

Crowded dance floor with people enjoying a party
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9."That 'mom jeans' were cool. No one under 35 wore them — they looked like shit."

Four women in high-waisted jeans and casual tops, posing confidently with hands on hips

10."The '80s never really went away. There were a lot of people who hated the new directions in music, fashion, TV, and movies in the '90s, and held on to their '80s fashions, Aqua Net, and mullets with a righteous fervor."

Woman in 1980s style attire holding a cassette player, with retro headphones
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11."I don't think the riot grrrl movement gets enough recognition and acknowledgment as an extremely significant '90s cultural event."

Kathleen Hannah onstage
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12."That the '90s were some kind of utopia. There was a lot of good things, but the '90s were violent, and there were way more -ism’s on display."

Police car with open door parked outside a building
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13."The fashions! For some reason younger people think that '90s fashion is what the characters on Saved by the Bell wore. Okay, yes, that was very much the fashion at that time, but that show was filmed in 1990–92, and what they wore looked more late '80s. By the mid-to-late '90s, fashions were so different that the style from the show was passé."

The cast of "Saved by the Bell"


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14."Everything was 'X-TREME!' They were still marketing to us then. I spent the whole early aughts saying 'Green' is the new 'X-TREME.'"

Four friends posing closely together, expressing camaraderie in an outdoor, sunny setting

15."Internet being widely available. So many TV shows and movies show teenagers in the supposedly early and mid-'90s sitting in their bedrooms chatting online on their personal computers or being 'hackers,' and I'm like, 'B*tch in 1994, I didn't even know what the internet was,' and I didn't really get home internet until 1999 (in the one and only computer of the house), and neither did anyone I knew, even the rich kids at school didn't care or know about it. Back then you spent your time either out of the house or at home watching TV."

Two individuals intently looking at an old computer screen, vintage setting, possibly exploring early internet content
Jonathan Elderfield / Getty Images

16."A lot of people mention grunge and gangsta rap, but country was very hot, too. Country line dancing became a big thing, and artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain were huge and making tons of money."

People in casual attire dancing in a hall decorated with bunting
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17."I loved the '90s so much. But people do forget that homophobia was even worse than we remember."

Homer Simpson from 'The Simpsons' delivers a comedic line concerning his preferences in a meme format
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18."That everyone loved Kurt Cobain and/or that Nirvana and him even 'spoke' for an entire generation."

Kurt Cobain on "MTV Unplugged"
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19.Lastly, "I also don't think people really understand just how much people smoked then either. Smoking in the car with your kids in it, at McDonald's, at school, etc."

Close-up of a person smoking a cigarette, focusing on the hand and lips exhaling smoke
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You can read the original thread on Reddit.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.