20 Things Gen Z Will Never Understand

Gen Z doesn’t know just how good they have it. While they certainly face their fair share of problems, this younger generation never had to deal with some of the issues that plagued their predecessors. This goes beyond the accusation that the new kids on the block are ruining the world. Inter-generational fighting is nothing new, but there are some things that Gen Z will never understand, and they should be thankful for that.

Now, new tech advancements are popping up every day. But there was a time when now-obsolete inventions were the coolest creations the world had ever seen. While we certainly appreciate our ever-advancing world, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about the outdated technologies Gen Z never had to deal with. If you want to feel incredibly old, take a look below at just a few things Gen Z will never understand. 

1 Floppy Disks

News alert to all the kids out there: the save icon actually has an origin. It’s called the floppy disk. These handy little disks were at one time used to store all your data in the early days of the personal computer. 

While kids today can click into the cloud and find all their information, saving your data didn’t use to be that easy. In fact, it was pretty darn difficult to keep all that computer stuff straight. Plus, floppy disks didn’t even have that much storage space! Gen Z-ers can click a button and have all their information stored away. At one time, that was only a dream. 

2 The Magic of WordArt

Do people even use Word anymore? Or has the Microsoft Office suite been completely replaced by other applications? Whatever the answer is, today’s kids will never know about the magic of WordArt. 

When creating a presentation, WordArt was undoubtedly the first place you would look for inspiration. Of course, just any old title wouldn’t do. Instead, you had to choose the most eye-catching, most elaborate title in the WordArt gallery and mess around with it until it was absolutely perfect. Just choosing the title was the most time-consuming element of your project, and Gen Z will never get it. 

3 The Hours-Long File Download

Downloading files today is quick and easy. Seriously, you can download an entire movie in minutes. What’s more, you don’t even have to download. Instead, you can just use your file of choice over WiFi immediately after you find it. 

Well, buckle up, Gen Z, because downloading used to take a ridiculous amount of time. As in, days were spent just trying to get a single file onto your computer. Plus, the estimates were always dismally long. The actual download may not take 39 years, but after a few days of waiting, it may as well have been that long. 

4 Burning CDs

Before the days of Spotify and Apple Music, people had to find a different way to share their favorite tunes. That’s where burning CDs came in. Older generations would place a blank CD into the computer, choose the songs they wanted on that particular disc, and click the burn button to create a brand new copy. 

It was honestly a fairly simple task, and yet Gen Z has no idea how to do it. How? How have we advanced so far as a culture that they don’t even know how to burn CDs? There was a certain pride in creating the perfect mixtape and passing it off to someone you cared about or simply keeping it for yourself. Gen Z will never know. 

5 T9 Texting

Today, texting is one of the primary methods of communication. But that didn’t use to be the case. It wasn’t because people just loved talking on the phone. People refrained from texting because it was so time-consuming that it was rarely worth the effort. 

T9 texting, however, changed the game. T9 was a predictive text technology on your flip phone that would finish the word with just one push of a button. Before, you had to press each button up to four times to get the letter you wanted. Want to know something depressing? T9 texting still wasn’t that easy. The words messed up all the time, and finding the right buttons still took forever. Kids today with their full keyboards will never know the pain. 

6 The MySpace Profile

Poor Gen Z-ers will never understand the MySpace profile. Sure, they have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and all kinds of other social media, but those will never compare to the OG social networking site. 

Putting together your MySpace profile was an event. You had to choose the right layout, play the perfect song on your page, and pick your top friends carefully. Once you felt like everything was in a perfect position, it would only last a day or two before you were changing it all again. The fact that MySpace didn’t last is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern age. We miss you, Tom. 

7 AIM Messenging

Before the days of texting, kids relied on the power of AIM, AOL’s instant messaging system. After a long day of being ignored at school, you could always head home with the hopes of interacting with your crush on AIM. 

Little sounds indicated to your friends whether you were on or offline, and you simply had to wait until the person you wanted to talk signed on. It was all about patience, persistence, and a great away message. It rarely paid off in any kind of meaningful way, but it was entirely addicting nonetheless. 

8 VHS Tapes

If you think DVDs are an old-fashioned technology, you don’t even want to hear about the VHS tape. This was the original way to watch movies at home, and it wasn’t very convenient. Every time you watch a film, you had to rewind the VHS back to the beginning. If you didn’t, you would be forced to waste five minutes on rewinding before you could watch it the next time.

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At times, the film inside would get a little tangled, which required you to reach in and straighten everything before you could watch your movie. On the plus side, VHS tapes didn’t scratch anywhere near as easily as DVDs. In fact, they were practically indestructible. 

9 Old School Projectors

Digital projectors were a seriously cool invention that not all of us got to appreciate. Instead, older generations had to settle for this contraption, which is basically the worst projector in the world. Teachers would grab a clear sheet of plastic and write on it with a special, erasable marker before projecting it onto the blackboard or some kind of drop-down screen. 

Unfortunately, getting these projectors to focus and create a clear picture wasn’t easy. Beyond that, teachers also struggled to position them correctly to allow all the students to see what they were writing. Still, you were filled with an oddly comforting feeling when the teacher wheeled this out. 

10 Cassette Tapes

Before CDs even existed, practically in ancient times according to the kids of today, people used cassette tapes to enjoy their music. Like VHS tapes, the cassette used an actual magnetic strip that had to be rewound if you wanted to listen to it more than once. 

