10 Things Millennials Will Never Understand


Although different research firms capture the Millennial generation as being born anywhere from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, Gallup Inc. uses the period from 1980-1996 to define this generation that older generations tend to view as entitled, sheltered and even narcissistic in nature.

There is even an offshoot of the Millennial generation called “Xennials” born roughly between 1977-1983 who have distanced themselves from this younger generation because of the generally negative characteristics that surround them.

Here are 10 throwbacks for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that Millennials will never understand.

1. Rotary dial telephones

Although RDTs have long been replaced with push-button phones, some younger folks think they’re relics from the time that Abraham Lincoln or George Washington lived. Equally confusing are corded phones. The Millennial masses can thank the cult hit show Stranger Things for re-introducing corded telephones.

2. Cassette tapes

These were delicate, compact carriers of music. Young couples in love would often court each other with their favorite “mix tapes” which took hours, if not days, to record select songs from LPs (a.k.a. vinyl records) onto cassettes as a romantic gesture.

3. Playing outside

“Outside” is the space between your front door and your car. Kids back in the day used to meet after school for snacks at one kid’s house then ride their bikes all over town or play some basketball until the streetlights came on, which signaled the time that they were supposed to be home.

4. Living unplugged

Forget Snapchat and Instagram. If you snagged an awesome rabbit fur coat at the mall, the only way to share the triumph with your friends was to physically ride your bike to their houses to show it off. (Yes, wearing real fur used to be socially acceptable.)

5. Paying with cash and checks

Before Vimeo, Paypal, the Square and other cloud-based payment services, folks used to carry cash in their wallets to pay for all their incidentals. When people would have to buy groceries or larger purchases such as appliances, school uniforms or auto repair bills, they would use paper checks. Credit cards were usually reserved for emergencies.

6. Human interaction

Back in the day, people used to actually speak to each other face-to-face and on the phone. They saw each others’ facial expressions and changing tones in their voices, so if someone was being friendly or sarcastic, you would know it right away.

7. Taxis

Before Uber and Lyft, if you really needed a ride, you called a taxi. And unless you lived in a major city like New York where taxis could be found on every street, you’d have to wait maybe an hour for your ride to arrive. The rates were exorbitant compared to today’s ride-sharing services, too. And without GPS, the drivers really needed to know the city well to get you where you were going, especially if you weren’t going to a major landmark like an airport.

8. Thomas Guide atlases

Speaking of the old days when technology hadn’t provided GPS to the masses, if you needed to get someone where you didn’t know the route, people had to physically consult the two-pound, spiral-bound Thomas Guide map book for their geographical area. Not nearly as simple as having Siri tell you when to turn left.

9. Video rental stores

The only ways to view movies outside a traditional movie theater were cable TV, which was a subscription-based service that you hoped your neighbor wouldn’t steal in the dark of night, or by renting a VHS video at a brick-and-mortar video store. Late fees were hefty!

10. CD storage binders

Before the days of iPods and smartphones, people stored their beloved music CDs in zippered canvas books that looked like small attaches. Smaller CD sleeves could hold 10 or 20 CDs and attach to your car’s visors.

Every generation thinks it’s better than the one after, and who knows who will come after Generation Z (those born from the mid-’90s to now)? Will technology render human interaction totally irrelevant? Will upcoming generations have to go to school to learn how to speak face-to-face with their friends and family? It will be fascinating to witness.