20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At

Mitch
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Ready for a nostalgia trip? Way back to the rowdy, color-bursting era of the 80s and 90s, where life moved at the speed of dial-up internet, and MTV actually played music videos! But hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. From the cringe-worthy fashion trends to the quirky obsessions, here are 20 things that had Gen X going gaga.

Cashing In Empty Bottles And Cans For Penny Candy

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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After a long, sweaty afternoon of scrounging around the neighborhood for discarded cans, Gen Xers would triumphantly march to the corner store, pockets jingling with hard-earned change. A penny, a nickel, a dime – each was a ticket to a sugar-filled wonderland of gummy bears, licorice, and jawbreakers.

Today, Gen Z might wrinkle their noses at the thought of getting their hands dirty for cheap candy. But back then, it was a rite of passage, a little lesson in economics, and a testament to the simple joys of childhood.

Arcades

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Before the dawn of home consoles and smartphones, arcades were the place to be, fostering a sense of community and friendly competition. Whether pinball wizard or Pac-Man pro, each token represented a chance to etch your initials into the high-score list, the ultimate badge of gaming honor.

As you’d expect, Gen Z might scoff at the pixelated simplicity and lack of VR headsets. But let’s be honest; nothing can replicate the visceral thrill of a joystick in hand, a crowd gathering around as you inch towards that high score, the scent of popcorn, and teenage ambition hanging in the air.

Push Button Phones

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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This gadget with numbered keys was the cutting-edge technology of its time, an evolution from the rotary dial phone – a giant leap, indeed. Imagine the thrill of dialing your friend’s number without turning a dial around. The satisfying click of each button and the suspense of waiting for the call to connect were part of the experience.

Gen Z might cringe at the idea of not having contacts synced, Face ID, or voice recognition. But back then, remembering phone numbers and manually dialing them was the real deal!

Record Stores

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Remember the thrill of flipping through bins of vinyl at the local record store, Gen Xers? That tactile rite of passage – the smell of used cardboard, the dusty fingerprints on the album covers, the heart-pounding moment of discovering a rare LP – is something Gen Z will never understand.

Today’s music is primarily streamed, downloaded, or curated by algorithms. But back then, venturing into a record store was not just about buying music; it was a cultural experience, an act of rebellion, and an essential teenage pilgrimage. Sorry, Gen Z, you’re really missing out.

Nokia 3210

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
MiNe via Wikimedia Commons

This chunky device was the epitome of cool, with its interchangeable covers that let you express your unique style (or your latest obsession). Who could forget the countless hours spent playing Snake, navigating the pixelated reptile with clunky button presses?

The 3210 was a phone of firsts – the first to have no external antenna and the first to feature the icon of mobile gaming, Snake. For Gen Z, accustomed to the sleek sophistication of modern smartphones, the 3210 might seem like a relic from the dark ages. But for the intrepid Gen X-er, it symbolized freedom, connectivity, and that thrilling step into the future.

MTV Actually Played Music

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
Alberto Garcia via Wikimedia Commons

In the hallowed annals of Gen X history, MTV is remembered as a pulsating music hub, a veritable jukebox adorned with a neon “on air” sign. This might seem puzzling to the members of Gen Z, who associate MTV with reality TV shows and endless reruns. But yes, dear Gen Zers, there was a time when MTV actually played music.

And by “played music,” we mean 24/7, wall-to-wall music videos that kept everyone hooked. Remember the thrill of watching the premiere of a new video from your favorite band? Or the anticipation as the VJ cued up the top songs of the hour? Those are the MTV moments Gen X would not trade for anything, even if it makes the younger generation scratch their heads in bewilderment.

Step Aside Google Maps, Hello Paper Maps!

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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We had the classic, hefty Atlas our parents shoved into our hands before every family road trip. It was our Google Maps, live traffic updates, and local guide, all rolled into a one-size-fits-all manual navigation system. We flipped through the pages, traced the squiggly lines, and tried deciphering the complex topography.

We were the explorers charting the course of our adventures. Now, with GPS on every device, the art of map reading is on the brink of extinction. Gen Z, spoiled with real-time updates and satellite images, might just shudder at the thought of using an Atlas!

The ‘Nintendo Blow’

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
MKFI via Wikimedia Commons

Before the era of downloadable content and cloud storage, video games came in physical form, and oh boy, they were temperamental. You’d spend what felt like eons waiting for your favorite game to load, only to be granted a blank screen. The culprit? A tiny speck of dust lodged in the cartridge.

