We’re currently living in an age of nostalgia for the 1990s. You could credit* a number of factors for this ‘90s explosion. One is simply that the ‘90s were awesome, but it’s fair to say that some of this nostalgia comes from the ways that 2016 has disappointed ‘90s kids. We submerge ourselves in longing for the past — wearing flannel dresses, trying to bring back ‘90s slang, and attempting to live out our Reality Bites fantasies — because, the present? It kinda sucks sometimes.
I imagine that if, in 1998, I was suddenly time zapped (yes, that’s a technical term) into 2016, I would have pretty mixed feelings about where we are now. I would be really psyched about certain things (“The internet is one million times faster than it used to be! My phone is a computer! And computers are magic now!”), and really confused about others (“Wait, Donald Trump is running for president??”). But amidst all that happiness and confusion, I think I’d be straight-up disappointed about certain aspects of life in 2016. There are certain things that media from the ‘80s and ‘90s taught me were perfectly reasonable to expect from the future, and the future is now. Where’s my transporter? And my food replicator? Wait, I might just be thinking of Star Trek: The Next Generation….
At any rate, keep reading for 12 things in 2016 that would have let down your 1990’s self:
1. Hoverboards haven’t replaced all other forms of transportation.
Back to the Future II came out in 1989, permanently implanting fantasies of hoverboards into the brains of ‘90s kids forevermore. Those kids would be appalled to discover that in the 21st century, skateboards still have wheels.
2. The Beanie Baby bubble burst. (Say that 12 times fast).
We all thought we’d be buying our summer homes in the Hamptons from all the cash we’d be raking in when we finally sold our collection of understuffed plush toys. Who could have predicted that in 2016, those toys would sell on eBay for a few bucks apiece?
3. People don’t pick their outfits via computer every morning.
In 1995, Cher’s outfit-choosing computer program was the most covetable piece of fantasy technology I’d ever scene (possibly with the exception of Cher’s closet itself). It is now more then twenty years later, and I STILL don’t have technology that can pick clothes for me. How is it that my phone can identify random music and make my selfies look like they’re from 1967, but it can’t tell me if my outfit clashes?
4. No flying cars.
The Fifth Element really convinced me that in the future we’d have flying cars. I know that the movie technically takes place 200 years from now, so we’ve still got time to make that happen, but I’d been hoping that things would move a little faster on that one. One thing I’m not disappointed about is the fact that orange silicone crotch-suspenders have yet to take off.
5. The Spice Girls went on indefinite hiatus in 2000.
I mean, I think we all started to see the way the wind was blowing when Geri Halliwell left the group in 1998, but, given the Spice Girls’ astronomical success in the mid-90s, few would have guessed that they’d barely make it out of the decade alive. Sixteen years later, and they’ve reunited for a reunion tour and a stint at the 2012 Olympics, but a full return seems very unlikely.
6. We do not have cold fusion.
Cold fusion is a revolutionary, theoretical form of nuclear energy that would solve a lot of the world’s problems, and The Saint (one of my favorite bad movies from the ‘90s) led me to believe that it was just around the corner. After all, the scientist played by Elisabeth Shue spends most of the movie walking around with the equations for this earthshaking scientific discovery written on scraps of paper STUFFED IN HER BRA. At the movie’s climax, Val Kilmer says he needs to formula to work, and she’s just like, “No big, give me 15 minutes to put the Post-Its in my bra in the correct order.” Et voila. Cold fusion!
I mean, if it’s that simple, why don’t we have it yet?
7. The Internet has not gotten less scary.
Back in the ‘90s, the Internet was frightening because it was so unknown, and many of us were also a little naïve about how people would act under the cover of anonymity. These days, the Internet is deeply embedded into nearly every corner of our lives — and it’s still scary. Possibly even more so, because we depend on it so much.
8. The Internet is also now full of videos of teens trying out ‘90s stuff, the sole purpose of which seems to be to make people who actually lived in the ‘90s feel like withered corpses.
Seriously, the moral of each of these videos boils down to “You thought this was cool back in the day, but now you are OLD. HA.”
9. The age of free (aka illegal) music is no more.
Obviously, copyright infringement is a bad thing, and we should not do it. But there was a brief, golden moment in the 90s when Napster had been invented and the music industry hadn’t really caught up with it yet, and we all thought that music would be basically free from then on out. We should have all thought, “Hey, isn’t this stealing?” but I think that the Internet and the concept of file sharing was so new that we didn’t really have a protocol for dealing with it. We’ve got very efficient (and legal) systems for buying and streaming music now, but I think our 1999 selves would be a little bummed that we can’t just download free music whenever we feel like it.
10. TRL is dead.
What is life without getting to see the most requested video of the day? (‘90s kids would also be generally appalled at the lack of music videos on MTV).
11. Mixed tapes and CDs have been replaced.
It’s a lot easier to make a playlist on iTunes than to make a mix CD, which required having a computer with the ability to burn CDs, and then a slow process of inserting disc after disc to record the particular songs that you wanted and burn them onto the disc. Often the CD would run out of room, or it wouldn’t burn correctly, and you’d have to start over. It was a pain in the arse, but all that work meant that when someone gave you a mix CD, it was special. And making one for someone else? There was no truer sign of love.
12. There is no Face/Off machine.
Contrary to Rick Ford’s mistaken belief in Spy, there is no Face/Off machine. That we know about, anyway.
*Or blame, depending on how sick you are of Lisa Frank callbacks.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (11)