The late 1980s was a unique period in history, marked by distinctive fashion, music, and cultural trends that continue to shape our world today. In this article, we reached out to people who experienced the late 80s firsthand, asking them to share their memories and impressions of this exciting time.
From the music and fashion to the political and social climate, we gathered a wealth of insights that offer a fascinating glimpse into what life was really like during this era.
The Music Was Amazing
There are few eras whose inhabitants have more fond memories of the music than the 80s. Something must have been in the air to simultaneously give way to so many iconic legendary talents like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. As one 80s kid noted, music videos were still a novel concept then. This meant many die-hard fans of artists were learning what they looked like for the first time.
Rap and hip-hop were starting to take off at this point. The era's music can best be described as electronic dance music and classic rock. Not many things have aged well as we outgrew the 80s, but the music definitely has.
People Spent More Time Outside and Less Time on Their Phones
In the late 1980s, people had far fewer options for entertainment than we do today, so they spent more time outside. Activities like playing sports, riding bikes, and hanging out with friends were commonplace. Unlike today, people were not glued to their phones, and being unreachable was not as big of a deal. This was the norm until fairly recently, but it's hard to imagine daily life like this now that everyone has an entire world begging for their attention in the palm of their hands at all times.
Less Technology Made Things Less Convenient But Simpler
Life in the late 1980s was more straightforward, with less technology to rely on. Personal computers were only starting to become popular, and most people still used typewriters, handwritten notes, and landlines to communicate. Although this made things less convenient, people were also less reliant on technology and had to rely more on themselves to get things done.
Without social media and phone addiction vying for their attention 24/7, there were fewer palpable distractions outside of TV. Speaking of TV, remember when you had to organize your entire life around that favorite sitcom or TV special when it was going to air because you couldn't record it or watch it elsewhere? Simpler times.
Fashion Was Insanely Extra
The late 1980s was a time of bold fashion statements, with neon colors, shoulder pads, leg warmers, and big hair being the norm. Both men and women wore tight, bright clothing and expressed their individuality through fashion. We all wish we had something holding our lives together with as much strength and reliability as the hairspray holding up everyone's fabulous ‘dos.
We can objectively say the fashion of the 80s was pretty erratic, if not terrible. That being said, dress-up themes are always the most fun with an 80s theme for this very reason. There's no such thing as mismatched, too bright, or too flashy. That's fundamentally 80s!
Was Less Emphasis on Material Possessions
80s inhabitants claim there was less emphasis on material possessions than today. Social status was not determined by the kind of car you drove or the brand of clothing you wore. Instead, people placed more importance on experiences, relationships, and personal values.
I believe there was less emphasis placed on it as a whole compared to today, but I don't doubt that the 80s were still a celebration of materialism. However, the next few points (the strength of the community and stronger family units) may have mitigated this.
There Was a Stronger Sense of Community
The community played an essential role in people's lives in the late 1980s. People knew their neighbors and often participated in community events like block parties, church picnics, and local festivals. People also tended to socialize more with their families and friends.
The Cold War Was Still a Major Concern
The late 1980s saw the tail end of the Cold War, and it was a time of high tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. The possibility of nuclear war was always in the back of people's minds, and they were concerned about the threat of a global conflict. Couple this with the timing of the AIDS crisis that was claiming countless lives, and you will notice a bleak reality that countered the happy music and bright neon colors people wore.
Because so much chaos was taking over the world, televangelists were vying for the attention of the American people as people were desperate for spiritual guidance in a world of uncertainty.
People Had More Privacy Before Social Media
Privacy was more abundant in the late 1980s before the rise of social media. People could go about their business without worrying about being constantly tracked and monitored. Social media had yet to make its mark, and people still maintained more control over their personal information.
Changes in the Economy & Family Unit Were on the Rise
As a certified survivor of the 80s tells it, most men were still employed in manufacturing, and most families were surviving off of one income, though this was starting to shift around this time. Divorces were also on the rise as no-fault divorce was enacted in 1970.
Economically, it was a signal of status if you had a satellite dish on your roof, as it signaled you were well off. While it was the expectation that you would go to college after high school, you could still easily get a job without a college degree or with a GED.
This thread inspired this post.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.