A Case For Why The 90s / Early 2000s Was The Best Time To Be Alive

As someone who grew up in the late 90s and early 2000s, I can't help but feel like it was the best time to be alive. Sure, every generation has its ups and downs, but there was something special about that era that I think we'll never quite experience again.

For starters, it was a time when the internet was still new and exciting. We were just starting to discover the things we could do online, from chatting with friends late into the night on AIM to buying things on Ebay and exploring the treasures of eBaums World. It was a time before social media took over our lives, before we were constantly glued to our screens. 

But it wasn't just the introduction of the internet that made that era so great. It was also a time when we spent a lot of time outdoors. We ran around outside with our friends for hours with no way for our parents to get in touch with us, rode bikes, went swimming, and played games like man hunt in the back woodsy area behind our best friend's neighbors house. We didn't have smartphones or tablets, so we were forced to be creative and make our own fun. We picked up skateboards and bmx bikes, maybe some of us had Heelies or even a pair of soapshoes. We got lost in our neighborhoods without the use of Google Maps and when we were younger (and if we were lucky) we made it home before the street lights came on. 

Of course, technology was still increasing at a rapid pace during that time. But it hadn't yet taken over our lives the way it has now. We had cell phones, but they were flip phones with small screens and limited capabilities. We had to text via T9 word, we programmed ring tones into our phone and forced our friends to listen to ringback tones like 'Cam'ron's - Hey Ma' every time they called us. We had computers, but they were clunky and slow compared to the sleek laptops we have today.  We had PS1s and played Tony Hawks Pro Skater and Metal Gear Solid late into the night with our friends in the room with us, fighting over the two controlers on the couch. It was a time when we could appreciate technology for what it was, without feeling like we were constantly beholden to it, and we still had our privacy.

Another thing that made that era so different from today was the dominance of MTV, music videos, and magazines as the arbiters of cool. These were the places we went to discover new music, new trends, and new ways of being. We watched TRL to see which music videos were the most popular, and instead of binging TV shows we devoured songs from our favorites bands and when we couldn't get their CDs, tried to illegally download their songs on Limewire. We made mix CDs for just about every occassion and gifted them to our friends and crushes. We read magazines like Seventeen and Nylon Mag to get fashion and beauty tips. We circled our favorite outfits in Alloy and dELiA*s catalogs and covered our bedroom walls in posters and torn out pages from magazines. 

There was something about the music of that era that was so raw and authentic. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden had laid the foundation for the grunge movement in the early 90s, and by the late 90s - early 2000s, we were seeing the emergence of pop-punk and indie bands like Blink-182, Green Day, Paramore, and the Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs. These were bands that spoke to us, they understood our angst. They were the soundtrack to our lives, and we couldn't get enough of them.

In many ways, the late 90s and early 2000s were a time of transition. We were moving from the analog world to the digital world, from the old ways of doing things to the new. It was a time when anything seemed possible, when we were full of hope and excitement for the future. Looking back now, it's easy to feel nostalgic for that era, for the simplicity and innocence of those times. But even though we can never go back, we can still appreciate all the things that made that era so special, and continue to carry them with us as we move into the future.