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90s

Do kids these days even know what "rewind" means?

Every generation has its slang and catchphrases that eventually become outdated. But in the modern age, there are also some totally normal, everyday phrases that become totally obsolete by the time the next generation comes along.

Millennials are still viewed as young by a lot of the boomer generation, but they're solidly hitting the middle age stage where the Gen Zers and Gen Alphas don't know what they're talking about when they reference their own childhood in the 90s: "What do you mean your phone was attached to the wall when you were a kid? And you really had no idea who was calling you?" Yep and yep, youngsters.

In the digital age, with technology moving incredibly fast, this generational phenomenon has become even more marked. Just for funsies, millennials on Reddit are sharing phrases they heard growing up that kids today will never hear, and it's quite a nostalgic trip.


"We'll look it up when we get home." – Wazzen

Ah, the days before smartphones and cellular data. That's right, kids. We only had internet at home and at internet cafés, so if we were curious about something, we had to wait to look it up. (And we also had to wait for the dial-up internet to connect, complete with the screechy-scratchy garbley noise we'll never forget.)

Speaking of which:

"You've got mail!" – Nate16

There was a whole movie based on this phrase, which was how AOL (America OnLine—one of the big internet companies of the 90s) let you know that you had email in your inbox after you got connected to the internet. A cheery voice announced, "You've got mail!" Can you even imagine? So quaint.

man on a landline phone

Cell phones as we know them were just a futuristic idea.

Photo by Jimmy Jimmy/Pexels

"“I got it!!!” When the house phone rang. – KatyDid749

See, the "house phone" was the landline telephone—the one connected to the wall—that the whole family shared. When we knew a friend was going to call, we'd clamor to be the one to answer because otherwise your friend had to go through the mortifying experience of saying, "May I please speak to so-and-so?" Saving our friends from such horror was a mark of true friendship. Plus if it was a love interest that called, there's no way you wanted your mom or dad to answer.

Someone is "calling long distance" – shakeyjake

Back in the olden days of the 90s, if you wanted to call someone outside of your town, you had to pay extra money for it. And the farther away they were, the more expensive it was. It was called "long-distance calling," and it was a standard feature of our lives. Want to call someone internationally? Might have to sell a kidney to pay for that. The ability to not just call but video call people in other countries, and without paying anything extra, the way we do now? We barely even dared to dream we might see something like that in our lifetimes.

Describing the internet as an "information superhighway" – TheKnightsTippler

Oh, we had several ways to refer to the internet: the information superhighway, the Worldwide Web (or just "the web"), cyberspace, etc.. If we could go back and tell ourselves that in the future the kids would just call it the internet, we could save ourselves some now cringey phrases.

"Gotta check the want ads for jobs" - Didntlikedefaultname

Yep, jobs were listed in the newspaper in the "classified ads" aka "want ads," and that's how you found out who in your local area was hiring. Some localities had a separate publication just for such a purpose, while in other places it was part of the standard newspaper.
ash tray full of cigarette butts

Smoking used to be ubiquitous

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash

"Smoking or non-smoking seats?" – heatherista2

This might be one of the biggest shifts from the 90s to now in terms of being out in public. It used to be that every restaurant had a smoking and non-smoking section, frequently only separated by a wall of glass that didn't even go to the ceiling. Smoking was allowed on airplanes, too, up til it was phased out from 1988 to 2000. Yes, we used to inhale a heck of a lot of second-hand smoke and considered it just part of life. Wild times.

"Did you remember to print the directions to our destination?" – dexterstrife

Ah, MapQuest, the revolutionary direction-creating website that marked the beginning of the end of road atlases and fold-out maps, but preceded Google Maps and real-time GPS. It was a specific era some of us will always remember fondly.

"Check the Yellow Pages" – muchlovemates

I think the Yellow Pages still exist most places, but kids these days likely never see them. Every business in town was listed in the Yellow Pages under different categories. So if you wanted to find out what movies were playing at the local theater, you'd open the Yellow Pages, look under "movies" or "theaters," find the theater and get the phone number. Makes you appreciate how much easier the internet has made our lives.

vcr with vhs tapes piled on top of it

If you didn't rewind your video rental, you sucked.

Photo by cottonbro studio/Pexels

"Be kind, rewind." – Gubble_Buppie

Oh my. The days of the VCR and renting VHS tapes from Blockbuster. Not only did we have to physically take ourselves to the movie rental store to rent a movie on tape, but if you watched the movie and didn't rewind it before turning it back in, you were deemed a bad person. Period.

"You won't always have a calculator." – Wizard_of_Claus

This phrase was drilled into kids in math class and turned out to be the biggest lie of the 20th century. Who knew?