I am hankering over the past. Thinking about a more simple and less intense period of time.The nineties.
If you had asked me yesterday to give you my recollections of the nineties, I’d have said ‘bad fashion,’ and had not much else to say on the matter. But this morning I came across an old episode of ‘Frasier,’ and I started to feel jealous.
Yes, the clothes were awful, but the music was fabulous, the movies ace, the TV shows were classics in their own time (Friends, Frasier, Fresh Prince, Sex and The City) my friends were real-life tangible people, and the piece de resistance? There was no internet. No Facebook, no Twitter, no instant mail, no instant news, no mobile (cell) phones. Okay, technically that is not strictly true. There was internet (although it didn’t make it into my house until 1995) and you could get email (but nobody knew how to set it up,) and mobiles as big as house bricks had been around since the eighties (but how many people had them?)
But in other words, it was a less intense, a more relaxed period of time. You actually had time to do things other than check Facebook to see… what exactly? To get the news as it happens rather than waiting for the nine o’clock news, or god forbid, the newspaper the next morning. To find out that you’re overdrawn can wait until you go to the cashpoint surely? And as for emails; if it’s not marketing rubbish and circulars in digital form, it’s just bad news, but instantly! Like bills, or the letting agent who’s renting out your old flat advising you of a million maintenance issues that all need dealing with INSTANTLY! Instant bad news, f***ing fantastic.
I remember when I got my first mobile phone. It was in 1998 and my dad had got everybody one for emergencies. I had no idea how to use it and didn’t even know you could text message on it. Therefore it sat at the bottom of my bag and ran out of charge. Much like our own parents and grandparents do now. I eventually got a new one (a good old Nokia 3210) in 2000 I think it was and the text messaging revolution began. Instant messaging between friends, with increasingly annoying text message sounds. Remember the one that went – doo doo doo dooooo dooooo doo doo doo twice? Really loudly? Remember how cool you thought you were getting text messages? When it fact you were just f***ing off everybody in the pub/restaurant you were in?
I think it was about 2002 when I set up my first free email address, with Talk 21, and my older sister helped me to do it, haha. I only laugh because it’s funny to think I ever needed to be shown how to do something that my six-year-old could probably do now whilst standing on her head.
I managed to avoid social media for as long as I could. It was 2010 before I bothered to set up a Facebook account, and I only did that because I couldn’t get friends and family to respond to emails or text messages; the novelty of these instant messages having worn off many years before. Now people, including myself, leave it several days and sometimes weeks to answer emails or texts as we’re so p***ed off with the ‘instantness’ of it all. And no, I don’t care that ‘instantness’ is not a word.
I had a mini-revolution of my own in 2009 when I was so hacked off with instant messaging, and even computers in general, that I decided that from then on I was going to hand-write all my correspondence. The hand-cramp involved meant that that didn’t last very long, but ‘instantness’ was already getting on my nerves five years ago, and I’ve had another five years to grow the feeling.
But back to the nineties and bad fashion and bad hair. I’d take the bad fashion and the bad hair back tomorrow if I could also take the books, the bookshops, the newspapers, the taking-the-phone-off-the-hook so nobody could reach you, the relaxation, the simplicity.
Of course I know that the passage of time is what makes anything seem more fabulous and there were many things about the nineties that were hideous (Iraq war, Bosnian war, et al) but today I am coveting my younger self who had no idea how lucky she was.