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The 90s/00s Transition

...And How Technology Technically Ruined the World

Last time I checked we were supposed to be floating about in hovercrafts by 2019. I even pictured our species living on some faraway planet where robots were our slaves and the only food we could eat would be vacuum packed rice cakes.

TV and those old fashioned films really did make an impact on our minds, didn't they? They honestly made us believe that by 2020, we'd all be living in some futuristic metropolis in the clouds empowered by drones and androids.

Guess that didn't exactly go according to plan now, did it? And yet we are worryingly closer to that reality than we'd like to think.

It only felt like yesterday I was six years old and about to experience the transition into the noughties. Where that time went since is beyond me, and in fact, it often scares me just how quickly time really moves.
It's the advancement of technology and the world spinning faster on its axis than usual that has bogged us all down and made us lose track of time.

Things are forever changing and soon enough that little TV vision from the 80s might just become our tomorrow world.

Slightly worrying, isn't it?

But let's not talk about tomorrow. Let's talk about yesterday. You know, that beautiful era between the late 90s and early 00s. Before technology ruled the world and things were a lot simpler and easier to adjust to.

I give you, The 90s—00s transition, and how technology technically ruined the world.

Before 3D Dominated

There was nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning and having a whole schedule of what shows you were going to watch that day.
There was no school for two days. You had endless cereal and a secret stash of snacks. You were feeling invincible.

Shows varied from 2D cartoons to live action characters, mainly The Teletubbies or Sesame Street. You know, the shows that had the most realistic characters ever; ones that moved like real human beings. 
You were amazed at how lifelike those bananas in pajamas looked. You couldn't believe your eyes when that bear sang a lullaby to the smiling moon overhanging the big blue house. Everything was beautiful and so real, and that's exactly what we believed in. Right up until 3D stormed the stage and shoved aside those poor guys, that is.

Nowadays, you'll find the old shows that we used to watch revamped and brought in to the digital era. No bulky costumes or simple theme songs, but more Hollywood dazzles and OTT musical numbers. 

That's great and all, but there was something about the 90s shows that had a more enticing power. Things felt more engaging and really pulled you in, making you beg for more as you topped your cereal off to the brim for the fifth time.

These days shows seem more forgettable, and for that reason, I'm giving the point to the 90s. Because sometimes simplicity is key to gaining a good audience. You don't need a 3D explosion to enlighten the faces of an eight-year-old.

The Cheesy Hits!

These days you'll find most songs repeated on the radio all feature the same scripted story. It's all 'love you, baby, hate you, baby' rubbish, and quite frankly I can't stand it.

For every love song, there's a breakup song, and nine times out of ten, the artist that plays them are just being paid to do so, because that's what people want, apparently. 

There is rarely any compassion in today's music, and most hits these days involve the talent to push a spacebar and oneliners mumbled into a cheap microphone on a school desk.

That's what kids want these days, and I'll never for the life of me understand why.

But let's take it back a bit! Back to the era of pure cheese and one-hit wonders that owned the radio stations and compilation albums.
Back in the 90s, the boy and girl bands dominated the world. Usually a four piece, all rocking the same outfits but in different colours. They came off like Power Rangers that could sing. It was strange, but my, was it amazing.

Spice Girls, Busted, Aqua, Cartoons, Westlife, Five, Steps, Hanson, Backstreet Boys—all names that the world knew. Armed with unique talents and genuine voices that was worthy of a record deal. Whereas today if you're a size zero Instagram model, you're probably on your way to becoming a famous musician, too. How the hell did that happen?

I remember the disco days in school where I could fly like an airplane to songs about Pizza Hut and not feel an inch of shame. But these days there's just no emotion. No passion. That's something we miss more than we'd like to let on.

The Portable Era

When I was in school we never had Spotify or on-demand soundtracks spawned from the cloud. It was harder to come by music, and if you weren't recording songs from the radio to put onto a tape, then you were trading albums with your friends in the playground.

Every kid I knew had a portable CD player which they'd shove in their pockets and jam to during the lunch hours. They were bulky and damn right ugly, but they were the coolest things ever made. 

Then things took a turn and before long we were able to trade songs over Bluetooth (remember that crazy little thing?) on our cheap, tacky mobile phones.

Most of us could only store about five or six songs on our internal phone storage because that's all that was available back then. So we were forever discarding and obtaining new songs depending on what was in at the time.

Transferring a song over Bluetooth took about ten minutes, so for a large portion of your break, you'd have to stand right next to your friend with phones nudged together just so you could get a strong enough signal.
But that rivetting feeling of having the latest track on your phone that you could blast out through a polyphonic two-bit tone at any time, that was what it was all about.

