When you woke up today, what was the first thing that you did? Look around your room? Glance out of the window to check the weather? Set your goals for the day? Or did you pounce for your phone, anxious to check all of the notifications waiting for you?
As time goes on, the more the human species resembles mindless zombies. Anywhere you go, you are guaranteed to find someone staring down at their phone without noticing what’s going on around them. More time is spent on social media apps than actually using a cell phone to call someone anymore. In today’s society, phones serve people better as computers by keeping them up to date and in touch. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that we are so out of touch with everyone else and our own selves.
My parents didn’t buy me a cell phone up until I was in grade 12, so I turned into a zombie much later in life compared to the younger generations of today. When I see young kids playing games on their tablets or young teenagers live-streaming at the mall, I think of how much has changed within just a decade. So what follows now are some of my personal childhood memories before the zombie age began. I guarantee that anyone born before the year 2000 will definitely find things to relate to. Nostalgia is about to hit you in 3…2…1…
Going back to the question I asked in the beginning, the first thing I did when I woke up as a kid was quickly brush my teeth, grab a bowl of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios or Fruit Loops), and run straight to the TV room. Although I’m not too familiar with the TV shows of today, I’ll occasionally flip through the channels to see what kids and young teens are watching and I become appalled. Content that is unoriginal, unfunny, and just plain boring. Meanwhile back when we were kids, we had an endless catalogue of great TV shows to choose from including Spongebob Squarepants, Recess, Jimmy Neutron, The Fairly Odd Parents, Hey Arnold, Rugrats, Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, Power Rangers, Arthur, The Magic School Bus, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, That’s So Raven, Mr. Bean, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jackie Chan Adventures, The Simpsons, Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, Digimon, Beyblade, and Yu-Gi-Oh! These last 4 shows also made for some of the most popular toys and games that everyone wanted to experience. Who remembers trying to collect the Blue-Eyes White Dragon trading card or Beyblade battles during recess break? While I’m quickly talking about toys and games, who remembers those little Tamgotchi digital pets that died when you didn’t feed them?
I’m not leaving the girls of my generation out of this one because they had plenty of their own shows to watch as well, including Lizzie McGuire, Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana, Zoey 101, Powerpuff Girls, Winx Club, Sailor Moon, and Kim Possible. I have really young cousins and whenever they watch shows like Bubble Guppies, I have to shake my head. Whatever happened to kids shows like Blue’s Clues, Thomas the Tank Engine, Teletubbies, Sesame Street, Barney & Friends, The Big Comfy Couch, Caillou, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Franklin, Paddington Bear, Dragon Tales, Zoboomafoo, Bob the Builder, and Pingu? Who remembers when Neil Buchanan would create a gigantic masterpiece on Art Attack out of nothing? I can go on all day about these timeless shows and I still could’ve added a hundred more. Although many of these channels and networks still exist today, they just aren’t the same anymore. The Discovery Channel is still as popular as ever, but it went from showing cool nature documentaries to reality game shows like Canada’s Worst Driver. This entire list above has me reminiscing and wondering whatever happened to good television. But all good things must come to an end and I consider myself lucky to have been able to watch so many creative and entertaining shows.
The next throwback I’m going to throw at you is movies. Back in the day, movies had the cheesiest trailers ever but the movies themselves actually turned out to be instant classics. Not like today where it’s the complete opposite. You get an amazing trailer that creates hype, which either misleads your expectations or spoils too much of the movie, and the end product turns out to be a disappointment. Some of the older movies that my generation grew up with included The Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Troy, The Matrix, Shrek, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Toy Story, The Mummy, the original Spider-Man trilogy, X-Men, Titanic, Dr. Dolittle, Men In Black, Jurassic Park, The Lion King, Jumanji, Aladdin, Home Alone 1 & 2, The Road to El Dorado, The Emperor’s New Groove, Jack Frost, Elf, Jingle All The Way, Mean Girls, The Parent Trap, Scream, The Sixth Sense, The Grudge, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Wars prequels, and the Harry Potter series. Speaking of Harry Potter, I was also lucky enough to be part of the generation that got to experience the books first-hand as they were released throughout the years. I’ll never forget the paramount hype behind the 7th and final novel, the Deathly Hallows, before it was released in the summer of 2007. Reading the end of Harry’s journey left me with a feeling that has yet to be recreated with any other book. Going back to movies, it seems that originality is now at an all-time low with superhero movies dominating the box office, as well as an overabundance of prequels, sequels, and remakes. However, the movies my generation grew up with are timeless classics and will be remembered for years to come.
