Before you read any further, take a moment to consider your knowledge of No Doubt's discography, Furbies, and the lyrics to the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Have you ever used AOL, owned an N64, or put a VHS tape into a VCR? Have you ever begged your parents to let you stay up past bedtime to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on SNICK? If any of these things are unfamiliar to you, then you should probably stop reading right now. Because, let's face it – only 90s kids will get this.
It’s difficult to determine who exactly is a 90s kid, though. Let’s say, hypothetically, you were born in 1997. You kind of remember Johnny Bravo, and you know that Bill Clinton was president when you were really little. Are you a 90s kid, or are you doomed to be a 90s kid wannabe for all eternity? Who are the true 90s kids? And why is everyone so obsessed with the 90s, anyway?
To get technical and define what a “90s kid” even means, I consulted an unbiased and extraordinarily academic source: Wikipedia. “Kid” is a slang term for “child,” and Wikipedia defines a child as being a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Apparently, some English definitions of the term even count fetuses as children. Therefore, my little brother, who was born in February 2000, could be considered a 90s kid, because he spent a good seven months as a fetus during the 1999.
I decided to consult a second source – again, one that is very unbiased and very academic: Urban Dictionary. Contributor HoodedStranger defines childhood as taking place between the ages of three and twelve; additionally, for people to be considered true children of the 90s, they must have lived half of that childhood during the decade. I’m no math expert, despite my Asian heritage, but I think this means that 90s kids were born between 1982 and 1993, approximately.
Let’s be real, though: there are probably not many thirty year-olds who care about the concept of being a 90s kid. So what is it that ties teenagers in 2014 to the decade they spent shitting in diapers?
I don’t think the answer lies in the flair of denim overalls and Lisa Frank school supplies. In fact, I think the true reason for the 90s infatuation derives from none other than pure shame.
But why are we letting our preachy parents get to us? Why should we let them put us down? Hit Clips were cool and everything, but if we’re going to be honest, they paled in comparison to the glowing screen of an iPod nano. It’s not our fault we were born into what Arcade Fire refers to as “the reflektive age,” a term inspired by 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard’s “The Present Age,” published in 1846, introduces the concept of “the present age” as being one of reflection and understanding… as well as total passivity. Despite his criticism of conformity and a general lack of passion during the present age, Kierkegaard writes that one cannot condemn the generation for being as it is. The early twenty-first century is very much like the age Kierkegaard describes: it is one filled with people who kill themselves running in circles with their introspective over-thinking and overall very passive nature.
I am nineteen years old, and I was alive for five years before Y2K hit; therefore, over a quarter of my life has taken place during the 90s. But I don’t want to identify as a 90s kid. I’d be lying to myself if I said I was a bigger fan of Saved By The Bell than Lizzie McGuire, and the amount of time I spent on AIM before switching to iChat and Facebook messaging probably doesn’t even total up to a full year. I’m not going to label myself a 90s kid just because I’ve been given the message that the early 2000s were years of superficiality and the birth of an Internet infatuation. I don’t want to be a 90s kid just because the twenty-first century isn’t considered cool. Fuck being a 90s kid. I’m a millennial kid through and through.
Meg Chu is a freshman WLP major from New York. She was born on the day the Metropolitan Museum of Art closed its Origins of Impressionism exhibit, and she enjoys wearing a variation of black and dark grey. In her spare time, she likes running, reading, eating tofu, and complaining about things on the Internet.
Images: Corbis, digitalpolyphony.webs.com