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gen x nostalgia

A rainbow over the AT&T store.

Thirty years ago, AT&T launched its “You Will” ad campaign, which predicted future technological developments that seemed pretty far-fetched at the time. But, in hindsight, the ad was surprisingly accurate in anticipating technology that’s commonplace today.

"Have you ever borrowed a book from thousands of miles away?" the first ad asks. "Crossed the country without stopping for directions? Or sent someone a fax from the beach? You will. And the company that will bring it to you is AT&T."

OK, the fax prediction was a bit off because that technology fell by the wayside after email was developed. But the sentiment was correct.

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Pop Culture

The 'Sunscreen Song' is 25. Here’s why the advice from the Gen X anthem is still important.

Remember the moving graduation speech that became an unlikely hit?

The video for "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)."

On June 1, 1997, the Chicago Tribune published columnist Mary Schmich's fantasy commencement speech entitled, "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." In the piece, she lamented that "Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out," but most of us, "will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns."

Next came her attempt to share the knowledge she's learned with the graduating "Class of '97." In the column she shares one piece of advice she is sure about—“wear sunscreen”—and a litany of wisdom that she admits “has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.”

Among Schmich’s observations is that we should remain close to our siblings, appreciate our youth and never be reckless with other people’s hearts.

The title of her piece suggests it would never be embraced by her target audience. But in a strange twist of fate, it would become a pop culture phenomenon that in the late ’90s was an inescapable part of youth culture.

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Blockbuster video sign and pagers.

In “Back to the Future,” teenager Marty McFly goes back in time 30 years, from 1985 to 1955. But what if the film were made today and he went back from 2021 to 1991? I think the culture shock of a modern teenager going from a post-to-pre internet world would be much greater than the one that Marty experienced in the original film.

Would a kid from today be able to dial a payphone? Read a clock with actual hands? Look up directions on a Thomas Guide map?

A lot has changed since the dawn of the new millennium so a group of Redditors marked the changes in a post entitled: “What is something that was used heavily in the year 2000, but it's almost never used today?”

Here are 17 of the best posts.

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The Gap brought swing to the mainstream with its "Khakis Swing" commercial.

Every Gen Xer remembers a small moment in time when swing music was extremely popular in the late '90s. Swing went from nonexistent to an alt-rock radio mainstay from 1996 to 1998 and then, it was gone in a flash.

During that time, young people rushed to their nearest dance studios to learn the Lindy Hop and bought up old-school, retro suits and fedoras. Swing clubs started popping up all over the country and MTV played swing-inspired videos such as "Hell" by Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Jump Jive an' Wail" by Brian Setzer Orchestra and "You and Me (and the Bottle Makes Three)" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Film editor Simone Smith asked Gen X to explain what the hell was going on in the late '90s that led to swing music making a huge comeback.

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