Stef Sampa
3 min readJul 21, 2023

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Photo by Mike Flamenco on Unsplash

Was the 90’s the Best Decade of Humanity So Far? Let’s Rewind…

This time, I thought I’d take us a trip down memory lane. So, pop in that imaginary cassette tape and get ready to rewind. Ah, the ’90s. The decade of grunge, boy bands, Furbies, and dial-up internet. Was it the best decade of humanity so far? Well, let’s have a chinwag and see if we can decide.

1. Those Groovy Tunes

Let’s kick things off on a high note — literally. The ’90s were a golden era for music. From Nirvana redefining rock with their grunge sound, the hip hop brilliance of Tupac and Biggie, to the pop sensation of Britney Spears and boybands like Backstreet Boys. “It was like the music world exploded with diversity,” says former MTV VJ, Matt Pinfield.

2. The Tech Takeoff

The ’90s saw some serious tech evolution. The World Wide Web was born (can you even imagine life without it now?), we saw the birth of DVDs, and mobile phones shrunk from bricks to pocketsize. It was a simpler time when social media was an AOL chatroom, and “You’ve got mail” was a phrase that sparked joy, not dread. Tech expert and Wired contributor, Clive Thompson, says, “The ’90s set the foundation for the technological renaissance that we live in today.”

3. Fin-tastic Economy

Financially speaking, the ’90s were a time of prosperity. The US, in particular, experienced one of its longest periods of economic expansion. There was a drop in inflation and unemployment, and the stock market boomed. It was a time when the dream of home ownership seemed achievable for many. Economist Julia Coronado stated, “The 90’s economy was the perfect sweet spot of growth without inflation.”

4. Societal Strides

Society also evolved in many ways in the ’90s. We saw significant strides towards equality with movements like third-wave feminism gaining momentum. We saw the inception of the Disability Discrimination Act, reinforcing inclusivity. Bill Clinton famously quoted, “The ’90s is not an era of complacency; it’s an era of transformation.”

5. Glorious Pop Culture

The ’90s gave us cultural icons. From “Friends” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” on TV, the cinematic brilliance of “Titanic” and “Jurassic Park,” to the fantasy world of Harry Potter. Plus, who could forget the fashion? Denim on denim, chokers, and let’s not forget the glory of frosted tips.

6. The Family Factor

The ’90s also gave us a peculiar mix of traditional and modern family life. We were on the brink of a digital explosion but still rooted in conventional societal norms. Lisa, a mother of two, reminiscences, “The ’90s was a wonderful time to raise kids. We had technology, but it hadn’t taken over yet. Family dinners, board game nights, and playing outside until dusk were the norm.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The ’90s had its share of struggles and heartbreak. We grappled with the Gulf War, the Rodney King verdict sparked a wave of civil unrest, and the AIDS epidemic reached its height.

Was the ’90s the best decade of humanity? That’s subjective. Every decade has its highs and lows, victories, and defeats. It’s a tricky balance of nostalgia and recognizing the progress we’ve made since. Maybe the 90’s was the best for you because it’s when you fell in love for the first time, started your family, or when your favorite song was a hit.

In the grand words of Semisonic, a hit band of the ’90s, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Each decade has given us something to cherish, something to learn from, and something to propel us into the next.

In the end, the “best” decade is a collage of personal experiences, global events, and a dash of that rosy retrospection we all indulge in now and then.

So, as we sign off and flip the cassette tape back to the present, I leave you with the immortal words of Whitney Houston, “No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.” The ’90s, like every decade, brought its challenges. But, just as Whitney sang, it’s how we carry ourselves through the trials that truly define the era.

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