Mary Anna Thomas

21 Experiences Boomers Lived Through That Gen Z Is Clueless About

Baby Boomers have lived through a lot in their lifetime, from traumatic events such as 9/11 to contending with the stress of dial-up internet. While Boomers reflect on their memories fondly, Gen Z has no idea what they are talking about. We take a look at 21 Boomer experiences that younger generations have no clue about.


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Gen Z will never understand the power of the iconic portable cassette player that was on everyone’s Santa list in the 1980s. Nostalgic Boomers have rejoiced in the Walkman revival and are reaching for their favorite cassette tapes to try and convert their oblivious Gen Z offspring. 


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Gen Z can just about understand landline phones, never mind the concept of using dial-up internet. There was no chance of cheating on quiz questions in the old days of the internet when you had to wait 20 minutes to get a connection. These days, Gen Z would have a meltdown when they are offline for just two minutes. 

Fax Machines

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Speaking of ancient forms of communication, Gen Z would stare wide-eyed at a fax machine, which was the Boomer equivalent of sending emails. It is hard to believe that people still use these machines, but  17 million are still used in offices throughout the U.S. for those Boomer businesses that still hold on to the past. 

Floppy Disk

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If Gen Z doesn’t know what a fax machine or dial-up internet is, they will not know what a floppy disk is. With the emergence of CDs, USBs, and Cloud services, there is no reason for Boomers to still be using floppy disks, and we think they will be hard to come by these days. 

Phone Directories

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In years gone by, Boomers would need to trawl telephone directories to find out their friends’ numbers for a tradesperson to come to their house. For Gen Z, it is just a matter of clicking a few buttons to search for such information online. If you could not find the number you needed in the phone directory, you could call a number to get them to search for a listed number.

Early Mobile Phones

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We know that there was a Nokia revival recently, but Nokia phones were once huge brick-like phones that Boomers were proud as punch to own. While some later models could take photos, phones’ cameras did not develop until much later, which is one major perk of the smartphone. 


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Ancient mobile phones did have one perk: the game of Snake. Anyone with a Nokia 3310 could be frantically playing with their phones quicker than any Gen Z can say Snapchat. 


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Before Netflix got their hold on the world of entertainment, there was such a thing as VHS tapes, and a trip to your local Blockbuster was the weekend’s highlight. The huge VHS players would take up so much space on the T.V. stand, and Boomers would pray that their cassettes would not get caught up in the machine after a few views of the movie. 

Having to Get Up To Switch the TV

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Before remotes were commonplace, Boomers had to get up off the sofa to switch over the TV or higher the volume. These days, Gen Z doesn’t even have to press a button; they can just say the words out loud, and your device will turn over. 

Twice a Day Mail

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Until the rise of UPS and other delivery companies, the mailman came twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The twice-a-day visits met the demand for a large amount of mail that arrived at houses before bills were electronic and people started writing emails to one another. 

Smoking in Public Spaces

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Boomers who still smoke will be confident in their homes or outdoor spaces. At one time, you could smoke in public buildings such as libraries, restaurants, and even hospitals. You could also smoke on an airplane, so you will still see the ‘no smoking’ signs that confuse Gen Z. 

Drive-In Movie Theaters

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While there are still around 550 drive-in movie theaters in the U.S., the number has significantly declined since Boomers were teenagers. Enjoying movies outdoors from the comfort of your car was the highlight of a Boomer’s weekend, and Gen Z will never truly understand this pleasure. 

Paper Maps and Atlases

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Gen Z has grown up in an era dominated by digital maps and navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze. These tools provide turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic updates, and information about various points of interest, making paper maps seem outdated.

Brick-and-Mortar Retail

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While it may be a stretch to say Gen Z has no idea what a high-street store looks like, they will not experience the hustle and bustle of shopping in busy malls as Boomers did. Over 50% of Gen Z today say they shop purely online. Those who shop in-store may go to a select few stores rather than spend every weekend hanging around dozens of stores.

Traditional Games

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Playing board games, card games, and outdoor activities are primary sources of entertainment for Boomers. While Gen Z still does this, they don’t do it to the level older generations did. 


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Using coins for payphones might be foreign to Gen Z. They’re more accustomed to digital payment methods and might not even carry cash regularly. Finding the correct change to use a payphone could seem cumbersome and unnecessary.

Filling Out Paper Forms

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Filling out paper forms is mostly a thing of the past as even Boomers are embracing online forms. Completing lengthy paper applications and forms for various purposes was once a norm for Boomers, but Gen Z can’t get their heads around how long it must have taken. 

Banking in Person

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Most Boomers conducted banking transactions in person at a physical bank branch weekly. These days, we log on to our banks via cell phones, and transactions are completed within minutes.  

The Cold War

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The Cold War lasted nearly half a century (1947-1991). This means the ever-present threat of nuclear war and global tensions shaped many of Boomer’s formative years. But it ended in 1991, meaning Gen Z wasn’t alive or very young. They wouldn’t have firsthand experience of the tensions and anxieties that permeated that era. 

Limited International Communication

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Mobile phones didn’t become widely available until the late 1980s and early 1990s, limiting options for on-the-go international communication for most of the Boomer generation. Now, we can switch on cell phone or send an email, and we can speak with anyone no matter where they are in the world. 

Major Historical Events

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Living through significant historical events like the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks was a significant experience for Boomers. Gen Z may learn about them in history class, but they will never understand the experience of living through it all. 

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