Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
December 22, 2023 ·  11 min read

Millennials Share 30 Things Generation Z Doesn’t Know About, And It Will Make You Feel Old

Intergenerational squabbles are nothing new. Every generation thinks that the generation before them had it easy and that the one younger than them is the worst. For millennials, we blamed the Boomers for, well, basically all the economic hardships we’ve faced while they told us it’s only because we are frivolous with our money. Meanwhile, Gen Z was growing and suddenly Millennials became – uncool? Out of style? Feeling old yet? Well, you’re about to feel older: Here is a list of 30 things that Gen Z doesn’t know about or doesn’t understand that Millennials grew up with.

30 “Millennial” Things Gen Z Doesn’t Know About To Make You Start Feeling Old

Despite not being that much younger than Millennials, Generation Z grew up differently. For example, despite being on the younger end of the Millennial generation, I still remember the day our family got our first computer, then the first one with the internet, VCRs, and life before cell phones. Gen Z, on the other hand, grew up with technology. By the time they hit high school, Facebook was already steadily losing ground against Instagram and Snap Chat; and now there is Tik Tok, which is a whole other story. Naturally, there are a few things that this generation simply never used and therefore doesn’t know about or understands. Get ready to start feeling old – let’s dive in!

1. Film Cannister

Image Credit: Alltheway80s

This is a film canister for a film camera. For Gen Z, they don’t likely remember much about film cameras. They grew up in the age of digital cameras and now smartphone cameras that produce incredible quality photos. Naturally, many millennials will also admit they had another use for these cameras that involves using them to stash a certain substance that is still illicit in some states and countries. (Hint: It’s legal in Canada and some states, such as California).

2. The Floppy Disk

Image Credit: Bill Gross

I still remember saving some school projects on a floppy disk when I was in grade school. Generation Z, however, knows nothing more about this other than that it is the “save” icon on a word document and other places.

3. Why We Say “Hang Up The Phone”

Image Credit: English Jason

Feeling old yet? This is something I never considered. Someone who grew up without phones that you need to at least put back in a holder after use wouldn’t understand this phrase. In fact, much of Gen Z probably doesn’t even remember a time when we had home phones, to begin with.

4. Wordart

Image Credit: Luxurjous

Remember doing a report for school and having to decide what kind of word art you were going to put on your presentation? I do. Gen Z, however, has never and will never know.

Image Credit: BabyySims

That’s right: Children born in the year 2000 are now of legal drinking age in every country around the world. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will.

6. “Classic” Rock

Image Credit: Alyssa Breck

Anytime music you listened to when you were younger ends up on the classic, retro, oldies, or “throwback” stations is when you know you’re getting older. But hey, if a song slaps, it slaps, right? Who really cares anyway.

7. Cassette Tapes

Image Credit: TheJordanMiller

I still remember my mini-library of cassettes that my sister and I would jam out to with our first-ever cassette player. Of course, you always had to make sure you rewound the tape after so the next time you didn’t have to wait while listening to that high-pitched squealy noise impatiently.

8. Roll-Up The Window, Please

Image Credit: StephanieLentz

Much of Gen Z doesn’t understand the phrase “roll up/down the window”. I’ll they’ve ever known are ones with buttons that you press. Heck, now cars can even start remotely. Yup, definitely feeling old now.

9. Burning CDs

Image Credit: WhitneyArner

Millennials will remember when the transition from cassette to CD happened. Then, with the internet and things like Limewire, we were able to start making our own CDs with our favorite songs from a variety of artists. The act of doing this (transferring the music from your computer to a CD), was called “burning a CD”. From there, you could pop that baby into your WalkMan and take your tunes with you everywhere. Yes, I had some pretty awesome burned CDs, does that make me feel old? Yes, and that’s ok.

10. GameBoy

Image Credit: RoobMacchia

I never had a GameBoy myself, because I didn’t really have much use for one. I was certainly always jealous of my brother on long road trips, however, when his GameBoy (and then GameBoy Color) provided him with hours of endless entertainment. Gen Z won’t remember much about a time before cellphones, iPods, and the games you can play on them.

11. Baby’s First Dial Tone

Image Credit: JasonDCrane

Remember when we were kids and you picked up the home phone, there was always the sound of the dial tone before you started dialing the number? Yeah, well generation Z (and beyond) were either too young to remember this sound or have never actually heard it. Cell phones, after all, don’t have a dial tone. To be honest, this is even something I forgot about until this tweet reminded me of it. Maybe I’m not feeling old after all?

12. The Walkman

Image Credit: The Sweatpants Ninja

I remember when my oldest brother got his first walkman (or discman) and I was so jealous. These were portable CD players. He could now bring music with him everywhere in something you could easily hold in your hand or slide into a backpack. How cool was that? Gen Z grew up in the era of iPods (also a forgotten technology now) that you could easily slide in your pocket. They’ll never understand the struggle between looking cool with your walkman in your hand but also now only having one hand to do things with.

13. Feeling Old? Becaues Backstreet’s Not Back

Image Credit: Julia Whitee

Ah, the 90s – when boy bands ruled the charts. Every girl (and most of the boys, too) in my class knew the lyrics to nearly every single Backstreet Boys and N’Sync song. Gen Z will never know the joys that were their super 90’s music videos and watching them as much as possible on MTV to learn all the choreography.

14. Brenden Fraser

Image Credit: Trust No Pizza

As always goes with fame, it is fleeting. Many of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s biggest stars are now retired and living in relative peace and quiet while stars of the newer generations slide in to take their place. Brenden Fraser was one of the biggest stars of the late 90s, early 2000s. He’s best known for his lead role in the Mummy trilogy, George of the Jungle, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and more. A true 90s heartthrob!

