I must have read this article, in several variations, sent to me as a forward from a friend through email. To have been a child of the 80’s, however, I question what the age would have to be. I was born in 1975, so I was only five in 1980. I didn’t hit my teen years
, which I would assume is the main source of generational memories but not the only one, until 1988, so much of this memorabilia is lost on me.
I do however, consider myself a product of the 80’s by way of parental absence. I think it is the social dictums of a time frame that unite us more than the byproducts of the entertainment or fashion industry, but since they are easier ways in which we mark time in modern society, we are tempted to unite under their symbols than the not-so-uplifting symbols of the same period. Latch key kids. A decline in the birth rate in the wake of the 70’s and abortion. The residue of parents who grew up in the 50’s clashing hard with their late in life offspring, as mine were, while still nursing the wounds my elder siblings inflicted on their old fashioned sensibilities. My older sister and her skin tight jeans she had to lay on a bed to button up, or my brother with his stoner friends. By the time I made it in, there was cable TV and a set in every room, there was TV at dinner and in the evenings, while my mother made dad a hi-ball drink and sat next to him with her beer and I was in bedroom, watching my own set.
It is no surprise to me, if anyone reading this can relate to half of my experiences, that we plunged ourselves into the icons of our age. How many "you know you were a child of the 70’s if…” forwards do you get? What were the kids born 10 years before us doing? Historically significant stuff, or so I’m told. Even if they had done nothing they were part of a movement, but I will not slant them for the luck or lack thereof in their timing, since I wouldn’t want their heritage. I am content with my own.
Perhaps I am thinking too much about the whole issue, but I guess seeing it so frequently, seeing it passed off as something always amusing, gets me to thinking that there are more stories behind the surface of these random lists of things that make us bond with people our age. Perhaps it is a consolation for all the things that we may have felt we were cheated simply because of when we were born on the timeline. And now, being the largest generation, we are now being taken seriously only in how we spend money, as a marketing bracket companies now cater to (see my node on Ford Frontline). All the famous people we grew up with are dying or dead, and there seems less to fill their places. And it is up to us to reinvent how things work, whether we do something about it or not. The whole world is looking at us, and it's not always comforting to realize that, whether you care or not.
If I had been born any earlier, I would get more irritated at the teens today who are mimicking the style of the early 80’s. I would feel that it is too soon to renew those trends again, and it would make me feel older than I really am. I would likely complain more, maybe care more. It is no big surprise to me that I tend to get along better with people a few years younger than myself, because they aren’t as reminiscent about the era that I am trapped in simply because my mother had an affair with her first husband and got pregnant. And no, the father wasn’t my dad. Welcome to the 80’s.
I can’t end this node with the last line. That’s too pessimistic. I am not dogging all of anyone’s childhood, but I do think there are deeper things we can link ourselves to without being so focused on one facet of that time. Sure, music and movies and fashion trends are the big part of every generation, and they reflect that era’s mental processes. But the source invariably comes from society and is a direct reflection thereof, not the other way around.