Recently, I saw a music video by a YouTube sensation who calls himself MattyB. As I write this, the video, for the song “Spend It All On You,” has 3,419,123 views.
People love MattyB. They really love him! MattyB is 14 years old. I am 29 years old, so this video put me in mind of being just another profoundly out-of-touch Old. Is this what the kids like these days?
Anyway, experiences such as this one can really get you thinking about the temporality of trends, as well as your own mortality. In that spirit, come and take a walk with me through this fun list of Things Today’s Teenagers Have Never Seen Before That Will Remind You Of Your Inevitable Death—or, if you are one of Them, consider it a history lesson:
“We tend to think of our experiences growing up as being universal; that one generation’s perception of the world is the same as every other, and that each person’s childhood is more or less ubiquitous,” Callum Henderson writes for Viral Thread. “Depressingly however, that’s not the case. The fact is that kids are watching different shows, listening to different music, following new trends and enjoying new technology.”
Wait, WHAT? Pretty shocking information, but Callum is right! It’s true that, as time passes, technology does change, and the Youngs who were once blasting Walkmans then blasted CD players then blasted iPods now blast Spotify or Soundcloud or whatever thing I’m too unhip to know about through their iPhones.
Before there were sleek noise-canceling Bose headphones or teeny earbuds, there were headphones like these with foam on the earpieces, which all seems very dorky and rudimentary now, though I do often wonder what sound reverberating directly into your earholes will mean for hearing loss later on.
LimeWire Music Downloads
Speaking of music: oh my god. If your entire body isn’t racked by powerful waves of nostalgia when you think of LimeWire windows filled with illegal downloads from OutKast, K-Ci & JoJo, and, if you were pining over a fauxlightened f***boy who secretly hated but also wanted to edify you, Radiohead—then you were either homeschooled or you were not coming of age around the turn of the century.
“When I was growing up, the main bad boy of the downloading game was always Limewire,” Tom Usher recalls in Vice. “Sure, it had more viruses than you could shake a stick at and was horribly slow, but it was always user-friendly.”
Unfortunately, during Usher’s attempt to resurrect the past, he ran into page after page of “site can’t be found.” “After doing some research, I found that Limewire had actually been shut down way back in 2010 after more lawsuits and court hijinks, so there were no new working versions available,” he writes.
“Various wikis explained that not only do old versions not work, they also have many trojan horses in them, and I didn’t want to take the risk and not be able to finish the rest of this article.” Understandable.
Blockbuster Membership Cards
If, like me, you were raised as a devout Christian in an Arkansas suburb, one of the most interesting possibilities for your Friday night between ages 11 and 13 was probably to have your mom drive you and your best friend to Blockbuster to rent a PG-13 movie and buy a box of chocolate-covered cookie dough bites. This movie was perhaps a DVD, but it may well have been an actual VHS tape, which, for the Youngs out there reading this, is like two old-timey film reels encased in a black plastic rectangle.
Back when Redbox and Netflix were just blooming and movie stores were dying out, my mom loved to lament the changing times and the resultant loss of community. I poked fun at her for it, while not completely disagreeing, but as late as 2013, The Atlantic was moved enough to offer a eulogy to the video rental store. Pretty bitterly, it reads:
“You can find most movies on the Internet now. Between Netflix, iTunes and other less legal means, most things you’d ever want to watch are a few tippity clacks on a keyboard away. But those memories, those moments of discovery, those human connections through film are all lost to time. We can simply stay home in our sweatpants instead, wiping the Doritos, ordered on Seamless, on our shirts without a care in the world. We can let the Internet do the work for us. Isn’t that the utopia we’ve always wanted?”
Trix spoons, you guys! TRIX CEREAL! Remember it? So colorful. So fragrant. So fruity. The best part was letting it absorb just the right amount of milk, so that the outside of the fruit-shaped pieces retained enough crunch to contrast with their soggy centers, which would give against your molars like some red-40, magichemical pound cake, delivering the best (sugar) high of your young life until you could wash it all down with rainbowed milk.
I am salivating.
