As a product of the late 1980s, this generation grew up in a time of prosperity for the United States of America. For most of our young lives the country actually had a surplus budget, the education system had not yet been marred by “No Child Left Behind,” gas prices were low, and the cartoons we were fed on television were actually well animated and somewhat educational.
Some of the staples for child entertainment for our generation included “Winnie the Pooh,” “Sesame Street,” “Mr. Rogers,” the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and other wonderful cartoons such as “Doug,” “Rugrats,” and “The Angry Beavers.” Sure, some of these shows still exist today, but as a general rule, if you ask anyone from this generation, children’s shows have gone steadily down hill. Because seriously, who actually learned anything from Teletubies or shows like Nickelodeon’s latest “The Mighty B?”
This generation was also molded by the up rise of pop icons such as ‘N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, Brittany Spears, Hanson, etc. This group of “boy bands” and ditzy divas molded the young minds and lives of millions of young girls in our generation, but behind the scenes other trends were on the rise in the music scene. In our younger years 80s icons such as Metallica were still going strong; in fact it wasn’t until 1991 that Metallica released their biggest album of their career, the self titled “black album” whose key anthem “Enter Sandman” dominated radio and music TV for years to come. Other music and style trends of this generation included the punk rock and “Goth” movements as well as the rise in the Hip Hop style of music, dance, and fashion that is still going strong today. The pop culture of this generation also brought with it a new phase of television called the “reality show.” From MTV’s “The Real World” to “Survivor” and even the revival of “American Idol,” reality TV took over most networks during the late 90s and early 2000s.
Pop culture wasn’t the only thing that shaped this generation though. We grew up in a time when science and technology were making leaps and bounds almost annually. When our lives began computers were a rarity in homes and cell phones came in the form of a large bag you sat in your seat and plugged into your cigarette lighter. Music and video was predominantly published on cassette tapes, and everyday people would certainly not have considered cloning a fathomable possibility. Yet, during the prime of our generation’s adolescence, technology and science took American culture in a new direction. The entire human genome was mapped, advancing our knowledge of our own bodies tenfold over what it was before, and Dolly the sheep shook the world when she was cloned in 1996. The new reality of cloning took people by storm and sparked more political and moral debates than probably any other single event ever has. We were also the first truly computerized generation. With the arrival and growth of the internet in the early 90s, our generation quickly became more globally connected, and soon we even found ourselves able to access the internet at our fingertips anywhere we went with the huge advances in cell phone technology. We were a generation of growth and advancement in so many areas compared to our parents, and all of those changes set us up to be leaders in a more diverse and globalized society.