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25 "You Just Had To Be There" Aspects Of Pre-2020s Childhood That Older Adults Will Instantly Remember

Nothing makes me feel older than remembering the days of going to my family's computer room and popping in The Sims or logging into AOL Instant Messenger. It's wild to think kids today will never share these core memories. So when redditor u/Subject_Thorn asked the r/AskReddit community to share the things that 2020s kids won't ever experience, older adults had a lot to say. Here are a few that made me feel incredibly nostalgic.

1."Waiting for a new episode to come on at 7:30 and yelling into the kitchen that it's starting."

Old CRT TV displaying "Frasier" title screen, on a cabinet with gaming console, dolls nearby

2."I was at work the other day when our department's landline phone started ringing. One of my coworkers (my age-ish, 30s) called out, 'I'll get it!' I felt a weird sort of sad, nostalgic pang. You don't hear that much anymore."

u/AussieDog87

"As kids, we would race to see who could answer the phone first. Nowadays, I do everything possible to avoid answering my phone."

u/mrglumdaddy

3."Downloading a song for two hours and finding out it's a virus."

Screenshot of LimeWire software showing a list of music files available for download

4."Waking up early on Saturday morning so you could watch the next episode of your favorite cartoon."

u/Dr_Galio

5."Calling your crush's house and politely asking a scary dad if you can speak with Tanya. And then they say, 'That depends, who's calling?"

Person relaxing on bed with patterned sheets, talking on a corded phone, evoking a retro vibe

6."Hearing your favorite song on the radio and waiting for it to come on again so you can record it on a blank cassette tape to listen to later."

u/Lopsided_Platypus_51

7."Watching that ticker at the bottom of the TV to see if school was closed, only for them to cut to a commercial when it's time for yours to show up. I watched that thing like an NBA draft."

List of school closures due to weather, including St. Labre, Billings Catholic, and others

8."Driving to someplace new with an actual physical map."

u/DIABLO258

"Or not even having that and instead, going off a crudely drawn map on the back of a napkin or some such with 'Turn right at the big red barn' style directions."

u/JimTheJerseyGuy

9."Going to the movie store."

A Blockbuster Video store interior with shelves of DVDs and a distinctive sign above

10."Having to watch the nightly news with your parents because you only have one TV."

u/Paparazzit23

11."Dial-up internet and AOL chat rooms."

America Online logo with icons showing a running figure, a letter, and a person with a raised hand, indicating connection

12."Life without smartphones."

u/Mountain_Ad938

"Before smartphones, there was no expectation for you to respond so fast and no location tracking. You could just disappear for a bit and get back to them later. Now the expectation is you just about always have your phone on you and are therefore reachable."

u/DistinctPlantain2230

13."Buying a video game with everything it should have on it without providing an update or paying for extra content."

Vintage TV displaying the Mario Kart 64 game menu on a screen with selectable options for gameplay modes

14."Being responsible for zero parental contact and simply needing to come home when the streetlights came on."

u/inspiredguy40

15."Scheduling your television consumption around an ironclad TV schedule, pre-streaming and pre-TiVo/recording. Not to get all Boomer sounding, but I feel that the strict schedule and dealing with the consequences of being late/missing entire episodes had an enormous impact on society's overall sense of entitlement."

TV screen showing a program guide with broadcast channels and times, and a close-up of a man from a movie

16."The joy of going to school without social media. I remember getting bullied in middle school and having a terrible time. But all that could have been so much worse if smartphones and apps were a thing back then. Kids today must be so stressed out just trying to tune it out."

u/moenblast

17."Fixing the antenna to get a better picture on the TV or making one with a coat hanger."

Vintage television with rabbit-ear antenna on a wood floor against a plain wall
Lokibaho / Getty Images

18."Meeting family/friends at the gate at the airport instead of baggage claim or the curb."

u/Infuryous

19."Choking to death on smoke wafting over from the smoking section of every restaurant while you try to eat."

Man in a checkered jacket lighting a cigarette at a restaurant, with another patron in the background

20."Exploration. As kids, we played video games, but we also went outdoors, finding forest areas to investigate. We enjoyed checking out odd areas people generally would never go into, such as those little wooded areas between roads. Our parents didn't care as long we gave them an idea of what we were doing ahead of time in case we got lost or hurt. We would have a small fire, just enough to roast some marshmallows, and then put it out and usually make it back in time for supper."

u/MyLandIsMyLand89

21."Developing a roll of film and all the pictures are bad."

Two strips of film negatives showing pixelated images, likely from a video game, displayed in front of a blurred background

22."Getting kicked off the internet because mom needs to make a call."

u/gnomeybeard

23."Having to check the newspapers to see when new movies were released and what theater they were playing at. Kids today won't ever experience that."

Newspaper ad showing Cinemark movie listings with times for August 28, 2012

24."Snow on Christmas, at least most of the time. I'm almost as far north in the USA as you can get, and snow just doesn't stick around anymore. It snows once or twice in December, and it melts in a day. Twenty-five years ago, you were lucky if there wasn't a blizzard on Halloween."

u/Faust_8

25."Having a CD binder the size of Merriam-Webster's dictionary for road trips."

Compilation of various CDs including Weezer in a binder, evoking late '90s to early 2000s music nostalgia

Is there anything you grew up with that kids today will never experience? Let us know in the comments, or fill out this anonymous form!

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.