Reception of the Trix rabbit, however, was more ambivalent. I don’t remember if this was a personally held belief, or if I heard someone say this on a sitcom, but I seem to remember always being upset by the fact that the Trix rabbit could not get his hands on that cereal. (“Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!”) Just observe his passion, his delusion.
It was hard to be mad at Trix’s “magic spoons,” though—bunny-shaped utensils that changed colors in milk.
Planters P.B. Crisps And Cheez Balls
While I have no emotional attachment to Cheez Balls, P.B. Crisps—the “peanut butter with a crunch” snacks introduced by Planters in 1992—were simply perfect. Julie Sprankles, writing for Bustle, says, “I can’t imagine what my ’90s cafeteria days would have been like without this sweet afternoon pick-me-up, but that is the sad reality for cafeteria-lunching kids today.”
She isn’t the only one mourning their loss. On change.org, someone even started a petition to bring back Planters Cheez Balls and P.B. Crisps. It pleads: “Food is a wholly and completely unbiased, nonpartisan, and terribly vital component of what it means to be human. I have faith in humanity, but if we can’t even agree on scrumptious snacks, then I don’t know what we can agree on. Let’s get Kraft Foods to bring back these wrongly discontinued and super tasty Planters products! Who’s with me?”
Though now closed, the petition did find 820 supporters.
Orbitz New Age Drinks
Ever wondered what it would be like to drink the contents of a lava lamp? Well, unless you were alive in the 90s and able to witness firsthand the short-lived existence of Orbitz drinks with little floating balls, you will probably never know.
Apparently, it wasn’t a hit. It made Time‘s list of “Top 10 Bad Beverage Ideas.” They write:
“Marketers called Orbitz a ‘texturally enhanced alternative beverage,’ but most consumers just called it gross. The ill-fated fruit drink featured brightly colored balls of gelatin floating unnervingly inside, leading some to compare the Canadian export to a portable lava lamp. A cough-syrupy taste and incoherent ad campaign about its origins on Planet Orbitz (‘Prepare to embark on a tour into the bowels of the Orbiterium,’ its website invited) didn’t help matters, and the drink was shelved within a year of its debut in 1997.
“The name of the failed product is now better known as a popular travel website, though unopened bottles are still available as novelties on eBay.”
Bob Barker On “The Price Is Right”
These days, The Price Is Right is hosted by…Drew Carey? It just feels wrong, and not because he looks a lot like my brother-in-law. This may be unfair, since I haven’t watched The Price Is Right in…ever? Maybe ever. But whatever, Bob Barker was the longest host—and for many, he will always be the true host. Surprisingly, he is still alive, at least according to his Wikipedia page, which says he is 93 years old.
His Wikipedia page also says: “He is best known for hosting CBS’s The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American television history.” And: “When his wife Dorothy Jo died, Barker became an advocate for animal rights and of animal-rights activism, supporting groups such as the United Activists for Animal Rights and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.”
This last piece of information seems relevant when considering the top two quotes attributed to Bob Barker, also on his Wikipedia page:
“Nothing gives me quite so much joy as when people tell me they’ve had their pets spayed or neutered.”
“I can tell you that I’d rather be kissed by my dogs than by some people I’ve known.”
The Windows Start Maze Screensaver
The Windows 95 maze screensaver has lodged deeply in the hearts of many as a mysterious, hypnotic distraction. Jessica Blankenship describes it in Bustle as “the first time I came to know the blissful, self-loathing joy of spacing out for hours in front of a computer screen.”
If you sift through the comments of any given YouTube video of the screensaver, you’ll find comments like these:
“I still remember how this screensaver used to amaze me when i was a kid.”
“I remember watching this for ages when I was a kid. One of my fave Win98 screensavers.
But, I had a slightly different version of this. It had an overlay showing where the ‘camera’ was in the maze, even showing where the mice were, and the start and finish areas. I dunno if that was an edited version or what. But I thought that was cool because you could see where in the maze you were as the screensaver went on.”
“Used to scare me big time”
“I remember just watching this screensaver for hours as a kid….”
“This feeling man ;(“
Yes, that feeling. We know it well.