Warning: the post below is likely to make you feel ancient. Like, fossil ancient. Read on at your own risk of burying hopes to stay a kid forever. Let this be a farewell to our inner Kevin McCallisters, since the last time we were home alone was two kids, a mortgage, and an infinite amount of Zoom meetings ago.
And my fellow millennials, things like burning CDs and MTV’s Pimp My Ride were things we proudly grew up with. But these days, Gen Zs clearly don’t know what floppy disks are for, or what hanging up the phone actually refers to… damn, everyone, are we really closer to boomers than we’d ever like to be?
To find out about the complex millennial mentality, Bored Panda reached out to Lisa Yaszek, a Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies at Georgia Tech where she researches and teaches science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures.
Lisa told us that millennials may be indeed complex people, but their nostalgia is pretty straightforward, as illustrated by the images in this post. “Broadly speaking, they tend to react emotionally to objects associated with either technology or entertainment. This is no surprise; after all, technology and entertainment are two major aspects of popular culture,” professor explained.
She also added that “other aspects of popular culture include sports, news, fashion, and slang—and I bet you’ll find millennials making nostalgic posts about things like 'Y2k' and 'Jnco jeans.'” When analyzing the millennial nostalgia in this compilation, Lisa said that she was interested to see how very many of the images here revolve around music technologies (images #1, 2, 8, 9, 12, 15, 17, 20, 22, and 24)!
“This makes sense for a couple reasons. First, ever since pop music became, well, popular in the 1950s, it has been associated with youth culture. (Interestingly, 'youth culture' as a concept also emerged in the 1950s, with the first generation of kids who had disposable spending money in the form of allowances.) By definition, youth culture sees itself as rebellious and different from the establishment culture of adults.”
“Second,” the professor explained, “millennials really did grow up in a moment when music and the way generations relate to it were both changing radically. On the one hand, boomers and Gen X parents stayed interested in popular music and so it was harder for millennials to define themselves against their parents’ tastes, and on the other hand, the rapid rise of new music technologies (cassette and then mp3 players) and experimental online entertainment services (Napster and MySpace) allowed millennials to draw a new line between themselves and previous generations.”
For this reason, Lisa said that “it’s no surprise to see that 1990s and 2000s music technologies are a source of nostalgia for millennials—and a source of tension when they try to share their experiences and memories of those technologies with Gen Z and Gen Alpha!”
Another thing that the professor has noted is that television (posts #1, 6, 10, 21, and 25) and telephone (images #5, 13, 18, and 27) technologies provoke a significant amount of millennial nostalgia.
“Again, these are the technologies that give us a line (literally, in the case of image #18) to the world beyond our home, connecting us to others like us across time and space. Millennials have never known a world without cable television, but as posts #1 and 25 remind us, they grew up in a time when audiences were still largely at the mercy of networks that determined the flow of what was watched, when—as opposed to children growing up now who are used to selecting entertainment from a wide variety of platforms (many of which allow you to skip around in or speed through the programs being watched.)”
Lisa continued that “in a similar vein, while most millennials won’t remember a time without cell phones, as images #5, 13, and 18 remind us, they do remember plug-in rotary phones (for which the hashtag symbol held a very different meaning) as well as the transition from relatively large, plastic-encased phones that only made voice calls to the pocket-sized, glass slabs we have today that serve as communication, information, and entertainment devices (see image #27).”
Some of the funnier posts, according to the professor, were the ones with millennials introducing objects to younger generations. “That is so outside the younger person’s realm of experience that they have to guess what the object is—and then they get it totally wrong because they are trying to put it in the context of their own lives!”
“My favorite post in this respect is post #23, with the four-year-old who thought that an old-school, rotary pencil sharpener was a soap dispenser. Given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the bottle of hand sanitizer also in the picture, I thought that was actually a great guess,” Lisa added.
She also liked image #3 “in which the young person assumes a 1980s floppy disk is actually a 3D printed artwork made to homage the 'save' icon on a 2020s computer. That had me rotfl, as the millennials have taught us all to say,” the professor explained humorously.
“As a professor, I have to give a shout-out to the educational technologies in images #11, 16, and 23. I’m glad to see that millennials' psyches aren’t just defined by leisure time activities at home, but also by their experiences in the classroom.”
Meanwhile, Lisa said that she was actually surprised that anyone is nostalgic for overhead projectors. “I’m from Gen X and they felt outdated to me when I first encountered them in the early 1990s,” the professor concluded.
Bored Panda also talked to Kristin Moss, the chief ambassador at DealAid.org, who shared some insights on key differences between millennials and Gen Z. “While both value their time greatly, millennials are more likely to invest more time into researching a product or service and look at more sources of information such as social media, review sites, etc.,” Kristin said.
Meanwhile, “Gen Z, on the other hand, are more likely to be persuaded by concise and straightforward information delivered by their favorite TikTok influencer or YouTube content creator.”
”Despite some overlap in what Gen Z and millennials expect from companies, they do have stark differences when it comes consuming products and services,” Kristin said and added: “Millennials like to spend on products and services that offer an experience even if it costs extra, while Gen Z are significantly more price conscious and expect companies to provide the best possible service at reasonable prices.”