Those of us who were born in America in the 1980s were able to make it through our most formative years without having to weather any truly big wars or depressions or other totally horrible universal disasters. On the whole, that is a good thing.
This dearth of tragedy and strife has, however, had an interesting impact on our generation: faulting a legitimate cause upon which to focus our human need to feel passionate about something, we instead became abnormally emotionally invested in our television programs. The graphic below details this phenomenon.
The result is that the current group of American 20-somethings is still very, very attached to our memories of Nickelodeon and T.G.I.F. We were young and impressionable and our brains were like sponges--something had to become seared into our memory. Absent our own Great Depression or World War Two, we defaulted to being permanently traumatized by Zack breaking up with Kelly.
Our generational case of early-onset nostalgia is not just limited to former television shows, though--clothing, toys, games, books, movies and music from the '80s and '90s all fall within the scope of the obsession that I predict future anthropologists will refer to as the "I Love The" Effect. This nomenclature is of course derived from the group of VH1 miniseries that epitomizes premature sentimentalization of our age group. (Miniseries, by the way, that I enjoy watching more than just about anything else.)
Indeed, the "I Love The" Effect has not escaped even my own blog: my site traffic has seen significant spikes in referral links from search engines the three times that "Guts," "Salute Your Shorts," and "Jodie Sweetin" were incidentally mentioned in posts. Meaning, there are a lot of people out there searching the Internet for those things.
Now, I'm not saying it's a bad thing that our generation doesn't have painful memories of recycling our bikes for scrap metal. I'm just wondering what this is going to do to us as old people. What will we possibly drone on to our grandchildren about, seeing as how we never walked uphill to school with potatoes in our hands, potatoes that we had pulled from the Victory Garden in our backyard?
Get ready. We are going be the lamest old people ever.