16 Awful Things From the 80s and 90s That We’ve Conveniently Forgotten

Have you had one of those moments, the ones where you want to show or tell a younger person something from your childhood only to realize that there are pieces of it that are just not suitable for modern sensibilities at ALL?


Well, most Millennials and GenXers I know definitely have, and from those experiences come these 80s and 90s experiences that have not aged well.

16. Smoking hospital?!?

I was a nurses’ assistant in the 80s. My main duties were to answer the call buttons from the patients in labor/delivery.

We actually had ashtrays and hospital-stamped matchbooks to hand out upon request. The new moms could smoke in the freaking hospital rooms… and it was “normal.”

Haven’t thought about this in a while. Thanks for the walk down my second-hand smoke-filled memory lane!

15. History classes are sorely lacking.

The Second Congo War started around 1998 and killed around 5 million people. Most in the west have never heard of it.

I remember seeing an ad for Nightline in a Youtube video of an ABC broadcast from 2001, where they were introducing this as the top story for that night’s episode.

“The War in The Congo. Three years, 2.5 million dead. *It’s a story we should have brought you long ago.*”

Then the broadcast immediately cut to breaking news of the WTC, in flames, after the first plane hit on 9/11.

Talk about some horrible timing.

14. Nothing new under the sun.

The crack epidemic.

I mean today we have a fentanyl crisis so


13. Not like Purple Rain.


I thought it would be a bigger deal than it is today, but that’s because the types of air pollution that caused acid rain were successfully reduced to the point where they were no longer a threat thanks to laws passed in the US and elsewhere.

12. There was no ADA.

For those who are disabled before the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed if you “disabled” especially if you were in a wheelchair, there were very few friendly ramps, elevators, etc for those types of people.

Those activists were climbing stars on their hands and knees as a sign of protests. It also showed especially for children there were very few accommodations again before the ADA was passed. Having dyslexia was either you being slow and you being teased by kids.

Even worse is if you were autistic and the diagnosis wasn’t as streamlined as it is today where you can catch at a year or 16 months old and you can do various types of therapies.

Younger people really really don’t know how the ADA transformed American especially in the educational system. Edit: this little documentary shows how the ADA really change the infrastructure in the United States.

11. The horrors around the world.

The Issaq Genocide.

A genocide in northern Somalia that occurred between 1987 and 1989 that killed 100,000- 200,000 people.

My mom was a young adult when it happened. She saw all her friends and cousins die, military in huge tanks murdering anybody in sight. She and a few close survivors were chased into a jungle, where they barely survived. Even more died there; from deadly incurable disease to being split apart by a lion.

Nowadays she works 9-5 and returns to her home to watch her favorite show with her kids. I only learned a few years back what she went through, and the childhood she worked hard to provide for us. Never judge a book.

10. No one was nice about it, either.

Getting kicked off the computer because someone needed to use the phone.

It sound like at least someone asked. In my house, people would just pick up the phone and start dialing.

9. There are movies about it.

All the atrocities committed in the civil wars of Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

And that Burundi was also implicated in what we call the Rwanda genocide, I don’t know why it’s not just called the Tutsi genocide.

8. It smelled so good, though.

Herbal Essences commercials. I swear there was one where at the end she had bits of conditioner all over her face.

They leaned into the s*x sells angle hard. The over the top orgasm sounds, for shampoo!

I remember one with expert Dr. Ruth at the end where she says, “Try the body wash!”

7. If you weren’t about that life.

Haven’t seen anyone comment this yet, but the 90s gang epidemic was pretty bad. It was a huge reason why my family moved out of L.A. and across the country, the crime was so out of control, even people that weren’t about that life were getting killed.

This is what made my family move out of San Jose. Gangs would sometimes target the wrong house, and it felt like only a matter of time until it was our house.

6. That shouldn’t have been normal.

Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009). Some of the worst atrocities I’ve read about, basically human genocide at least 100k dead, millions displaced.

I’m Sri Lankan. I’ve lived outside Sri Lanka most of my life. I have visited Sri Lanka every year or so between years 2000 – 2009.

I was quite young and just barely knew that a war was going on. Didn’t see anything severe.

Recently though, I heard my aunts would see dead bodies on the way to school and that was quite normal. This was before the 2000s, I guess.

Puts a whole other perspective when they say they used to walk for miles to get to school.

5. Important yet tragic.

I was almost 7 when the ethnic cleansing and civil war happened in Bosnia. I am half Slovenian on my mother’s side, and she was devastated at what was going on.

I feel sad that lots of people don’t seem to know what all went on. It was such an important yet tragic happening.

I spent a day at the war crimes tribunal and the testimony was shocking. People had terrible things done to them and when asked how they could be sure who did it, they said “it was my neighbor and we used to be friends”.

4. An epic tragedy.

The way people with AIDS were treated. I lived in a very small town in Central Florida in 1992. My SO at the time had a best friend who also lived in town. This friend’s mother died of AIDS complications, got HIV through a blood transfusion during surgery. She died two years or so before I moved there, I never met her. But I was sworn to secrecy that absolutely no one could know how she died. Her own son refused to see her on her deathbed.

Another friend counseled people with AIDS in a larger city. One of her clients lived in a trailer with a rotting roof and floor. He kept his cereal in the fridge because the trailer was crawling with roaches. His family kicked him out because he had AIDS and they never saw him again.

That’s how strong the stigma was against people with AIDS.

3. People still don’t say this enough.

Being taught about stranger danger but not how you’re more likely to be abused by someone you know.

I was given an ESL lesson to teach a few years ago that was about stranger danger. It specifically said something like “but you can always trust your teachers, family, and family friends” and I was like no!!!!

Those are exactly the people who would probably be most likely to molest you

2. Dangerous toys for days.

Skip It toys.

Back before the internet, all we had for fun was a cannonball shackled to our ankle whose only purpose was to shatter your shinbones

1. Gotta make it to the bank.

Having to get money out the bank for your weekend.

ATMs and card payments at tills have made life so much easier.

Yeah, we really have just kind of glossed over this stuff in our memories, right?

What are we missing? Tell us in the comments!