So as a Gen Xer I look back on my life and think when was the best time of my life? I am having a good time now don’t get me wrong but growing up in the 80’s was a lot of fun. Gen Xer’s are a bridge generation, we are old enough to remember the 70’s and how things were but came of age in college in the 90’s when the tech boom was just taking off. I mean if you had asked me in 1985 if one day I would be walking around with a computer (smart phone) in my pocket that gave me access to nearly everything, all the time, all over the world I would have called you nuts.
Here are 5 things that happened in the 80’s that helped shape who Gen Xers are and what some of us think about when we look back…
The Challenger Explosion – Like 9/11, everyone who was alive in the ’80s knows exactly where they were on January 28, 1986. It was on this day that the 10th flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which carried five NASA astronauts and a civilian schoolteacher, exploded just 73 seconds into its flight, killing everybody on board.
The Chernobyl Disaster – As if people in the ’80s didn’t feel anxious enough about the threat of nuclear war, the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 made everyone all the more acutely aware of how vulnerable they really were. On April 26, 1986, at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, a reactor explosion caused a lethal amount of radiation to be released into the atmosphere.
The Miracle on the Ice – It was one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history and a reason to feel pride in American athletes. The XIII Olympic Winter Games of 1980 took place in Lake Placid, New York, but the odds were stacked against the U.S. hockey team. With a team made up of college kids, nobody expected the U.S. to stand a chance against the Soviets, who had a powerhouse team of experienced athletes. However, on February 22, 1980, the scrappy Americans beat the Soviets in a stunning upset.
The Berlin Wall Coming Down – Reagan first issued the challenge during a speech in Berlin in 1987, infamously asking the Soviet leader to “tear down this wall.” Nobody really believed it would happen, but just two and a half years later, the wall that had divided East and West Germany for almost three decades and had become a symbol of the Cold War finally came down. Thinking about that day—November 9, 1989—still gives us chills.
Lady Diana Becoming Princess Diana – The wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana in the summer of 1981 was more than just the spectacle of wealthy monarchs getting hitched. At the time, some 750 million people across the globe watched what was widely described as a fairytale wedding, one that influenced nuptials for years to come. Even the biggest cynics couldn’t help but get butterflies in their stomach after watching those royal lovebirds finally say “I do.”
These were some of the events that happened in the 80’s that many of your Gen X friends were influenced by. Most of these were huge cultural events that changed how people perceived the world at large. Yes, more happened during the 80’s, these aren’t necessarily the most impactful events either. Everyone experienced life differently, but the 80’s are when we started to really get into “globalism” things all over the world affected us.
I was 10 in 1980, 19 in 1989. I grew a lot in that decade I had a lot of firsts. I look back at it now and sometimes I wonder where all the time went….
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