It doesn’t take a historian to tell us that technology was a lot less present in people’s lives in the ’90s. Computers and phones were used, but not all the time. Many new gadgets and electronics were being released at the time but they played a smaller role in our daily lives. For example, the average 8-year-old who lived in the ’90s probably spent less time playing video games than the average 8-year-old in 2015. Cell phones also became more popular, especially in the early 2000s. However, people didn’t constantly have them in their hands back then because they could essentially only be used to make calls.
I find that there was a better balance between technology and life back then and the usage of computers during the ’90s illustrates this well. Computers were mostly used at work and not at home. In fact, only a fraction of the population had a computer at home during the ’90s. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, only 42% of U.S. adults said they used a personal computer in February 1990. Today, we not only spend all day on our computers at work, but when we come back home we spend another couple of hours on the internet doing some “not so important stuff”. (And yes, I am sometimes guilty of that as well sometimes.)
You might argue that back then, people would come back home from work and watch more TV instead of spending more time online which isn’t any better. I would say that watching TV is still a little better than spending hours on your PC because one can watch television in the company of others. When you are surfing the internet on your laptop, you are usually alone.
The ’90s also seemed like a time with more face to face conversations. The one thing I really love about Seinfeld is that the show often started in the diner or in Jerry’s kitchen. I know that it’s just TV and not real life and I could be completely wrong here, but I truly think that people met up in person a lot more back then just to say hello or make plans for the weekend. Now we tend to text and chat with our phones and through social media.
I might seem very nostalgic and you might even think that I am a “technology hater” or something. But I’m not. I’m totally happy with everything our current decade has to offer and I find technology very useful. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a life without the internet. In fact, without the internet, I wouldn’t be able to share my ideas with you so easily. Nevertheless, I do feel like we could use our electronics more deliberately and I think that if we adopted a “technology/life balance” modeled after people’s usage of electronics in the ’90s, our lives would be a little more simple and uncomplicated overall.
In my eyes, this decade was a time of transition, where we had most of the benefits that modern technology had to offer but still had some old fashioned customs and habits from simpler times. Technology was present and it was being used to do amazing things just as it is today. However, I think we had an easier time stepping away from it back then. We probably won’t see another decade like it. So once in a while, try turning your super-phone or smartphone off for a few hours and bring yourself back to the ’90s. Let me know how it goes.
N.B. I don’t remember this decade too well because I was only 4 once when New Millennium came around. I might not have lived much in this period of time but I still think I have a pretty good idea of what life was like back then. However, if you think that something in this post is inaccurate, please let me know.