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Updated on Aug 3, 2020. Posted on Aug 2, 2020

30 Extremely Specific Things Every Late-'90s Teen Did One Last Time Without Realizing It

Think about it, when was the exact last time you paged a friend?

1. Buy blank VHS tapes:

A photo of two six hour Sony blank VHS tapes

2. Record something off the TV using a VHS tape:

A stock image of a VCR with two VHS tapes on the top of it.
Ilya_starikov / Getty Images

3. Take mall photos with your friends and then trade the (wallet-size) pictures with other friends:

Mr. Yates SAYS there’s a story behind this very 90s pic. I prefer to think him and his friend were walking through the mall in their SICK Quicksilver clothes and thought: IMPROMPTU JC PENNEY PORTRAIT STUDIO PHOTO SHOOT TIME!

4. Write down everyone's phone number, address, and email address in a day planner (as well as carry around the wallet-size photos of your friends in it):

A photo two black and blue day planners.

5. Page your friends and get a page:

A photo of two Motorola pagers, one in baby blue and one in sea green.
James Keyser / The LIFE Images Collection via G

6. And wear your pager around like this (so everybody knew you had one):

A close up of a teenage girl wearing her pager clipped to the lefthand side pocket of her jeans.
Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

7. Go in person to a Ticketmaster or box office to buy concert tickets and get a printed physical ticket back:

A close-up of a paper ticket.
Michael Crabtree - Pa Images / Getty Images

8. Look up a phone number in the yellow or white pages:

A stock photo of a someone circling a number in the phone book with a black marker.
Stevelenzphoto / Getty Images

9. Join a random chat room and pretend to be someone else just to fit in:

A screengrab of the AOL Chat Room Listings page.

10. Call your BFF and know you had an at least 90% chance that their parents or sibling(s) would pick up the phone:

A screengrab of Monica from the "Boy Is Mine" music video talking on a portable phone.

11. Use a payphone:

A stock photo of beat up pay phone.
Terrykelly / Getty Images

12. Think of the people in The Real World as older and cool:

The Real World logo in black and white.

13. Order CDs from Columbia House (that you never paid for):

A order form for CDs for Columbia House.

14. Order a bunch of magazines from Publishers Clearing House (that you never paid for):

Stickers with magazine names on it that were used to order magazines from Publishers Clearing House.

15. Receive a teen magazine you loved in the mail:

A cropped photo of Kirsten Dunst holding up a Teen People with Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover.
Steve Granitz / WireImage

16. Install an AOL CD so you could have free internet time:

A close up of purple AOL CD-Roms.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

17. Watch a viral video on a VHS tape:

A fuzzy image of the South Park "The Spirit of Christmas" viral video.
3monkeysandafootball /

18. Look at porn in a magazine or watch it on a VHS tape:

A screengrab of Jason Biggs in American Pie holding a porn magazine.
Universal Pictures

19. Or try to watch porn on the scrambled pay-per-view or adult channel:

A scrambled TV image of a women's head.

20. Receive a gift certificate* to a store you wanted for your birthday:

A $15 gift certificate to Tower Records.
Twitter: @jasonritter

*For those who might be too young to know, gift certificates were the precursor to gift cards — but, unlike gift cards, there was no way to trace them if you lost them and they couldn't keep a balance. So if you didn't spend the entire thing, the store would usually just give you the remaining balance back in cash.

21. Listen to an album on a portable CD player:

A photo of a grey portable CD player.

22. Buy an entire album for just one song:

The album cover to "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too" by the New Radicals, which features a yellow star burst background and the lead singer Gregg Alexander sitting with a bucket covering his eyes and the bottom of his shoes facing closet to the camera.

23. Buy a pricey imported CD single from artists you really liked just for the B-sides or remixes:

An overview photo of a Tower Records in the '90s.
South China Morning Post / South China Morning Post via Get

24. Read magazines in the magazine section of Tower Records or Virgin Megastore:

A fish-eyed lensed black and white photo of the magazine section at Tower Records in 1998.
The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Im

25. Pick up a local alt-weekly to see what concerts were happening or look up movie times:

A blurry cropped photo of two LA Weeklys on a desk.
Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

26. Carry around your various discount and reward cards with you at all times:

A close of a Coca-Cola Rewards card and the cardboard envelope for it.

27. Order clothes from a catalog:

28. Take photos with a disposable camera:

A photo of a Kodak disposable camera.
Science & Society Picture Librar / Getty Images

29. Have a skincare routine that involved these astringents:

A screengrab of a Stridex box on an animated a computer screen and a photo of a bottle of Sea Breeze.
Chris Hattings/

30. And, finally, use dial-up:


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