The 80’s and Today: Two Different Worlds

Only in my dad’s time was the fashion so hot that it was actually on fire… Who knew that nylon parachute pants couldn’t be ironed? As the years go by, trends come and go, technology changes and grows, and memories are created and forgotten. The time that I live in now is similar to the time when my father attended high school in some ways, yet completely different in other aspects. From the crazy styles to the teched out gizmos, teenagers struggle to break free from their parents and declare themselves independent while trying to make their generation stand out from all the rest as the years continue. With this combination, an array of different times can come.

Within the past few decades, the world of electronics has drastically changed. New inventions are constantly created and each generation is quick to pick up on them, leaving the old to leave its mark on the past. From the small black and white TV that my dad would watch when he was in high school, I have become accustomed to the big screen high-definition TV sitting in our living room. With crystal clear pictures in vibrant color, it is difficult to imagine how my dad had vied it in colorless hues. Just as television sets, and music have changed and evolved throughout the years, the music players, which created the sounds, have also changed quite a bit. As I-pods are all the rage today, walkmans were the must-have item in my dad’s time. With cassette-tapes changing to CDs and now even to mp3 files downloadable from the Internet, the size of music players has diminished to the imaginary megabytes. Now, music can be played from one’s pocket with insignificant penny-sized headphones rather than clipping a bulky machine to the waist with a headset that engulfs the head. Although music can be instantly transported to an I-pod from the Internet nowadays, it was impossible when my dad was in school because the Internet hadn’t yet been invented. Computers were extremely new and only a few people even owned the cumbersome machines. From the black screens with the single flashing green line, computers have become more user friendly, customizable, and most of all, common. In my time, it is expected that everyone has a computer or laptop, the portable computer, with some form of Internet. Now that the Internet is accessible to the public, there are different versions along with computer models that are fighting for customer popularity. Releasing more opportunities into the world, computers give teens the ability to create reports, play games, watch videos, and listen to music, combining the cassette-players, typewriters, Ataris, and TVs of the 80’s all into one compact machine. With the help of gaming systems such as the Playstation, XBOX, Wii, Gamecube, DS, and PSP, games are now available in high definition with life-like graphics and hours of story development combined with entertaining challenges. Today, both my dad and I cannot even imagine being deprived with only Pong to play. With technology rapidly advancing, many more teenage hours are now wasted on the computer, watching televison, playing video games, and listening to music as opposed to the 80’s.

With the help of advancing technology, communication has also become a victim of its changes. Replacing the paper airplanes that would soar across the classroom and the neatly folded slips of paper that would stealthily slide from hand to hand, text messages have entered modern-day schools. Hidden within students’ hoodie pockets, cell phones quietly send secretly typed messages to another person, available only to their eyes and without the trouble of having to personally deliver the message. Although they are faster, more secretive, and easier to read than handwriting, they do have their disadvantages. Text messages don’t have the charm of the handwritten notes and are not able to display the cute hearts that girls from the 80’s would use to decorate them. There are no more outrageous folds that made the note unique and girls can no hold and treasure their love notes within their hands. All the customization that the teenage messages clenched on to has left, becoming enveloped in unison. Along with losing their charm, the notes have also received an increase in punishment. As a simple note from my dad’s time may get a day of detention or a stern warning from the teacher, a discovered text message can cause five or more days of detention along with the cell phone being confiscated. As notes have lost their personal touches, modern-day speech has also changed from the conversations of the past. Nowadays, conversations are more distracted with I-pod headphones in every teenager’s ears and the constant disruption of a ringing cell phone. With all of the new electronics hanging around, conversations are less personal and have even been replaced with digital speech such as Instant Messaging, E-mailing, texting, and talking on cell phones. Although the ways of communicating have changed from my dad’s youth to mine, the slang is pretty much the same. The words “cool,” “wassup,” and “whatever” are still used today as they were in the past with a few minor changes including the loss of the word “rad” and the increased use of swearing. Teenagers will always love to chat with one another, and although that may never change, the ways of expressing ideas will continue to evolve.

The most obvious choice for teenagers to express their independence and stand out from the crowd is to change their appearance. Every generation has its “extreme” looks, which are always completely different from those of other generations. From my time there are the emos and gangsta’s of modern-day. With hair flipped over half the face, tight pants that cuff at the ankles, and dark sorrowful eyes, usually shrouded in dark mascara, emos are stereotypically thought to be constantly depressed cutters that have modified the goth look a bit. The other extreme look of my era would be the gangsta’ look with extra large jeans that sag at the knees displaying plaid boxers, distracting gold chains that hang from the neck, oversized shirts, and diamond studs in the ears that give the image of a stereotypical gangster, even if the person really isn’t a member of a gang. From the 80’s, there were looks such as the Valley Girl look with mini skirts, shirts worn loosely over one shoulder, large belts over the clothing, and many dangly bracelets, all decked out in crazy neon colors. “Big hair” was also very popular at the time, especially large bangs and feathered hair. To match the crazy outfit, bold make-up tended to be overdone. The extreme looks have changed from my dad’s time to mine, but there is one that has passed on. The goth look with all dark clothing and heavy makeup around the eyes surrounded by pale skin and somewhat baggy clothing has continued through the ages. As I have seen people wear two different colored knee high tube socks, pajama bottoms, Etnies shoes, ripped jeans, hoodies, and flip-flops, my dad has also witnessed strange fashion statements such as swatches, parachute pants, leg warmers, penny loafers, Don Johnson jackets, and brightly colored shorts. With the trends passing by so quickly, we choose to jump on from time to time and sometimes feel saddened to see them pass by, although there will always be new ones on the way. Fashion statements may change from generation to generation, but will never completely disappear. Although the actual styles between the time of my father and that of myself may be different, it is the core idea that remains. To stand out with individuality and to leave a mark on the world drives one to choose strange choices, such as what to wear.

Within a changing world, it is no surprise to find differences from my life from that of my father’s, but even then, there are some similarities. When something tends to work well, such as blue jeans, it tends to stay, and when a constructive concept is created, such as switching classrooms, it continues over the years. Although there are memorable times from both eras, there will also be more to come, leaving these behind. Standing out from the crowd and making a statement will never be out of style.