Sadly, these days kids won't have a clue about portable CD players or the struggles of Bluetooth transfers, because Spotify and iTunes have taken over the market and make music sharing easier than ever before.
Billions of tracks and albums, all available at your fingertips through the power of technology.

It's easier now sure, but part of me still misses the days where grasping new music felt rewarding rather than forgettable.

Before Blu-Ray and 4D

Damn these things were ugly. VHS, I mean.

Show a kid nowadays and they'd tell you these were from the pre-historic era where dinosaurs roamed the earth. Yet funnily enough, they aren't as old as kids make them out to be. We just leaped into futuristic technology faster than we ever dreamed of.

During the 90s, the VHS was at the height of its popularity, and most of us had a tiny box TV in our homes that always had a bundle of tapes resting beside it.

Before Blu-Ray and Ultra-Violet film we had these, and back then you had to work for your entertainment. There was no quick access menus or fast play, you had to actually rewind the tape when you finished it.

Rewinding the tape meant you had to sit with your eyes closed so you wouldn't see the film playing backwards in case you hadn't seen it yet. It also meant you had to spend about five minutes biting your lip and jumping about the room in preparation of the night's flick.

There was no Netflix and Amazon Prime, nor was there any on-demand streaming services that you could access online in seconds.

If you wanted the latest movie you had to work for it, and sometimes that meant traveling to a local Blockbuster store. A place that offered all the latest Hollywood hits that you could rent for a day or two before having to bring them back again. (You can see why Blockbuster wouldn't survive in today's generation...)

But that's a thing I personally miss, as I know many others do, too. The satisfaction of holding a physical tape in your hand and a bowl of popcorn in the other.

Personally, I'd give anything to be in a Blockbuster again on a Friday night; shoveling through the bargain bin baskets for second-hand tapes that I could add to my collection. Yet these days we can get pretty much anything we want just from a quick Google search. And that's what brings a slight tear to my eye. Technology has thrown us into a generation of lazy people that needn't worry about effort when it comes to media, because like all formats of playback, everything is handed to us on a silver platter.

I'd happily go back to the old days where it actually felt rewarding to pick up a movie.

When Games Were Physical, Not Digital

I remember when I was able to play a game that wasn't on an iPad. Do you?

British Bulldogs, Tag, Kick The Bin, Hide and Seek, Murder In The Dark; heck, even playing with spud guns in an alleyway near home.

During the 90s, primary school kids were at the feat of their imagination when it came to playground activities and inventing new ways to pass the time.

When the lunch bell sprung off the hook the challenge to cram as many games in as possible was in motion. Flying about the grounds and playing whatever games you could you would always be active and never stop for anything other than the teacher calling you back to the classroom.

The best days of my life were spent taking part in these activities. Just hiding up a tree with the goal of reaching a bin without being tagged by a mate was the most adrenaline-fuelled thing in existence. 

The energy, the passion, the creativity; it was all so beautiful and memorable back then. Every kid wanted to play and branch out to new ideas. Those were how we'd make friends and form social cliques.

Again, these days we don't have that. Or at least only slightly in comparison to ten years ago. And why? Because Androids, tablets, and consoles stormed on by and won the battle for grabbing kids' attention spans.

A ten-year-old these days would prefer a game of Fortnite on their PS4 to actually venturing outdoors to play with a friend. A controller took over from a couple of conkers and a piece of string.

Friends don't knock for one another anymore, because now you can simply drop them a text before firing up the console from home. Again, effort isn't required.

I remember being out with a friend countless times and walking a two mile stretch between friends houses just in hope they'd be in and willing to come out for a while.

We'd spend our £1 pocket monies on some fizzy drinks and play at the local park for as long as we could. And once dark rolled around, everybody scarpered back home before they got in trouble.

Sure, kids still hang about in parks today, but the last time I walked by one with my daughter, I couldn't help but notice nobody interacted with one another. No swings swung nor did any laughter bubble. Instead, the glow from four or five Android phone screens lit up tiny faces from the hands glued to them as if they were the only things worth holding on to.

Scrolling and mumbling, sharing and posting, but no actual physical interaction. That's what today's generation will never experience, because like I've said before, technology has cemented its place on the top of the ladder, and I don't think it plans on moving any time soon either. Not so long as there's always a one-inch wider display or a higher megapixel camera on the market.

Kids today will always cherish possessions over building memories.

Before the Megapixel Mattered

Before the likes of the iPhone XS and Google Pixel smartphones and their fancy sparkling cameras, there were tacky compact Kodak cameras and other poxy single-megapixel items. There was no stunning hi-def selfies or wide-angled city panorama landscapes, but more grainy pictures that had no motive whatsoever. An eye, a ceiling fan, or maybe even a piece of wallpaper peeling from the feature wall. There was no context when snapping away with a compact camera, and that's why we loved them at the old school parties.

