the 1990s, Kurt Cobain, Bill Clinton

Kurt Cobain, Blockbuster Video, Bill Clinton.

The 1990s was a sweet spot in American history. The stifling Cold War with the Soviet Union had just come to the end in 1989 and it would still be 12 years before a new era of fear after the 9/11 attacks.

The 1990s was also a time of prosperity that lifted up Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum and an era that saw unprecedented peace in the world. In fact, things were going so well in America that President Clinton managed to have a budget surplus four years in a row.

The '90s was also the last gasp of the analog era when people couldn't contact you 24/7 and did things for the pure joy of it instead for the likes and shares.

To say that the '90s was the last great American decade may be looking back with rose-colored glasses but it's obvious that as we've entered this new era dominated by technology, we left behind a lot of things that brought us joy. Many of us wouldn't mind having them back.

A recent Reddit thread asked "What do you miss about the '90s?" and the answers will take you back to a time that most of us remember fondly. Will people ever say that about the 2020s? Only time will tell.


1. You made plans without having to text people.

"Before we had mobile phones, my wife and I would plan to meet at a certain street corner at a certain time after work. We sometimes had to wait for the other person to show up, but we knew they would." — i_will_be_dead

2. The world was clearly changing for the better.

"There was a period between the Cold War and the War on Terror when it seemed like there was hope for the world." — igetasticker

3. Friday nights at home with the family.

"Blockbuster/Pizza Hut on Friday nights." — EdwardPackard

4. People left you alone.

"Not being contactable 24/7. Peace of leaving school/work and not having to deal with their nonsense till tomorrow." — Soma_Tweaker

5. Air travel without the stress.

"Did you know that before 9/11, it wasn't a massive pain in the ass to go fucking anywhere?! Loved ones could walk you right to the gate. You could bring snacks, sandwiches, and drinks onto the plane with you. The prices at Hudson News were perfectly reasonable, because if they weren't, you could just walk out of the terminal and grab something." — GavinBelsonsAlexa


6. The mall.

"Malls were awesome, and I hate that the strip mall style has taken over. Especially up in Canada, where it gets to -40 in the winter. Back in the day you could legitimately spend hours wandering the mall, indoors and warm. Now it is depressing. Maybe the big malls like Mall of America or West Edmonton Mall are still okay, but the ones in my city are shit." — Lexi_Banner

7. Following a scene.

"In the '90s I would walk to my local record shop and talk to the guy. He would recognize me and ask about my thoughts on the Offspring album I bought last time I was in, and then recommend something that just came in from some guys called Green Day.

I'd then give a listen on the wall-mounted headphone player and take it home. Then, the whole next week would listen to nothing else... It was kind of great." — Koro

8. A genuine good time.

"I think people are more concerned with posting something and going viral now. I really hate that you can just be minding your business, doing something with family or friends and enjoying yourself, and somebody will randomly record what you're doing so they can call you 'corny' and get likes and views." — Enviornmental-Bank81

9. Magazines.

"Everyone had their favorites for whatever hobby or interest you had. For me it was 'Guitar World,' picking up the issues with bands I loved and plinking along to the tab on my crappy electric guitar! For my wife it was 17, checking out the most recent trends!" — JackFairy80

10. Hanging out.

"Honestly the thing I miss the most, and the thing that is so hard to explain to modern kids, is 'hanging out.' Before cell phones, people used to just go to each other's homes, or to some public space, and just spend time together." — Vambot5

11. Making mix tapes.

"It was so much fun to make them, carefully trying to fit as much as you could in the limited amount of time that you had, but still making each song work with the next. Getting one was just as thrilling, especially if you just put it on without looking at the tracklist (if whoever made it included one) and being surprised by each new song." — Edgar

12. Music mattered more.

"Music felt more special because you kind of had to take some risks when buying a cd. At best you could listen to it at one of the stations in the store, but other times you might have heard a song on the radio or watched a music video on MTV. I bought some albums where only the song I liked was good, but still tried to appreciate it all." — plentyfunk66

13. Less pressure to be perfect.

"Nowadays due to social media, especially sites like Instagram, so many young people feel like it's necessary to always be dressed well, always wear a full face of make-up, etc. Sure, we had unrealistic beauty standards and plastic surgery before, but to me it feels like it's gotten much, much worse and also much more uniform than before." — Owezara

14. No 24-hour news cycle.

"Maybe I'm in a minority, but I for one REALLY miss NOT having a 24-hour news cycle. Once that became a thing, it basically prevented journalists from actually doing thorough research before splitting 'information' on TV to satiate their corporate owners." — Minerva_Madin

15. People talked to one another.

"I miss going to coffee shops or bars and being able to meet new random people. I made some of my best friends that way. Now folks just leer up from their phones more often than not." – Shiller_Killer

16. People watched concerts instead of filming them.

"Concerts weren't a sea of phones in the air. People are so concerned with people knowing they were at a concert via social media, that they don't even pay attention or experience the show. It's so dumb." — thebestmike

17. Brick-and-mortar stores.

"I still think this is underrated. Yes now we have a much much wider selection of stuff available instantly, but it used to be extremely fun to go out on a Sunday, go to a record store or video rental store with your friends, discuss options and settle on one." — Humble Shoulder

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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