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14 Things from the 80s That Are Foreign to Younger Generations

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For those who grew up in the 1980s, it was a time of unparalleled nostalgia. From the iconic Madonna and the transformative Transformers to the vibrant and bold colors and the joy of recording mix tapes from the radio’s playlist- the 1980s were a real blast.

While the 1980s were undeniably awesome, they also introduced many elements in fashion, technology, economy, and culture that, in hindsight, may make today’s generation wonder what they were thinking.

Let’s delve into these intriguing relics of the past and explore the weird parts of the 80s.

1. Concrete Jungle Playgrounds  

Old car tires can be used as flower beds, fences, and not only
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The playgrounds of the 80s seemed to be made solely to harden children, with concrete on the ground and slides that appeared to start from the moon. Many paranoid Moms today would probably never take their children to the park if there weren’t padded swings and carpet grass.

2. Dangerous Toys

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Would you get your kids a radioactive toy? The Atomic Energy Lab was a popular toy in the 1980s, and parents bought it and lived to tell the story. Four samples of uranium-containing ores—autunite, torbernite, uraninite, and carnotite—were included in the package.

Today, there’s more safety in the toys we’re allowing our kids to play with, but toys in the 1980s didn’t always have safety at the forefront.

3. Reaganomics

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The 80s saw a huge gap between the rich and the poor, largely due to Reaganomics. The administration’s economic policies heavily emphasized deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, and trickle-down economics. While these measures were attributed to fostering economic expansion and prosperity, they worsened wealth distribution and income inequality.

4. Less Reachability

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Today, everyone is available; at the press of the green call button, we know our children’s whereabouts at any given moment. We can put a tracker on our kids’ phones and share Uber trips with them to know when they get to their destination.

In the 80s (and generations before), there was little way of knowing where anyone was once they left your house. You knew they were missing if they didn’t come home.

5. Living in Fear of War

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We may never know how it feels to live with the fear of a possible nuclear war, but people in the 1980s had to live with Cold War tensions. During the height of the Cold War, concerns about nuclear bombs existed, and apocalyptic scenarios were prevalent in popular culture. It’s unnerving to revisit these scenes.

6. Greed is Good?

Poor young man counting money sitting alone city stairs, low living standard
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It’s good to dream big and want more, but the 80s had a mantra we wouldn’t probably agree with—greed is good. The phrase symbolized a culture that celebrated individual wealth accumulation and self-interest. It reflects the era’s economic policies and values. Some criticized it for promoting excess and moral ambiguity in pursuit of financial success.

7. Big Hair

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People in the 80s took aiming high very seriously and had their hair as proof. The 80’s hairstyles comprised voluminous hairs and excessive use of hairspray. All the beehives on hair would seem over-the-top and cringe-worthy today.

8. Car Designs

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Today’s cars are slimmer, sleeker, and multi-functional. Compared to sleek current designs, several 1980s cars are notorious for their boxy shapes, faux wood paneling, and bright color schemes that might make us cringe or smile with nostalgia.

9. Shoulder Pads

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We may look at shoulder pads today the same way we look at spoiled milk, but they were once the power dressing staple. Shoulder pads in clothing today would make anyone look comically oversized. Good luck convincing your tailor today to give your clothes shoulder pads.

10. Mixtapes

A Tape in Boy's Hand, Audio Recorder using Tape the Old Fashioned Way
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Today’s generation of live streaming and downloading songs wouldn’t know the troubles people in the 1980s went to just to get a few songs on a cassette tape. Even though it was once a romantic gesture, making mixtapes with cassette tapes appears archaic and out of style in the era of digital playlists.

11. Smoking Indoors

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All research now says smoking is bad for you, and second-hand smoking is just as bad. People would frequently smoke indoors at restaurants, businesses, and even on airplanes throughout the 1980s. The concept of smoking indoors feels awkward and outdated these days.

12. Over-the-Top Makeup

Young platinum blond woman with 80s makeup
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If you think people are bold with make-up today, you should have seen the make-up enthusiasts of the 80s. That was the hallmark of using bright eyeshadows, heavy blush, and bold lip colors. Today that would be used as a costume.

13. Cabbage Patch Kids

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We could say we haven’t witnessed shoppers fighting for a commodity, but the 2020 tissue paper wars prove us wrong. We had tissue paper wars; the 80s had the Cabbage Patch Kids. In the 1980s, this particular brand of dolls—with original names and adoption certificates—became an obsession, sparking crazy shopping sprees and even the occasional act of violence among consumers.

14. Brick-Sized Cell Phones

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The phones of the 1980s were larger than life (if you happened to have one). The large, brick-sized cell phones of the 1980s are now seen as relics from a past era in telecommunications.


17 Insane Things That Were Acceptable for Children in the 1960s

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Many of the behaviors that were deemed ordinary for children in the 1960s would be mortifying to people today. If parents from the ’60s were to raise their children in the same manner in today’s world, they might find social services knocking on their doors. As time progresses, so do parenting methods and the level of supervision and exposure provided to children.

17 Insane Things That Were Acceptable for Children in the 1960s

20 Things All 60s Kids Will Fondly Remember

An Image of Beatles Band Members
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We have come a long way from historical gems like Vinyl records and sidecars. The ’60s certainly left a lingering aroma in the minds of anyone who grew up in that era.  

20 Things All 60s Kids Will Fondly Remember

17 Insane Things That Happened at Woodstock

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Two things happened in 1969: The Moon landing and the Woodstock Festival. The famous Woodstock Music and Art Fair was the highlight of the 60s and a great testament to a people’s desire for fun, peace, and a little rebellion.

17 Insane Things That Happened at Woodstock


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