Today a friend and I were talking on the phone, and she mentioned something that I thought was interesting. This friend was born in 1980, and I was born in 1979. we are both undergraduates in college, although we are getting close to an age where we are no longer "college age". We were talking about how we felt going to school with people a few years younger than us. She mentioned that quite apart from the normal differences of associating with people four or five years younger then her, there was a specific cultural difference, almost a generation gap, between herself and people sometimes just a year below her.
We talked about this, and we found that there is a generation gap between people who entered junior high around 1992 or 1993, as opposed to those who entered junior high in 1994 or 1995. The entire way of viewing popular culture between me and her, and people two years younger than us, is different. The reason for this is possibly that in the early 1990s, as cliche as it sounds now, bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were called alternative and actually were. People who came of age then and embaced "alternative" culture saw of themselves as "a little group", and saw the mainstream culture as in opposition to them. However, fairly quickly, as early as 1994, mainstream culture begin to absorb "alternative culture". I remember how shocked I was to see blond haired, soccer girls wearing Pulp Fiction t-shirts in 1994. Soon, music and fashion that had once been polarized between "alternative" and "mainstream" were fused together. Wearing a nose ring, for example, which had once been an "anti-fashion" statement had become yet another fashion statement. Countercultural attitudes, instead of being opposed to the mainstream, were seen as being the height of "coolness". While nose rings and choices of musical styles may seem quite trivial, the later ramifications of a youth culture that didn't understand the difference between being "popular" and "cool" are still being felt.
Note, however, that this is just the view of someone who was going to an alternative private school in the early 90s in Portland, OR. This 3 year generation gap may not be a factor in other areas where the mercurial nature of youth culture took a different road.