15. Video Cassettes

“Coming soon to own on video and cassette” is part of the soundtrack to most millennial kid’s childhoods. Nearly all of the movies we watched as kids were on these bad boys. DVDs didn’t come in until quite a bit later. It was the unspoken rule in our house that if you watched a movie, you better well rewind the tape when you’re done. If you don’t, be prepared to face the wrath of the next person who tries to watch it and has to sit there for five minutes rewinding it before they can watch.

16. Hand-powered Pencil Sharpener

Image Credit: Gil_630

Every millennial kid remembers that awkward moment when you had to go up to the front of the classroom when everyone was working and sharpen your pencil using one of these. They were always impossibly loud. You just prayed silently that this wouldn’t be the day when your pencil lead wouldn’t keep breaking on you and sharpening would take forever. Eventually, you just slunk shamefully to the teacher’s desk to ask for a new one after four or five scowls from your annoyed classmates.

17. RIP Steve Irwin

Image Credit: LilViss_

Now this one really has me feeling old, and a little sad. Nearly every millennial kid will remember Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter. Irwin was a famous, beloved Australian Zookeeper known for his love of animals and lack of fear of almost, well, anything. Tragically, he died in 2006 in a freak accident with a normally quite docile stingray. The younger half of Gen Z only know Irwin as someone who was, not the larger than life character millennial kids knew him to be.

18. Nintendo Game Cartridges got me feeling old

Image Credit: DianaYe

Who remembers the old Nintendo games? I grew up playing MarioKart and NBA Live 95 on these with my siblings. Generation Z will never know how all you had to do when these weren’t working was blow the dust out of them and the consol and go about your merry way.

19. RugRats

Image Credit: _Beansie

One of the most popular shows in my house growing up was RugRats. We loved following the adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, and their baby friends. We also loved to hate their older cousin Angelica, who loved to terrorize her younger cousins. Gen Z and the younger generations will never know the joys of seeing the world from a baby’s point of view.

20. Blue’s Clues

Image Credit: Lakota

Keeping on the same vein as 90s TV shows gone by, Blue’s Clues is another favorite for many millennial kids that is completely unknown to the younger generation. They’ll never know the excitement of the Handy Dandy Notebook, Mail Time, or The Thinking Chair. A reboot of the series was launched in 2019, so maybe I’m not feeling too old right now.

21. Toxic

Image Credit: The Middle Child

Britney Spears was a staple artist for millennial kids – from her time in the Mickey Mouse Club up until, well, he hit single Toxic from 2009. I was far too young to be singing along to that song when it first came out, but now, the younger generations don’t even know what it means. How crazy is that?

22. Backwards Selfies

Image Credit: BeeBabs

That’s right – there was a time when the front-facing camera didn’t exist. Not only this but there was a time where cellphone cameras didn’t exist either. If you had a digital camera, you could look immediately afterward. If not, you had to wait until the camera was full and get the film actually developed before you could see any of the pictures, including selfies. Gen Z will never know the anticipation of waiting to see how many of your pictures actually turned out.

23. Nothing Was All-In-One

Image Credit: JakeItOrLeaveIt

Gen Z doesn’t remember much (if anything) of the days when your cellphone wasn’t, well, everything. Millennial teens needed to have their music player, camera, and phone – three separate items – with them. This is why big bags were popular in those days – you needed them!

24. No Free Streaming

Image Credit: Ham YoYo

In the 90s and early 2000s, YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify didn’t exist. Instead, we had MTV (or MuchMusic if you are Canadian) where you just hung out in front of the TV waiting for your favorite songs to come on. And people say millennials are impatient!

25. T9 Texting

Image Credit: Aubrey Strobel

Ah yes, T9 texting. When you had to tap each number a variety of times just to get the letter you wanted. At first, we were all quite slow at this, but after a couple of weeks, man could those fingers fly. It was a source of pride, really.

26. Phone Books

Image Credit: Reader’s Digest

I still remember every year for my birthday party having to look up all my friend’s phone numbers in the phone book and calling to see if they could come. It was always a gamble, because there were usually multiple of every last name. Unless you were 100% certain of their parent’s last names, then you could be calling the wrong number (or even leaving a message on the wrong number).

27. Payphones

Image Credit: Reader’s Digest

We had a payphone in my highschool front entrance. Before everyone had cellphones, they used them to call their parents to ask for a ride when they were done their after-school extracurriculars. By the time Gen Z was in high school, not only did everyone have a cellphone, but everyone had a smartphone with internet.

28. Encyclopedias

Image Credit: Reader’s Digest

Every classroom and library in my elementary school was outfitted with encyclopedias. When we needed information on something, we didn’t look it up on the internet, we opened one of these. I’d wager a bet that there are many Gen Zers who’ve never even heard the word encyclopedia, let alone opened one.

29. Pagers

If this one doesn’t get you feeling old, I’m not sure what will. Do you remember pagers? Because I barely do. This comes from a time where cell phones weren’t quite available to everyone, but if you had to be reached, you could be paged (this was essentially like being texted a phone number to call back). From there you could find the nearest payphone to reach back out. Mind you, some professionals like doctors still use them, but they’re definitely on their last legs.

30 These Glue Bottles

old glue bottles

If you remember these, we hate to say it, but you might be getting old. Glue bottles like this, along with those manual pencil sharpeners that would eat your entire pencil before they were sharpened enough to use, were the worst. The tips would be so covered in dried glue that they’d barely work. Oh, the memories.

What do you think, Millennials? Feeling old yet? Is there anything missing on this list that was a huge part of your childhood that Gen Z just wouldn’t understand?

This article originally appeared on Tiffy Taffy and has been refurbished here with permission.

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