So, you’d take it out, give it a good blow, and voila! It’s game on again. With their smudge-free touchscreens and instant updates, Gen Z may find this hard to wrap their heads around, but hey, blowing into cartridges was our version of a tech hack.

No Social Media

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Ah, the days when ‘liking’ something meant genuinely enjoying it instead of a mere tap on a screen. Gen Xers could enjoy their youthful escapades without the constant need to document every minute detail on Instagram or Snapchat. No incessant pinging of Facebook notifications or an avalanche of Twitter updates.

Instead, communication occurred in person, over the phone, or via snail mail. While Gen Z might balk at the idea of a life without DMs and TikTok dance challenges, Gen X reveled in their ability to disconnect, live in the moment, and enjoy the world sans the blue-lit screen.

Renting Movies And Video Games At Blockbuster

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
UpdateNerd via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, the sweet nostalgia of strolling through the aisles of Blockbuster on a Friday night, perusing shelves stacked with VHS tapes or the latest video games. Gen X folks were explorers in this land of entertainment, searching for the perfect movie or game for the weekend.

The smell of popcorn and the thrill of finally spotting that “New Release” you’ve been waiting for was a feeling of victory. But kids these days, with their Netflix and online gaming, will never know the suspense of not knowing if the last copy of your desired movie or game was already rented out. It was a simpler time, often ending in compromise, a random selection, or the occasional meltdown if your little brother insisted on renting “The Lion King” for the 100th time.

Being Disconnected

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Gen X was no stranger to the sweet solitude of the pre-internet era, a concept that might send Gen Z into a fit of existential dread. Imagine a time when smartphones were the stuff of science fiction and social media was merely a twinkle in the digital cosmos. Our play dates were arranged with landline phones and handwritten notes, not DMs or Facebook events.

We actually had to gasp talk to each other! And let’s not forget the art of waiting. Missed your favorite music video on MTV? Well, tough luck, kiddo. You had to wait for it to play again. Unthinkable, right? But that’s how we rolled in the disconnected era. Blissful, patient, and oh-so gloriously analog.

No GPS for Parents to Track Us Down to the Exact Coordinates

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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For the Gen X kids, the world was our playground, and our parents had a vague idea at best about our whereabouts. We would hop on our bikes and disappear for hours, exploring the neighborhood, local parks, and any other place that caught our fancy.

“Be back by dinner!” was the only guideline, and off we went, armed with nothing but our sense of adventure. No real-time updates, no location sharing – pure, liberating, untracked bliss. Today’s Gen Z might cringe at the very thought but believe it or not, we survived and, dare I say, thrived on this freedom!

Recording a Song on the Radio Onto a Cassette Tape

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Gen X-ers can vividly recall the adrenaline, waiting for their favorite song to play, fingers poised over the ‘record’ and ‘play’ buttons. Basically, the pirate of the airwaves, you had to master the delicate art of timing to avoid commercials and DJ chatter.

And lo and behold, the horror that unfolded when your tape got entangled in the cassette player. Gen Z might cringe at the thought of this analog bootlegging, but this was our Spotify, and oh boy, did it come with its own set of unique challenges and rewards!

Saturday Morning Cartoons

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Ah, Saturday Morning Cartoons – the glorious prelude to a carefree weekend for any self-respecting Gen X kid. Before the days of on-demand streaming and infinite choice, we sat cross-legged in front of the family’s sole television, a cereal bowl in hand, hypnotized by the technicolor antics of Scooby-Doo, the Smurfs, and Looney Tunes.

There was something truly magical about the ritual – the anticipation of a whole week culminating in a few hours of dedicated cartoon content. As for Gen Z, they might cringe at the idea of waiting an entire week for their favorite show – a testament to the luxury of instant gratification they’ve grown accustomed to.

Handcrafting Letters

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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In the age of Gen X, before the invasion of emojis and GIFs, communication was a tactile endeavor that involved ink, paper and a profound amount of patience. Stacks of parchment, smudged fingers, and the melancholy hum of the mailbox flag dropping were all part of the charm.

The thrill of decoding cursive handwriting felt like you were unraveling a secret code from a long-lost civilization. Those little pieces of handwritten sentiment, sealed with a lick and a stamp, carried emotions across cities, states, and countries. It’s a nostalgia trip that Gen Z might scoff at, considering they can fire off a text message faster than you can say ‘postage stamp.’