Before I end this topic, who remembers BLOCKBUSTER? It’s sad that today’s generation will never to get to visit this incredible place. Getting out of your house, heading over to the local Blockbuster, and renting a new movie to watch at home on a Friday or Saturday night was an unforgettable experience. They even used to sell different types of popcorn for you to take home. I’m probably sounding like a complete caveman to the younger people reading this right now. To add on, before the DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital formats became popular, I owned these ancient artifacts called VHS tapes! Nowadays when a movie gets released in theatres, it comes out on digital format to own and rent only 3 months later. However back in my day, I had to wait 7 months or more to be able to re-watch a great movie I had seen in theatres months prior. Don’t believe me? The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released in theatres on December 18, 2002, and it came out on DVD on August 23, 2003. The wait nearly killed me. When I think about all of this now, it blows my mind at how fast everything is available today. Netflix completely took over the game and dominates the market today. You can now watch endless movies and shows without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. But that’s exactly the reason why I will never forget Blockbuster. The social aspect of the entire experience made it worthwhile because lazily browsing through Netflix from your couch just isn’t the same thing. And this applies to most of the technology that we use today. Although it has made our lives extremely easy, it has also made our lives extremely lazy.
Speaking of Blockbuster, you were also able to rent video games from there as well. Before the newer generations of systems came out, I used to own a Nintendo GameCube and I would play it all day, every day. My cousins and I would pair up four controllers and play games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Party, Super Mario Strikers, Def Jam: Fight for New York, and NBA Street V3 to name a few. This was back when games like Need for Speed Underground were always talked about at school. Back when NBA Live was better than NBA 2K. Back when video games didn’t cost $90 to buy and weren’t filled with extra downloadable content, expansion packs, and microtransactions. Back then, what you paid for was what you got. The online gaming focus of today will never compare to getting together with a bunch of friends or cousins, sitting on the same couch, and competitively trying to beat one another in the same game.
While mentioning NBA above, I had to include a bit about sports in this discussion as well. Back in the days, there was no such thing as a “super team.” To win a championship, you had to do it from the ground up, such as the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Every team in every league seemed like it had a fair chance, as some of the world’s biggest sports stars today were still only rookies back then, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. And just as a quick side note, Vince Carter’s slam dunk contest performance as a Toronto Raptor in the year 2000 will forever live on in history.
Finally, when it comes to music, I grew up listening to completely different sounds and rhythms than today’s generation. Although there is still much good music out today, the late 90’s and early 2000’s were untouchable. This was back when there was no auto-tuned pop, temporary boy bands, or mumble rap. Pop stars of today can’t compare to the likes of Britney Spears, NSYNC, or the Backstreet Boys. In 2005, I bought my very first CD called The Documentary by the rapper The Game. My mom didn’t like the explicit lyrics and hilariously, my dad thought I had bought another video “game.” The hard-hitting beats and the way these rappers portrayed themselves was symbolism of a type of culture we all wanted to live in. Listening to 50 Cent and G-Unit records made us all walk, talk, and dress in a specific way. I personally used to wear baggy jeans, extra-large t-shirts, and other label-ridden clothing from brands like Ecko, Rocawear, Phat Farm, and Sean John. And how could I forget completing the outfit with a dog tag around my neck? Thinking back about all of this makes me laugh but I was young and it was fun. I guess today’s generation has artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Kodak Black to look up to!
To end off, social life in general was just bigger and better. I miss the thrills and excitement before everyone on this planet found out about smartphones, texting, and swiping left or right. Do you know how much courage and time it took when you had to physically approach a girl, ask her for her e-mail address, go home, start up your slow computer, add her in your contacts, and then finally start a conversation on MSN messenger? Back when MSN emoticons were the original emojis.
Although life used to very simple, it was much more social. With the arrival of smartphones, everything changed and the zombie age began. I hope that after reading this, I transported all of you back in time for a few moments and made you smile at how life used to be when growing up. Nostalgia is a bittersweet thing. It makes us happy when we think about all of the good memories we once had, yet it also makes us sad knowing that we are never going to relive those memories again.