Armed with only 27 shots, these disposable cameras were brilliant on any occasion, and if you were going anywhere, you had to bring the Kodak.
Developing the pictures, on the other hand, now that was another story.
You'd venture into town to the nearest camera store with high hopes of seeing your finest photography handiwork, only to discover half of your 27 pictures were too dark or too light due to the light exposure. Bugger.

Some of my favourite pictures even today are still the ones taken from an older camera because quite frankly they are more unique and hold a much greater purpose than cheap expendable snapshots taken on an iPhone.

We can have two-thousand selfies stored on our 64GB smartphone, but back then you had 27 prints and that was it. So they felt a lot more special to hold on to. And if you lost those photos, then that was it, there were no more copies to fish out.

To this day I still have a lasting photo of me and my Grandad from when I was about five or six, and I hold onto it because it's the only picture I have of us together.

There are no backups in an iCloud or HD versions stored away on a USB flash drive. Just one single 4x6 print stashed away in a photo album. That for me is more special than any amount of hi-def photos from around the world.

It seems we take small things like photos for granted these days, and if you aren't overly keen on an image, you can simply discard it and try again. But back then every shot made an impact, and whilst most shots taken turned out horribly, they were still more meaningful than any amount of two-second-selfies we see today.

Before Social Media Took Control

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. YouTube. Snapchat.

Did you know almost half the human population use social media every day? In 2017, it was noted that over 2.77 billion people had made some sort of social networking account. Now that's crazy. 

I admit, I'm in the exact same boat. And to say I never used Facebook for a quick update or Instagram for a spontaneous upload would be a total lie. Because like you and most people in the world, I find myself craving the drug that is social media.

A quick check of your notifications or a peek at who might have seen your latest story on Instagram - it all adds up. All to the point where half of our days are spent swiping or tapping a phone screen. And for what exactly? Surely there should be more important things we should be doing? Surely we should be doing something more productive, right? And yet, we don't.

This one hits too close to home and above all, I'd say this is the most cause for concern in modern society. Because sadly we've lost touch with human interaction and if something needs to be said it's usually through a text or chat bubble.

We rarely speak anymore and most kids find it easier to speak their minds through social media than face to face. Now that's not right. 

Back in the day we spoke our feelings to our friends and enjoyed the experience of talking to one another. We would ask out our crushes rather than downloading an app in order to chat them up. 

There was no Tinder or PlentyofFish, only a simple love story between a boy and a girl, and that was it. If you wanted someone you had to build up the courage and fight for them in person. But these days anything goes providing you fork out enough money or have the right Google-scripted chat up lines. 

Funny how social media aims to connect the world and bring us all closer together, yet we're further away from socialising than ever before. We're all becoming drones that rely on our avatars and profile views and not our actual personalities in real-life.

We can be anyone we want to be with the power of social media, when really all we need to be is who we actually are every day. And for that reason, I miss the 90s now more than ever.

To Conclude

We as a species have grown tired and lazy. As the future we once dreamed of becomes a worrying reality it's only inevitable that we will grow even more careless. 

The thing we don't want to do won't have to be done anymore, because you never know what tomorrow may bring. An app, an invention, a bot to tie your laces; it's all in the works and closer than ever. 

Ten years from now, we may see floating cars or phones that project from your wrist. We may no longer need headphones or keyboards, because a cloud engraved deep within the sky may provide us with everything we could ever need some day. Perhaps one day we can talk into an abyss and somehow it would translate to Japanese and appear in Australia for someone to hear. 

Maybe one day, computers will become expendable and everything can be done just by saying it out loud. Who knows?

I for one am terrified of the future and how kids will see us and our 'older generation' and the things we had to do once upon a time.

I dread the day I try to explain rewinding tapes and sharing songs to my daughter and she just stares blankly back at me as if I'm crazy.

Somewhere in the space of twenty years, the world has lunged forward and opened up to so much possibility, and I don't think it's going to stop either.

We will continue expanding and so long as an upcoming designer reaches for ambition, a new invention will always blossom and take us one step closer to our futuristic planet.

Time is remorseful and wicked, and it cares little for our old keepsakes and nostalgia, and sadly we are left to either accept and adapt, or clutch onto the past and lose touch with society.

I guess the world is a scary place, but so long as we keep these memories close to the heart we will always have something to smile about when the world has fallen to pieces or bowed down to technology warlords.

Time marches forward, but the kids we once were will always remain so long as our generation is spoken about to those who are willing to listen. 

—J Tury

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