What I Assume Postgrad Life Was Like In The ’90s


The 1990s were an interesting time for me. I feel like a lot of my general inspirations came about in the ’90s, even though I lived out most of my adolescence after the turn of the millenium. The ’90s were also a particularly great decade for America. Say what you will about Slick Willy, but he presided his two terms in office over a mostly prosperous economy and a booming expansion into global markets. Unemployment was at all time lows, and it seemed like grunge fans were the only ones not having a great time.

I’d love to know what life was like for someone graduating college during this time, but instead of interviewing people of that age and doing some research, I’m just gonna make a bunch of assumptions, because that’s more fun and less work.

1. Jobs

We’ve pretty much established that postgrads are getting the shaft in our current job market. Unless you did some Jedi-level networking in school or have family connections, you probably don’t have the job you want, if you even have one. I’m not saying people my age aren’t employed, but I don’t know anyone under the age of 30 who likes his or her job. Sure, this begs the question of whether postgrads have an entitled state of mind to think we should enjoy our jobs at such a young age, but the only reason we think this way is because the generation ahead of us said we would. If someone had warned us from birth that we were going to have to wade through shit and get paid only marginally more than we did at our high school retail jobs, then maybe we wouldn’t be so bummed about it.

Twenty years ago, the economy was humming along so well, you could throw a hissy fit when your boss bought the wrong flavor of cake for your birthday, quit your job, and have three interviews and an offer before drinks at Bennigan’s that night.

2. Money

They had stacks on stacks before stacks on stacks was a thing. When the economy is booming, it means cash for everyone–even the lowly college grad. I have no evidence to back this up, but I’m convinced everyone had a company car in the ’90s, including the interns. Sure, the cars were ugly as fuck, but it’s not like we knew that back then anyway. Self-important columnists wrote treatises on how Generation X was too self-involved and lazy because the money came so easily to them. How could anyone understand the value of hard work if all you have to do was show up and wait for scantily-clad women to dump buckets of cash on you? (This is how I assume payday happened before the invention of direct deposit.) Well, guess what? Our generation doesn’t get paid shit, and self-important columnists are STILL writing treatises about how awful we are at being responsible human beings. Can we at least have some of the money to go with the guilt?

3. The Exclusivity Of Technology

The ’90s were the zenith of prime technology being both wondrous and yet mostly affordable. If you were a young professional, you could afford a cell phone, but it was still a big deal that you had a cell phone. On the other hand, I held onto my slider phone all the way through college and two years after until it finally gave up on me. By the time I got my iPhone, no one gave a shit. You know who else has an iPhone? Everyone: Children, poor people, and the elderly, who don’t even know how to use them. We all exist on the same technology plane now, which means there’s no wonder to be had.

It applies to everything now. You don’t see a guy in a sharp suit with his fancy cell phone and aspire to be him, because you already have the same phone as him, and you can get a fully tailored suit online for the price of an above average bar tab. But has this equity created a utopia where we all have nice things and love each other? No. The world still sucks. War still happens, our leaders still lie to us, and girls still date assholes. The only difference now is that we get to complain about it in a more egalitarian way, and we take all of our incredible technology and access for granted, because everyone has it.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that the ’90s were a perfect utopia of oblivious clothing and hairstyles, along with awesomely stylized action movies. If you were lucky enough to be a postgrad in that magical time period, you lived through what was likely the greatest decade in human civilization. And no, I don’t need any people in their 30s telling me how wrong I am. Let me have this conviction–otherwise the rest of my belief system crumbles like a Lego tower made by my cousin, Ronny.

Ronny’s a dumbass.

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Randall J. Knox

Randall J. Knox (known colloquially to his friends as "Knox") left his native Texas a few years ago, and moved to Los Angeles in his '03 Buick Regal named LeRoi to write movies with his jackass college buddies. His favorite things in life include bourbon that's above his pay grade, mix CDs, and Kevin Costner films. He isn't sure what "dad jeans" are exactly, but he knows he wants a pair.

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