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Gen Z Will Never Understand These Things About Boomers

(Photo Credit: Stu pendousmat/ Wikimedia Commons under public domain via CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo Credit: Stu pendousmat/ Wikimedia Commons under public domain via CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gen Zs typically think they know everything about the world, but there are many things that they will never be able to understand about the earlier generations and why boomers are the way they are. Here, we take a look at societal customs boomers experienced that no longer apply to our society today.

Movie theaters didn’t have websites

Planet of the Apes playing at a drive in
“Battle for the Planet of the Apes” plays at a drive-in theater, July 1973. (Photo Credit: Newsday LLC/ Getty Images)

Before the internet was a staple, those of the earlier generation who wanted to see a movie would have to call their local movie theater just to hear a recording with the movie times on it. If you didn’t want to make a phone call, you could also look up the movie times in your local newspaper.

Doing research for school reports was way harder

(Photo Credit: Clay Banks/ Unsplash)

Writing school reports is already a pain, but imagine not having the help of the internet to aid in your research. This was the reality for boomers – when they were assigned a research report, they would have to physically go to the library to take out books on the subjects they were writing about. We can only imagine how frustrating it must have been when someone else in their class had already grabbed the few books on their topic they were trying to check out!

People were always smoking

A nurse carrying a tray loaded with ashtrays
A smiling nurse collecting ashtrays for use in the mens’ wards, circa 1939. (Photo Credit: Maeers/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

We live in a world where we know how dangerous smoking is to our health. However, those of earlier generations didn’t learn about these negative health impacts until later. If you have ever seen the series Mad Men, you might remember smoking being literally everywhere. Believe it or not, this wasn’t exaggerated for the purpose of the show. People used to smoke in theatres, offices, restaurants, trains, schools, planes, and even hospitals! In fact, when smoking was finally banned in public spaces, there was widespread outrage over the decision.

Video rental stores were super exciting

Blockbuster location in Moncton
Blockbuster location in Moncton. (Photo Credit: Stu pendousmat/ Wikimedia Commons under public domain via CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the days before Netflix, HBO, Disney +, and Amazon Prime Television, people had to actually go out and physically rent the movies they wanted to watch. Although this sounds like an annoying practice, people of the older generations were excited to go to a video rental store and pick out a movie to watch. In fact, picking out a movie was often just as fun as actually watching the movie.

Speaking of movie rentals…

Blockbuster VHS tape
A Spice Girls video cassette from Blockbuster. (Photo Credit: Amtrak Guy 124/ Wikimedia Commons via public domain under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Although renting movies from video rental places was typically a great weekend experience, you had to make sure you rewound the tape fully before returning it to the rental store, or you would receive a fee. Obviously, this practice is much different now because after our movies are done, our streaming service automatically recommends more options for us!

Radio reigned supreme

cat wearing headphones listening to the radio
January 1926: A cat wearing headphones to listen to a radio. (Photo Credit: Monty Fresco/ Stringer /Getty Images)

In a time before Apple Music and Spotify, before iPods, and even before Walkmans, the radio was the primary way people consumed music. Oftentimes people would call into their local radio stations to request a song so they could then record the track, or simply just wait for their song to be replayed. If you could afford it, you could also buy an entire album to get this one song you liked, but downloading was not an option like it is today!

No such thing as GPS

Maps and cars
(Photo Credit: Conner Bowe/ unsplash)

At one time, people had to figure out where they were going without any sort of GPS navigation. This meant no rerouting if a wrong turn was taken or if there were construction delays. This meant not being aware of accidents or roadblocks. People relied on maps to get to their final destination, which truthfully would really stress us out.

People must have had great memories

Standard telephone
Standard telephone, circa 1964. (Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

In a time before cellphones, people just memorized phone numbers. Now we’re not awesome with math and numbers in general, so it amazes us that people could memorize a string of numbers and know which friend it belonged to. We definitely would have gotten a phone book if we lived in an older generation.

No cell phones meant ultimate trust

businessman talking on an old cell phone
A young businessman talks on a giant old cell phone (Photo Credit: Ron Watts/ Getty Images)

People didn’t have cell phones so when you made plans you had to stick to them. Once you left your house, you had no way to communicate with any of the friends you were meeting – you just had to trust that they would show up at the agreed-upon spot. You couldn’t ask them where they were or how far away they were, but if you were really desperate and you remembered their home phone number, you could always call their house on a payphone and ask their parents what their ETA is. The bottom line is that people couldn’t always get ahold of you, which is sometimes a good thing.

Sure, take pictures, but you won’t see them for months

Disposable camera
Disposable camera, circa 1999. (Photo Credit: Science & Society Picture Library/ Getty Images)

Surprisingly, this is a trend that seems to be coming back in style with Gen Zs. However, Zs will always have their cellphones to take pictures on, whereas boomers only had cameras that slightly resembled bricks. After you would take your pictures, you would have to take little rolls of film to a special shop to be processed. You would have no idea if any of the photos you had taken were good until a couple of months later. Don’t forget to manually wind the camera back up after every photo taken!

Limited options at school

home economics class
A young girl taking a home economics class, 1971. (Photo Credit: Denver Post/ Getty Images)

More from us: In Photos: Throwback To The Totally Tubular And Generation Defining 1980s

It’s easy to forget that there were limited options in school classes available for the older generations. For example, girls were required to take home economics while boys got to take [wood] shop class.

Madeline Hiltz

Maddy Hiltz is someone who loves all things history. She received her Bachelors of Arts in history and her Master’s of Arts degree in history both from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Her thesis examined menstrual education in Victorian England. She is passionate about Princess Diana, the Titanic, the Romanovs, and Egypt amongst other things.

In her spare time, Maddy loves playing volleyball, running, walking, and biking, although when she wants to be lazy she loves to read a good thriller. She loves spending quality time with her friends, family, and puppy Luna!