AOL Chat Rooms

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons

Ahh, the AOL Chat Rooms, the Wild West of the Internet in the 90s. For many of Generation X, this was the epitome of social networking before Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram were even a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye.

These chat rooms were a strange and enthralling digital landscape where you could adopt a cool alias, chat about anything from your favorite band to conspiracy theories, or even role-play as a vampire (yes, you heard it right). Dial-up tones were our battle cries, and “ASL?” was our secret handshake. Gen Z might cringe at the thought of such unfiltered and monitored public forums, but to us, it was the golden age of online camaraderie.

Pager Codes

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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This cryptic numerical dialect was a combination of numbers that formed a word or phrase when viewed upside down. For instance, the number ‘07734’ turned upside down, spelled ‘HELLO.’

It may seem archaic now, but back in the day, it was as trendy as TikTok dances are today. Gen Z might cringe at the thought of this rudimentary texting method, but Gen Xers can only laugh and feel a pang of nostalgia for the days when ‘143’ was all you needed to say, “I love you.”

Hair Metal

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
Kevin Nixon via Wikimedia Commons

Hair metal, or glam metal if you prefer the posh term, embodied the 80s over-the-top ethos. It was all about big hair, tight leather pants, and an unyielding dedication to “more is more.” This musical genre brought us bands like Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, and Bon Jovi, with their power ballads, guitar solos, and excessive hair spray use.

There was no such thing as subtlety in the hair metal world, with every song being an anthem, every performance a spectacle. Today’s Gen Z might cringe at the thought, but for Gen X, hair metal was the ultimate expression of youthful rebellion and unabashed fun.

Calling Time and Temperature(T&T)

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Who needs weather apps when you can dial a number on your landline phone to get the current time and temperature? Gen X might remember eagerly waiting for that robotic voice to inform them about the weather, maybe hoping for a snow day off school.

The service was usually offered by local banks or radio stations and was a delight. Today, Gen Z would likely roll their eyes at the effort involved, preferring a quick glance at their smartphone screens. Ah, the rough life of digital natives!

Cheap Concert Tickets

20 Things Gen X Was Crazy About During Their Childhood That Gen Z Would Probably Cringe At
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Remember the good old days when you could see your favorite band without selling a kidney? Back in the day, Gen X was all about that live concert experience, and the best part was – it didn’t break the bank. Yes, we’re talking about cheap concert tickets!

You could practically fund a weekend of rockin’ out with the change from your couch cushions. Gen Z might cringe at not scoring VIP passes with backstage privileges, but Gen X just needed the music and a few friends. And maybe a pair of acid-washed jeans to complete the ensemble.

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Generation X. The crowd that’s always been too cool for school and too vintage for the mainstream. Sandwiched between the ever-vocal Boomers and the ultra-digitized Millennials, they often feel like the overlooked middle child of generations. But why does this group, born between Woodstock and the Walkman, often fly under the radar?

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Air fryers offer a healthier alternative to deep frying and can be used to cook various foods. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could get an air fryer and a microwave in one appliance? That’s where microwave air fryer combos come in. These nifty little devices combine an air fryer’s cooking power with a microwave’s speed and convenience, making them a popular choice and essential item for busy families & households.

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10 Things Gen Z Is Missing Out on According to Gen X and Millennials

10 Things Gen Z Is Missing Out on According to Gen X and Millennials
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There’s nothing like the good old days. In fact, kids now have no idea what they missed out on! Today, things like technology and an ever-changing culture present Generation Z with a much different upbringing than most people had.

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15 Crazy Reasons Why Gen Zs Think They’re Superior to Millennials
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10 Cringe-Worthy Trends Gen Zs Are Trying to Make Happen
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It’s no secret that Gen Z is often at the forefront of fashion trends, but some of their ideas can be pretty cringe-worthy. From baggy, oversized clothing to outrageous accessories, it’s clear that this generation is pushing boundaries regarding fashion. But which trends are they trying to make happen? We take a look at 10 of the most cringe-worthy gen z fashion ideas making waves right now.

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  • Mitch

    A computer science enthusiast with a keen interest in technology and games, Mitchelle (Mitch) contributes a cutting-edge perspective to the Frenz Hub writing team, integrating her academic knowledge with her personal passions

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