There are many awesome things that used to be commonplace back in the day that younger people in 2023 don't get to experience.
1. "Child-safe websites to hang out on the internet. Now everything is catered for an audience just to buy things (like the Barbie website doesn't have cute games anymore but just info on where to buy products). Plus, it was just so accessible for everyone to just use their web browser to join a game like Club Penguin or Neopets, etc. Now, you have to install space-eating apps that need updating constantly. Sure, there are apps like Roblox, but it's not the same vibe as the old school websites!"
2. "Knocking on the doors of friends' houses, and when their parents answer the door, having to awkwardly ask, 'Is X coming out to play?' I remember one time I had to knock on five different houses before someone decided to hang out, and you’d definitely start with your best mate before heading sequentially down the list of your friends, like a pre-Myspace Top 8. Now, you just write a text in the group WhatsApp, and boom — you know who’s available or not."
3. "Not having a screen to entertain you. I remember going with my aunt to the hairdressers around about 1999, and while she was getting her hair done, I was bored to tears — except I wasn't, because I had a paperback copy of My Girl (with the movie poster on the front cover). I lost myself in it — and I'm glad I spent those times reading a book instead of doomscrolling."
6. "Friends and family taking pictures with you and not wondering if they’ll end up online. Being able to truly disconnect for a while and not having people freak out when you don’t respond right away, because smartphones were not commonplace."
7. "Having to do research for school reports using an Encyclopedia Britannica set."
8. "Toys 'R' Us! Walking into a store as a kid was like walking into heaven. Roller skating rinks like Sparkles — Friday night was 'Teen Night' at Sparkles, and everyone was there skating and playing arcade games. Being able to walk to stores in the suburbs by cutting through people’s yards without getting yelled at or being blocked by fences. Playing flashlight tag — I never see kids playing outside at night anymore."
9. "Arcades. Much more fun than sitting in your room alone, playing online, and interacting through a headset."
—Anonymous, 38, LA
11. "Oh, honestly, Blockbusters were the best. It was one of those things that, once it had gone forever, you really didn’t realize what you were missing. You took it for granted. The thing is, now you’re there flicking through every streaming site you pay for, arguing over what to watch. Back then, you had to pay to pick one just by its video cover and mini synopsis. You couldn’t get home and then decide, 'Oh, actually, let’s go for something else.' You were stuck, and you didn’t want to waste that previous couple of quid. There’s no way you could carry on for three or four days, due to getting a late fine! So, falling asleep was a no-go. I even loved the smell of the Blockbusters near me — the carpet and the popcorn. #bringbackblockbusterstotheuk"
12. "They are missing out on not being plugged in all the time. It was amazing in high school that you could only reach me via my household phone or if I was on AIM choosing to talk to people. But with cellphones, there is no barrier; there is no down time where you’re not tuned into everything going on around you. I worry that without this natural barrier for teens especially, they miss out on parts of development."
—Anonymous, 40, Vermont
13. "Waiting in line for concert tickets. Some of my best teenage memories are from these times. Ticketmaster was evil back then, too, but the robo-buying/system crashing wasn't a thing. You woke up early or stayed up all night to make sure you were in line with your friends. And, of course, you had McDonald's breakfast for the wait."
—Anonymous, 47, Colorado
14. "Leaving the house in the morning and not coming home until dinner, sit-down Pizza Hut restaurants after high school football games, having to ask a parent if your friend can come to the phone, memorizing phone numbers, pen pals you had to wait for an actual letter from, skating rink on Friday nights and Saturdays at the mall, fluoride rinses at school, Block Parent signs in windows...and so much more!"
15. "Just getting on your bicycle and riding. Playing outside and being mad when Mom made you come in the house."
16. "Using paper bags as textbook covers."
—Alli, 42, the Deep South
17. "Going to the drugstore to buy baseball cards, sniffing — then tossing — the stale bubble gum, going to the playground, and only going home when you felt tired or hungry enough. ... These were my summers when I was a kid. No phones, little communication with the parents — just freedom. :) Now, CPS would be called. I’m so glad I got to experience these self-directed summers while we still could."
18. "Flipping channels and finding obscure, old, or weird TV shows and movies. The reason I’ve seen so many movies and shows from before my time is because I would flip channels during commercial breaks, land on the only channel not on commercial and just watch whatever was on."
—Keylee, 43, Los Angeles
19. "Being excited when you got mail. No, not the AOL email — snail mail. Now, it's all junk, but you used to get letters, or presents from the grandparents. And as a kid, the bills weren't for you."
20. "Looking at the Sears Wish Book during the holidays and circling what you hoped, hoped, HOPED would be under the tree on Christmas morning."
—Brooke, 41, New Mexico
22. "Sewing. I learned when I was 8 years old. I was always one of the best-dressed kids in school. I also made many of my work outfits after high school. It's fun to be unique!"
—Anonymous, 66, Texas
23. "Elementary school in the 2000s. I get emotional thinking about it sometimes, and that’s why I want to teach elementary. TAKE ME BACK."
24. "Civility on airplanes. People dressed up, were actually fed (and somewhat decently at that), had reasonable leg room, and there was no need to fight about overhead space, leaning back, and the like."
—Anonymous, 63, SF Bay Area
25. "The USA Network's USA Cartoon Express. A dedicated block of just animated shows was something different at the time. Plus, it had a good variety of content for all."
26. "The card catalog. There was something super satisfying about finding the call number of a book and then exploring long rows of library shelves until you matched the numbers — like a treasure hunt."
27. "All sodas in glass bottles — they taste so much better."
—Anonymous, 53, Dallas
28. "Answering the phone — a landline phone. I was thinking the other day that my kids don't know how to have a conversation on the phone. They don't know how to greet someone, have a small conversation with Grandma or their aunt before handing off the phone to me or their dad, or take a message."
—Anonymous, 39, Los Angeles
30. "The OG Build-A-Bear. You used to be able to bathe it, do a little wishing heart ceremony, and more. A few months ago, I gave my niece a Build-A-Bear gift card, and my sister said the only thing they really did anymore was let you stuff the bear."
31. "Saturday morning cartoons. ... Forget sleeping in. I used to love getting up early, plopping myself in my PJs in front of the giant console TV, and watching literally four to five hours of classic cartoons, from Scooby-Doo to Super Friends, to live-action, Muppet-based H.R. Pufnstuf, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters."
—Michael the W, 57, South Dakota
32. "Anonymity. If you were a teenager and did something stupid, as we all manage to do in one form or another in those horribly awkward years, it would eventually fade into nothing more than a cringeworthy memory. Not so, now. Everyone has a camera in their pocket, and the internet is forever. I feel so sorry for this generation."
—Anonymous, 38, USA
33. "Local radio stations with very little formatting or genre preferences. Growing up, it was common to hear different artist/groups on a radio station. I think that's why I have an eclectic taste in music. Though I am an old school headbanger, I still remember hearing amazing artists like Whitney Houston for the first time and being completely awestruck by her voice."
What obsolete things are newer generations totally missing out on? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.