From our fashion and music to hobbies and even food, everything’s become a #TBT. Why do we keep looking back?
In the span of a single morning, I’ve found myself playing a Spotify #Throwback Thursday playlist (Nirvana! The Smashing Pumpkins! Alice in Chains!… Britney Spears?), scrolling through a Buzzfeed Rewind post (or five), debating whether to wear a plaid shirt with faded jeans or a plaid skirt with a schoolgirl sweater, and swiping on a raisin-hued lipstick matte enough to make Kylie Jenner proud.
If it wasn’t already obvious, the 90s are back and they’re bigger than ever. We just can’t get enough, it seems, of that decade when every lid was smeared with a shimmery pastel shade, every lip painted a deep, dark brown, and every outfit included either floral prints (bright yellow sunflowers preferred), Westwood-inspired plaid, tie-dye, or acid-washed denim. It was the golden age of Nickelodeon cartoons, Clueless, bouncy butterfly clips, Sineskwela, platform flip-flops (!!!), endless boybands, and Tabing Ilog. It was a time when we had to patiently wait for our dial-up internet to connect before we could go on Yahoo! Messenger or mIRC, or pray our parents wouldn’t pick up the phone while we were illegally downloading music off Napster—God help you if you spent a mere six hours getting a bootleg copy of “The Crossroads,” only to find out that you mistakenly clicked on a link to a virus.
We millennials just love our nostalgia, and this mania for all things 90s is far from the first manifestation of this deep, abiding affection for things that…don’t exist anymore. Thanks to our parents or older siblings, our teenage years were spent in the midst of a 70s, disco revival. This was followed by a brief flirtation with the neon and glam of the 80s—thankfully, that blew over quickly. Screwing up all chronological expectations, for some reason, our hipster brethren found it necessary to jump decades back to the heyday of mid-century modern design, the time of record players and quirky laundry detergent ads, so we went there, too. Today, the 90s are officially The Coolest and Best Decade Ever.
It’s been 20 years since “As if!” was a relevant catchphrase, about as much time since Bath and Body Works’ Cucumber Melon literally perfumed the air (I was a Moonlight Path girl, myself), and way too long since The Spice Girls dropped an album. So, why on earth are we clinging to even the most obscure of pop culture nuggets of our youth?
It seems pretty straightforward, really, and somewhat of a cliché: it was a much simpler, happier time. Granted, our only responsibilities then were homework, keeping up with the ever-changing pairings on Dawson’s Creek, TGIF, or G-mik, and knowing all the lyrics to “Get Down (You’re The One for Me),” but we still had it pretty easy, compared to the Mandarin-learning, ballet-practicing two-year-olds our friends are starting to spawn. I guess you could say we were that lucky generation that not only had access to this wondrous thing called the Internet, slow as it was, but still knew what channel surfing really felt like and how the great outdoors actually looked.
Eventually, we grew up, and just as Friendster gave way to MySpace and then Facebook, our lives got more complicated. Like our broadband connections, the pace of life got faster and, sure, now we have constant social media alerts on our phones (synced accounts and all), but there are days when we yearn for a time when all we had to do to know what our friends were up to was to look out the window and see them playing patintero and negotiating who really got that tower of Pogs to fall over.
Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with looking so far back into our collective memory that there are Pinterest tutorials on how to make Nickelodeon-inspired slime, or eBay auctions for untouched Bonne Bell Lip Lites (they really were delicious, and totally on-trend now). We just have to keep in mind that although those glittery, shimmery, bedazzled times were our days of unchallenged, carefree glory, we’re living in the present, and if there’s anything we should be bringing back, it’s how we all experienced, reveled in, and truly lived the moments we were in. FRIENDS, after all, may have its reruns, but real life doesn’t.
About the author:
Gaby Ignacio is a 27-year-old writer and editor. She finds it very difficult to describe herself in one sentence. Disneyland is her happy place.
This post was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Cosmopolitan Philippines magazine.