My generation: The life and times of the 1990s

Chris Kallio

If there exists one decade to revisit and grow up in, it is the 1990s. How can this be, one may ask? First and foremost: Find a simpler, more peaceful and enjoyable decade, and this column will cease.

The paranoia and melancholy of the 1950s, the assassinations and divisions of the 1960s, the deceit and pessimism of the 1970s, and the greed and irresponsibility of the 1980s all cannot hold a candle to the simplicity of the 1990s, the beloved decade this graduating class existed in peacefully.

The duck-and-cover paranoia our parents grew up with ended when we were two years old. The 9/11 fear and hysteria began our freshmen year of high school. For the roughly twelve years in between, we concentrated on the Oregon Trail, Captain Planet, finding Carmen Sandiego, Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, the Letter People and Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs. Mufasa’s death was more concern to us than AIG. This was an age before Facebook, before Twitter, when the country wasn’t anxious about never-ending wars and giant deficits, when a kid could be a kid. And, as it has commonly been said, it was when Pluto was a planet.

Our generation witnessed the birth of the Internet, the return of “Star Wars,” the rise of Harry Potter, “The Simpsons,” Jon Stewart as our Johnny Carson and the Age of Obama, and quite possibly will be the next Greatest Generation. It may require more of an augmentation of our compassion, commitment and concern over the stereotypes that have rendered us the Diva Generation or Generation Me.

But we can proudly tout our prevalent tolerance and acceptance, something we have more than generations before us (after all, we voted for the current black president by a margin of 66 percent) and something our children will have more than us. We know only of segregation because of the pages found in our history books.

But all children grow up (except one – lucky jerk), and we leave this institution now as “adults” in a mess we certainly didn’t intend or expect to find ourselves in. To say it’s a scary, prodigious world out there simply cannot describe the reality that is what we find ourselves in today. I don’t think we’re in the 1990s anymore.

So if we get through this and we grow old to tell our story to future generations, what will we speak of? Will we tell them that we didn’t allow Darfur to be forgotten, that we solved the climate crisis, that we defeated extremism and poverty? That we didn’t just sit around and blame Hollywood or the government for every problem we face? What will we tell our children?

Let us go without fear as we become individual men and women and live lives to tell great stories of our generation. Let us become heroes and heroines as we persevere through any tragedy and triumph over any challenge. Let us make this country stronger and ourselves stronger. Remember that if you love life, life will love you back. As Woody Allen once said, “We have been given the perfect world. Please don’t screw it up.” Let us rebuild the 1990s.

Chris Kallio is a senior integrated social studies major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.