The first cassette tapes could hardly hold any music, so you really had to narrow down your library to your absolute favorites before you popped your tape into your Walkman. Although some kids apparently believe that it’s an ancient technology, it’s definitely not from Civil War times. 

11 Hanging Landlines

People barely have landlines anymore, much less phones you actually have to hang up when you’re done with a call. But we older generations remember the dark days when your phone was attached to the wall and limited by a very short cord. 

If you wanted to talk, you had to stand right next to the device and hope that everyone around you would be quiet enough to allow you to hear what was happening on the other end. Forget about privacy–the landline was often located in the kitchen where anyone could hear anything you said. It’s honestly a miracle that anyone ever talked on the phone in those days. 

12 No Caller ID

These old phones weren’t only difficult to use, they were also missing one key feature: caller ID. That’s right–the older phone models had no way of letting you know who was calling. That means people were picking up the phone to strangers and annoying acquaintances left and right. 

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Screening your calls is basically a contemporary cultural norm. Why would you ever answer the phone if you don’t know exactly who’s on the other end? It seems completely unimaginable, but it was the reality for a past generation. Imagine how many phone conversations we had to have, simply because we had no way to avoid them. We get chills just thinking about it. 

13 Window Cranks

Rolling down your window wasn’t always as easy as simply pressing a button. No, sir–if you wanted some fresh air in your moving vehicle, you had to work for it. Well, you didn’t have to work that hard, but you did have to use the hand crank. 

Window cranks are basically obsolete unless you have an older vehicle, which means that our beloved Gen Z-ers are totally oblivious to their existence. This is one older technology that we don’t miss, but we can’t help but feel a tiny bit of nostalgia whenever we see one of these pop up. 

14 The Original Pencil Sharpener

Electric pencil sharpeners are annoying and loud. But hand-crank pencil sharpeners…they’re on a whole new level. Instead of just inserting your pencil and waiting for it to sharpen, these little babies allowed you to choose the size of your pencil and grind it to the perfect level of sharpness.

Nevermind that the hand-crank pencil sharpeners often broke. Nevermind that they made the most disgusting metal-on-wood noise every time you used them. They were the perfect opportunity to get up from your seat and stand around your classroom, ideally chatting with your friends while you cranked away. They were entirely annoying, and we miss them every day. 

15 Video Rental Stores

Heading to the video rental store was the quintessential Friday night experience. At the end of a long week, you could strut into Blockbuster and pick out your favorite films to fill up the weekend– after you returned your previously rented movies, of course.

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There was nothing worse than discovering the film that you wanted was already all gone. Of course, you still had a few tried-and-true classics that you could always rent, if nothing else was available. Most exciting, however, was the opportunity to simply wander through the aisles, taking notes of new movies and planning future trips. Looking for films on a streaming service just isn’t the same. 

16 Dial-Up Internet

Dial-up internet was all the rage in the ‘90s, but that’s mostly because it was one of the only ways to connect. This form of browsing allowed your computer to establish a connection to the internet by dialing a telephone number. While you were browsing, you couldn’t use your phone. If you ever called someone and couldn’t get through, you could safely assume that they were just on the computer and you’d have to try again later. 

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Unfortunately, dial-up internet was also accompanied by some truly ungodly sounds as it struggled to connect. Irritating beeps, screeches, and static were the norm before you were finally able to browse, often at super-slow speeds. Why was using the internet so dang hard? 

17 TV Guide Channel

Back in the day, the only way to figure out what was on TV was to a) skip through every channel and hope that you weren’t missing anything due to commercials or b) sit through the endless scroll of the TV guide channel. The TV guide channel listed everything that was playing on your television at the current moment, and for about an hour after. 

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Unfortunately, you had no control over what you were seeing. You simply had to wait, twiddling your thumbs until your specific channel popped up and you could see what was on. If you missed your channel, you had to suffer through an entire cycle before you could get another peek. It was truly madness. 

18 LimeWire

Once again, Spotify and Apple Music didn’t always exist. Instead of searching for your favorite songs, you had to find a way to get your favorite tunes onto your computer that didn’t involve buying hundreds of CDs. That’s where LimeWire came in. 

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Using LimeWire, you could easily download files, including the latest hits, to your computer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t entirely legal, since it allowed users to share copyrighted works. LimeWire was officially shut down in 2010, but prior to that, it was the ultimate way to build your favorite mixtape. 

19 Disposable Cameras

Now, disposable cameras are a trendy way to take cute pictures. In fact, kids are editing their photos on their phone to make it look like it was taken on a disposable camera. But at one time, disposable cameras were all we had. 

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You couldn’t take a picture with a click of a button. Instead, you had to use up each picture on your camera, take the camera to Walmart, and wait a full day for your photos to develop. Once you got them back, you inevitably realized that many of them were blurry and unusable. Imagine waiting that long for a good picture, only to find out that your head isn’t even in the frame of your selfie. Talk about disappointment. 

20 Phone Books

Gen Z-ers can find anything on their phone. Looking for a local pizza place? Click into the maps app. Trying to find the number for your dentist? Visit Google. Everything is within reach, literally within seconds. 

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So how could Gen Z-ers ever understand the frustration of the phone book? Instead of clicking a few things and getting what you want, older generations had to flip through the Yellow Pages, searching sheet after sheet of tiny print before we could even dial the phone. Finding something in the Yellow Pages was an exercise in patience, and certainly not to be attempted when in a hurry. 


Cover photo credit: Reddit